Global Investigations Review - The law and practice of international investigations

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Friday, 15 March 2019

SEC charges Volkswagen and ex-CEO Winterkorn over emissions scandal

The US Securities and Exchange Commission has charged Volkswagen Group, two of its subsidiaries, and its former CEO Martin Winterkorn, with defrauding US investors in relation to the emissions scandal.

In the 14 March complaint, the SEC said that Volkswagen “repeatedly lied to and misled” investors, consumers, and regulators about vehicle quality, environmental compliance, and the car manufacturer's financial standing. 

Volkswagen reportedly called the SEC complaint “factually flawed” and said it will contest the case “vigorously”. The company also accused the SEC of “piling on to try to extract more from the company”.

Winterkorn, who has also been criminally charged over the emissions scandal, has not publicly commented on the SEC allegations. He denies criminal wrongdoing. 

UKEF adopts OECD new recommendation on bribery

UK Export Finance (UKEF) has announced that it will adopt a new OECD recommendation to inform exporters about the legal consequences of bribery and encourage exporters to develop anti-bribery control systems. 

The UKEF said it will adopt the recommendation on 14 March. The OECD recommendation is new and strengthens anti-bribery and corruption policies and procedures among other export finance authorities. 

The OECD has said that it will monitor how the agencies that have chosen to adopt the measure will implement it through a survey and regular workshops.

Four countries investigate Swedish banks over alleged money laundering

Sweden’s financial supervisory authority (FI) said in a statement published 15 March that it had begun an investigation in collaboration with Estonian, Lithuanian and Latvian authorities into money laundering at Swedish banks.

In the same statement, the FI said that on 1 March it received an internal investigation report from Swedbank concerning alleged handling of money that originated with the scandal-ridden Estonian branch at Danish bank Danske Bank.

Swedish media outlet SVT reported on 15 March that US$10 billion in suspicious transactions flowed between Danske Bank and Swedbank between 2007 and 2015. Swedbank’s CEO told SVT that the bank was not complicit in money laundering.

In September 2018, Danske Bank disclosed that it had failed to check transfers totalling €200 billion from its Estonian unit.

Deripaska sues US Treasury Department

Oleg Deripaska, the former president of Russia’s largest energy company, EN+ Group, and the current head of aluminium company Rusal, lodged a complaint on 15 March against the US Treasury Department in an attempt to remove sanctions imposed on him.

In April 2018, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned Deripaska in a group of “seven Russian oligarchs” for profiting from Russian military actions in Syria and Ukraine.

In the complaint, filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia, Deripaska said that the sanctions have caused him to lose 81% of his net worth.

He also said that the “current political climate makes it unlikely” that his case will be fairly assessed in OFAC’s internal appeal process.

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