Global Investigations Review - The law and practice of international investigations

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Wednesday, 05 December 2018

Ecuador VP resigns amid payment probe

Ecuador’s vice president María Vícuña announced her resignation from office on 4 December amid a probe into payments she received as an MP between 2011 and 2013.

The resignation came a day after President Lenín Moreno reportedly relieved Vícuña of her duties, following her request for a leave of absence. In a tweet on 4 December, she said: “I understand that relieving me of duties was a way to ensure my legitimate right to defence.”

Prosecutors are investigating funds that a former adviser allegedly gave Vicuña while she was an MP for the Country Alliance party (AP).

Vicuña has reportedly acknowledged receiving the payments, but claims they were voluntary contributions for a political organisation aligned to the AP.

AugustaWestland “middleman” extradited from UAE to India to face bribery charges

The UAE has extradited British consultant Christian Michel to India where he faces fraud, bribery and money laundering charges as part of an investigation into a helicopter purchase deal, according to local press.

Michel is one of the three middlemen accused of making bribe payments to officials to help secure the sale of 12  helicopters from Anglo-Italian manufacturer AugustaWestland to India in 2010. Michel denies wrongdoing. 

Indian authorities first lodged a request for Michel’s extradition in February 2017. The Dubai Court of Appeal approved the request in September, but Michel appealed against the ruling. Dubai’s Court of Cassation upheld the lower court’s ruling in November.  

Alibaba executive arrested in China

Alibaba has said that Weidong Yang, the president of its video-streaming unit Youku, has been arrested by Chinese police for “alleged acceptance of suspicious payments”. 

The Chinese e-commerce conglomerate made the announcement in a US Securities and Exchange Commission filing on 4 December. In the filing, Alibaba said that Yang was arrested on 3 December. Alibaba said that it is cooperating with the police. Yang has not commented publicly on the matter.  

Brazil investigates oil traders over suspected bribery

Brazilian prosecutors are investigating oil traders Vitol, Trafigura and Glencore in relation to an alleged payment of approximately US$31 million to Petrobras exeutives as part of the 57th phase of Operation Car Wash, called ‘No Limits’.

Prosecutors announced the news on 5 December and added that other unnamed trading companies are also under investigation.Vitol told the Financial Times that it has a zero-tolerance policy to bribery and will always cooperate with relevant authorities, while Glencore and Trafigura declined to comment.

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