Global Investigations Review - The law and practice of international investigations

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Wednesday, 21 May 2014

FCA fraud trial continues despite legal aid dispute

The UK Financial Conduct Authority has successfully appealed against a decision that halted a fraud trial it was pursuing.

A Southwark Crown Court ruling from earlier this month stayed a £4.5 million fraud trial amid concerns over the defendants' ability to obtain adequate representation in the face of severe cuts to legal aid in the UK.

The decision was expected to affect the UK’s ability to tackle serious fraud and white-collar crime cases.

The criminal bar and the UK’s Ministry of Justice are at odds over legal aid cuts. The ministry has imposed a 30 per cent reduction in legal aid fees to barristers acting in complex cases.

In the judgment, appeal judges Sir Brian Leveson, Lord Justice Davis and Lord Justice Treacy, said: “It is of fundamental importance that the MoJ led by the Lord Chancellor and the professions continue to try to resolve the impasse that presently stands in the way of the delivery of justice in the most complex of cases.”

Forex allegations hit Commerzbank

Germany’s Commerzbank has reportedly fired one trader and suspended another after it allegedly caught the employees attempting to manipulate the euro and the Polish zloty, according to Reuters.

In a statement earlier on Wednesday Commerzbank itself said it suspended two traders, following what it believes was an isolated incident of attempted manipulation.

The news comes a day after Germany’s financial regulator, BaFin, said it found evidence that traders tried to manipulate multiple smaller currencies and has expanded its investigation into a larger number of German banks.

US Navy officer pleads guilty in bribery case

A Japan-based US Navy officer has pleaded guilty to accepting more than US$10,000 in bribes from a foreign defence contractor, the US Department of Justice has said. Daniel Layug is the third person to plead guilty in a corruption case involving Singapore-based defence contractor Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA). There are charges pending against three others. According to court documents, GDMA employees allegedly bribed US officials in return for confidential information that helped GDMA win contracts to supply services to US Navy ships.

CFTC pays first whistleblower US$240,000

The US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) yesterday issued its first reward under its whistleblower programme. An unnamed person will receive around US$240,000 for supplying the agency with information about Commodity Exchange Act violations. The whistleblower bounty programme created by 2010’s Dodd-Frank Act provides rewards to people reporting violations which lead to enforcement actions resulting in over US$1 million in sanctions. Whistleblowers can take 10 to 30 per cent of the penalty. 

Gretchen Lowe, acting director of the CFTC's enforcement division, said: “Here, the whistleblower provided specific, timely and credible information that led to the commission bringing important enforcement actions. The CFTC’s whistleblower programme is attracting high-quality tips and cooperation we might not otherwise receive and is already having an impact on the commission’s enforcement mission.”

China corruption official investigated for corruption

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) in China's Communist Party is investigating one of its own corruption inspectors for corruption. The CDDI said disciplinary inspector Cao Lixin is being investigated. This is the latest in a crackdown on corruption in China, which is also investigating high-ranking officials in state-owned companies. PetroChina overseas head Bo Qiliang is reportedly being investigated, as are China Resources chair Song Lin and China National Petroleum Corporation former oil executive Sun Weidong.  

JP Morgan China former investment bank head arrested

Fang Fang, former head of JPMorgan's investment banking in China, has been arrested in Hong Kong by Hong Kong's Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC). According to Chinese newspaper Caixin, Fang has been released but is barred from leaving Hong Kong. The US Department of Justice and US Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating JPMorgan's China operations for allegedly running a ‘jobs for favours’ scheme, in which the bank allegedly gave jobs to relatives of Chinese government officials to win business.

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