Global Investigations Review - The law and practice of international investigations


Tuesday, 03 December 2019

Najib takes stand in 1MDB trial

The former prime minister of Malaysia Najib Razak has for the first time taken the stand as part of his trial over alleged corruption linked to the 1MDB scandal, according to reports.

Prosecutors allege that Najib illegally received 42 million ringgit ($10 million) from the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund, known as 1MDB, and have charged him with criminal breach of trust, money laundering and abuse of power. He denies wrongdoing.

Najib reportedly told the court on 3 December about how fugitive Malaysian financier Jho Low, at the centre of the scandal, portrayed himself as influential in the Middle East and able to easily secure investments.

The fugitive Low has been charged in the US and Malaysia for allegedly siphoning $4.5 billion from 1MDB. He denies wrongdoing.

PSG president questioned in Swiss bribery case

Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, the president of French football team Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), has been questioned by the Swiss Office of the Attorney General (OAG) over allegations that he bribed a Fifa official while director of the BeIN Media Group, according to reports.

The OAG reportedly questioned Al-Khelaïfi twice: once on 2 December and once in October 2017.

The OAG opened an investigation into Al-Khelaïfi in 2017 following accusations that he bribed former Fifa official Jérôme Valcke to gain telecommunications contracts linked to the 2026 and 2030 World Cups.

Al-Khelaïfi’s lawyers, Grégoire Mangeat and Fanny Margairaz at Mangeat law firm in Geneva, have reportedly said that their client “strongly denies” the allegations.

DOJ indicts Russian, Italian and US companies for sanctions violations

In an October indictment unsealed on 2 December, the US charged three companies and employees based in Russia, Italy and the US for breaching trade sanctions, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on 3 November.

The DOJ also announced charges against Russian-based KS Engineering and Italian-based GVA International Oil and Gas Services for violating and attempting to violate US trade sanctions related to the transfer of mining equipment.

US company World Mining and Oil Supply were charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering and wire fraud for its role in the matter. The DOJ simultaneously announced charges against several of the employees across the companies.

Namibian bribery suspects to remain in custody

Six people arrested in Namibia for their role in the Samherji bribery scandal, including two former government officials, have dropped their applications for bail, according to Reuters.

Former Namibian fisheries minister Bernard Esau and former justice minister Sakeus Shanghala are among those accused of accepting bribes from Icelandic fisheries company Samherji in exchange for government quotas. They will remain in custody until at least 20 February 2020.

On 28 November, Norway’s white-collar crime enforcement agency Økokrim confirmed it is investigating DNB Bank for allegedly facilitating illicit transfers from Samherji. Norwegian company Nergard, part-owned by Samherji, is also facing investigation for allegedly handling illicit funds, according to reports from 3 December.

Esau and Shanghala have reportedly denied wrongdoing. Their lawyers provided no further comment.

UK NCA reaches £190 million settlement with Pakistani national

The UK National Crime Agency (NCA) announced on 3 December that it has agreed a £190 million settlement with Pakistani national Malik Riaz Hussain in an asset freezing probe.

The NCA secured nine account freezing orders in 2018 and 2019 on accounts owned by Riaz, who the NCA said owns a business that is “one of the biggest private sector employers in Pakistan”.

The NCA said the settlement comprises the £140 million in the frozen accounts as well as a London property, which the NCA said is worth £50 million. The money will be returned to Pakistan, the NCA said.

The NCA did not disclose the alleged misconduct and Riaz has not commented publicly on the matter.

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