Global Investigations Review - The law and practice of international investigations

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Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Guatemalan anti-corruption body issues final report

The UN-sponsored International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) has highlighted the 120 cases it helped to bring over 12 years in its final report before the end of its mandate in the country.

The report entitled “The Legacy of Justice in Guatemala” notes the 1,540 charges that it helped Guatemalan authorities secure, as well as the judicial reforms it helped Congress to usher in, the training it offered authorities in regards to investigations and criminal analysis, and the way it strengthened the country’s litigation capacities.

The CICIG’s mandate is due to expire after 3 September. Guatemala’s outgoing president Jimmy Morales unilaterally expelled the UN-sponsored body over allegations it violated human rights and after it began investigating him for alleged corruption.

Brazil moves anti-money laundering body away from economy ministry again

Brazil’s government has issued a decree transferring the Council of Financial Activities Control (COAF) away from the Ministry of Economy to the central bank’s new Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).

The new FIU is responsible for managing financial information to prevent and combat money laundering and terrorist financing. According to a separate decree, it will comprise 11 directors.

Brazil’s parliament has already moved the COAF around several times this year. When President Jair Bolsonaro was first sworn in, he moved the body from the Ministry of Economy to the Ministry of Justice, a decision which was later reversed. Lawyers at the time said the move may have been an attempt to create tension between Bolsonaro and justice minister Sérgio Moro.

Hypercars confiscated in Munich in connection with 1MDB scandal

German authorities have seized several luxury cars belonging to a UAE national over allegations that he purchased the vehicles with money laundered from Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund 1MDB, according to reports.

Khadem al-Qubaisi’s cars were confiscated on behalf of the Swiss Attorney General’s Office, which has accused him of laundering $1.37 billion in 1MDB funds through Swiss bank accounts. Al-Qubaisi was convicted of similar conduct tied to 1MDB in Abu Dhabi and sentenced to 15 years in June.

In Kuala Lumpur, meanwhile, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission has reportedly unfrozen the bank accounts of 1MDB’s former chief executive Arul Kanda Kandasamy. He is facing charges that he helped to amend a 1MDB audit report and denies wrongdoing.

Philips whistleblower fired before Brazilian investigation

A whistleblower warned Dutch healthcare company Philips about suspicious medical equipment deals nearly a decade before Brazilian prosecutors began investigating the company as part of sector-wide investigation into bribery, according to Reuters.

Jose Israel Masiero Filho, a former supply-chain executive with medical device company Dixtal, reportedly told Philips in 2010 about irregularities in deals to sell Philips and Dixtal equipment to a Brazilian middleman who had landed contracts with Brazil’s ministry of health. 

GIR reported in September that Philips was among several multinational medical device companies being investigated in Brazil over alleged involvement in a medical devices cartel that bribed public officials for contracts between 1996 and 2016. 

Philips denied wrongdoing and is cooperating with investigators.

Mozambique court orders arrest of nine suspects in “Tuna Bond” case

Mozambique’s Maputo City Court ordered the preventative detention of nine suspects on 19 August as part of an investigation into the “tuna bond” scandal, according to local press

Local police arrested Renato Matusse, who was once an adviser to former President Armando Guebuza, security and intelligence service agent Cipriano Mutota, and seven others.

The news is the latest in a series of charges by the Mozambican attorney general in connection with the matter.

The “tuna bond” scandal relates to a scheme whereby an estimated $700 million of $2 billion loaned by Credit Suisse and Russia’s VTB bank to the Mozambican government for projects to be implemented by three government-owned companies went missing.

The US Department of Justice is investigating the case and in December filed charges against the former finance minister, former Credit Suisse bankers, and business people involved in the deals.  

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