Global Investigations Review - The law and practice of international investigations

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Monday, 21 January 2019

ASIC foresees lengthy courtroom battles with banks

Several executives within the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) believe that the agency’s new litigation-focused approach could lead to years of contentious litigation against financial institutions, the Australian Financial Review reports.

A public inquiry into misconduct in Australia’s financial sector criticised the authority, in a report published in September, for being too reliant on negotiated resolutions to end investigations and urged ASIC to take more matters to court.

After the September report, GIR reported that ASIC had scrapped settlement negotiations in several investigations. According to the Australian Financial Review, ASIC executives expect that banks will respond to such an approach by employing more aggressive legal tactics.  

India sacks PNB execs accused of failing to prevent $2 billion fraud

India’s Department of Financial Services has fired two executive directors of state-run Punjab National Bank (PNB) accused by federal police of failing to prevent a $2 billion fraud at the bank.

PNB revealed the dismissals of K Veera Brahmaji Rao and Sanjiv Sharan in a stock exchange filing on 18 January, almost a year after the country’s biggest bank scam was revealed. The reason for their dismissal has not been revealed.

Federal police reportedly allege that the pair failed to use global payments network SWIFT to detect the fraud, which was allegedly orchestrated by billionaire diamond jeweller Nirav Modi. Rao and Sharon deny the allegations. Modi has previously denied the allegations. 

Baker McKenzie report reveals unresolved compliance problems in US companies

A Baker McKenzie survey has revealed that 52% of multinational companies with a turnover of $1.3 billion or more have compliance issues which have yet to be discovered by or disclosed to a regulator and that US companies have significantly more unresolved compliance issues (64%) than their global peers. 

The report, published on 21 January, was based on interviews with over 1,300 business leaders in seven jurisdictions including, Canada, the US and Brazil.

The report also found that 60% of global multinationals admit to making investments in companies known to have compliance issues.

US-indicted ex-Mossack Fonseca employee extradited to Germany

Dirk Brauer, a former investment banker who worked for Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca’s asset management department, was extradited from France to his home country of Germany on 16 January, according to Süddeutsche Zeitung.

The Paris Court of Appeal decided to extradite Brauer to Germany rather than the US. Brauer was arrested on a US arrest warrant in Paris on 15 November 2018. 

Prosecutors at the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York unsealed an 11-count indictment against Brauer and three others on 4 December. The four were charged with wire fraud, money laundering, and tax evasion.  

The German newspaper reports that Brauer has already cooperated with Munich prosecutors’ investigations into Mossack Fonseca’s clients.

Private Prosecutors Association opens consultation on draft code

The Private Prosecutors’ Association (PPA) launched a public consultation on a draft code for private prosecutors on 21 January.

The draft code is available on its website and those interested in private prosecutions are invited to leave comments. The consultation will be available until 6 March 2019 and the final version is expected for release in mid-2019.

The goal of the code is to provide a benchmark for private prosecutors and promote best practice among lawyers. The code also intends to increase public confidence and protect both victims and defendants from prejudice.

Romania justice minister drafts decree to help corruption convicts fight against convictions

Romania’s justice minister, Tudorel Toader, has drafted an emergency decree that will enable all those convicted of corruption since 2014 to challenge verdicts given by illegally formed panels at the Supreme Court, according to reports.

The decree comes after Romania’s Constitutional Court ruled in November 2018 that five-judge panels at the Supreme Court were illegally formed because the judges had not been randomly selected. 

Several high-profile politicians could benefit from the measure, including the leader of the Social Democratic Party Liviu Dragnea, who received a suspended jail term in an electoral fraud case in 2015.

Opposition party Save Romania Union called the decree illegal as it would retroactively reopen finished cases.

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