Global Investigations Review - The law and practice of international investigations

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Tuesday, 04 December 2018

Colombian president asks regulator to crack down on bribery

Colombia’s President Iván Duque Márquez on 3 December asked the nation’s trade and industry regulator to impose the maximum fines on any company found to be involved in taking or paying bribes, according to Reuters.

Duque said that he would not tolerate corruption in Colombia but did not mention a specific company.  

In 2016, Brazilian construction company Odebrecht agreed to pay $2.6 billion as part of a plea deal to resolve allegations that the company had bribed foreign officials in 12 Latin American and African countries, including Colombia. The Colombian government in November asked the companies regulator to ban Odebrecht from state contracts for 20 years after it acknowledged it had paid bribes.

Jho Low charged in absentia over 1MDB scandal

Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho, otherwise known as Jho Low, was charged in absentia on 4 December in relation to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal, the Star Online reports.

Low was reportedly charged in the Kuala Lumper Sessions Court with five offences surrounding his alleged theft of $1.03 billion from 1MDB, through his company Good Star. Low has previously said that the evidence will vindicate him, in response to US charges.

Four others also faced similar charges in absentia: Tan Kim Loong, Tang Keng Chee, Loo Ai Swan and Geh Choh Heng. None appear to have responded to the charges.

On 30 November, a former US Department of Justice employee pleaded guilty to conspiring to influence US investigations into Low.

Croatian court orders detention of MOL CEO

On 3 December the Zagreb county court ordered the detention of Zsolt Hernádi, CEO of Hungarian energy group, MOL. Hernádi is being tried in absentia in Croatia for allegedly bribing former prime minister Ivo Sanader in 2008 to allow MOL to become the key decision-maker in Croatian energy company INA-Industrija nafte.

The trial of Sanader and Hernádi, who both deny any wrongdoing, began in October. Interpol renewed an arrest warrant for Hernádi in October. Hungary has so far ignored the warrant, which was originally issued several years ago.

Sanader already spent four years in solitary confinement and was released in November 2015.

Deutsche Bank raid focused on small BVI unit of bank

The high-profile raid of Deutsche Bank’s Frankfurt offices by 170 members of German law enforcement on 29 and 30 November was part of an investigation into a small, British Virgin Islands-based unit of the bank that it sold in 2017, the Financial Times reports.

The newspaper reports that the unit handled trusts in low-tax countries such as Guernsey and the British Virgin Islands and had an annual revenue of under €10 million.

The Frankfurt Prosecutor’s Office said on 29 November that it is investigating alleged money laundering by employees at the bank. The bank said it is cooperating with the probe.

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