Global Investigations Review - The law and practice of international investigations

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Monday, 15 April 2019

GE agrees to pay $1.5 billion for alleged RMBS misrepresentations

US conglomerate General Electric (GE) has agreed to pay a $1.5 billion civil penalty to the US Department of Justice (DOJ) to resolve claims that its subsidiary, WMC Mortgage, and affiliates misrepresented the quality of loans in relation with the sale of residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS).

In a statement on 12 April, the DOJ said that a majority of the mortgage loans the subsidiary sold between 2005 and 2007 allegedly “did not comply with WMC’s representations”. 

In January, GE announced that it had agreed a $1.5 billion agreement in principle with the DOJ to settle the matter.  

The settlement resolves allegations by the Justice Department without an admission of liability by GE.

Trinidad and Tobago introduces UWOs

The parliament of Trinidad and Tobago voted on 11 April to introduce unexplained wealth orders (UWOs) as part of the Civil Asset Recovery and Management and Unexplained Wealth Bill.

The legislation was passed with 24 votes for and six against.

The legislation, which was first introduced to parliament on 22 March, gives the chairman of Trinidad’s Inland Revenue and officers attached to the financial investigations unit of the police service the power to apply to the high court for a UWO “where there is a reasonable suspicion that the total wealth of the respondent exceeds the value of his lawfully obtained wealth”.

UN urges increased staffing for Ireland’s anti-corruption unit

A UN report has called for Ireland to bolster the ranks of the anti-corruption unit within An Garda Síochána, the country’s police force, as it currently only has three employees.

An executive summary of the UN’s report on Ireland’s implementation of the UN Convention against Corruption was published on the Irish government's website on 12 April.

The executive summary also references Ireland’s “successes and good practices”, including its use of an anti-money laundering steering committee, a freedom of information disclosure log and its protection of whistleblowers regardless of their motivation.

The full report is expected in May.

Volkswagen’s former CEO charged in Germany over emissions scandal

Prosecutors in Braunschweig have charged ex-Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn with fraud and with breaching Germany’s competition law in connection with the diesel emissions scandal, according to reports.

Prosecutors reportedly said that Winterkorn knew about emissions rigging in 2014, a year before a US authority revealed that the German car manufacturer used illegal software to cheat toxic emissions tests. Winterkorn has not publicly commented on the charges. 

Prosecutors in Braunschweig also charged four ex-Volkswagen managers with fraud.

Winterkorn is currently facing a US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) civil lawsuit and Department of Justice criminal charges over the emissions scandal. The SEC is also suing Volkswagen Group and two of its subsidiaries. 

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