Global Investigations Review - The law and practice of international investigations

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Friday, 22 March 2019

Australian receives two-year jail sentence in US for Iran sanctions violations

The general manager of Australian technology company ICM Components has been sentenced to two years in prison after pleading guilty to exporting US$200,000 worth of goods to Iran in violation of the US International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the sentence in a 21 March statement. The DOJ indicted David Levick in 2012 and he was arrested by Australian police on behalf of the DOJ. He was extradited to the US in December 2018.

Levick admitted to procuring or attempting to obtain component parts for helicopters to export them to Iran. Levick used a broker in Flordia to procure the components, according to the statement.

“Much more” to be told on SNC-Lavalin scandal, says ex-Canada cabinet minister

Canada’s ex-minister of digital government, Jane Philpott, has reportedly told Canadian news magazine Maclean's that she and others had more to reveal about the alleged corruption scandal surrounding Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government.

“We actually owe it to Canadians as politicians to ensure that they have the truth,” Philpott, who resigned on 4 March, reportedly said in a 21 March interview.

Former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould alleges that Trudeau and other government officials pressured her to drop a corruption case into Montreal-based construction company SNC-Lavalin. Trudeau has denied wrongdoing.

Amid the controversy, Canada reportedly proposed a new anti-money laundering taskforce as part of its 2019 federal budget on 19 March. The new body aims to improve Canada’s weak record for policing money laundering and tax evasion, in real estate especially.

DOJ to sell $170 million yacht from alleged Nigerian bribery scheme

The US District Court for the Southern District of Texas has approved US prosecutors’ application to sell a yacht owned by two Nigerian businessman accused of bribing Diezani Alison-Madueke, Nigeria’s former minister for petroleum resources, and laundering illicit funds through the US. 

Alison-Madueke has previously denied any wrongdoing. 

The court ruled on 20 March that holding the Galactica Star, which is valued at $170 million, would “result in excessive costs for maintenance and storage” and could also depreciate in value.

The yacht belonged to Jide Omokore, the chairman of Nigerian engineering company Energy Resources Group, and Kolawole Akanni Aluko, the executive director of Nigerian oil and gas company Atlantic Energy. Aluko and Omokore have not been charged.

The DOJ launched the civil suit in 2017.

Swedbank releases redacted FRA report following three-week internal investigation

Swedbank has published a heavily redacted report that consultancy Forensic Risk Alliance presented to its CEO and board of directors after a three-week internal investigation into whether US$4.3 billion in suspicious transactions had been transferred between the Swedish bank and Danish bank Danske Bank’s Estonian unit from 2007 to 2015. 

The report, dated 20 March, is redacted  “in accordance with applicable laws and information security,” Swedbank said in press release on 22 March

Swedbank chair, Lars Idermark, said in the press release that the board of directors will conduct a “deeper review” into the matter.

Swedbank hired FRA to conduct the internal investigation into the allegations on 26 February after ditching big four accounting firm EY.  

Estonian prosecutors are investigating Swedbank over the allegations. The bank has previously defended its anti-money laundering systems.

J&F execs deny proposed questions to Meyer infringe legal privilege

Four former J&F Investimentos executives have denied that the questions they want to pose to ex-Baker McKenzie partner Joan Meyer about what she said in her resignation letter to the firm are legally privileged. 

In the letter sent to the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on 21 March, the executives said that even if part of Meyer’s resignation letter is covered by privilege, she waived this protection as soon as she passed it on to “over 50 Baker lawyers”. 

Meyer will be deposed on 1 April over information the executives believe could help them persuade Brazil’s Supreme Court not to terminate the May 2017 collaboration agreements between them and the country’s prosecutors.

Clegg calls on US court to dismiss ENRC's request to depose him

Former UK Deputy Prime Minister Sir Nicholas Clegg has called on a US court to reject an attempt by Kazakh miner ENRC to depose him for a civil case in the UK. 

In a 19 March application to the US District Court for the Northern District of California, Clegg said that ENRC’s 8 February application does not pass the legal test for obtaining evidence in the US for use in a foreign proceeding.

Clegg, who is now vice president of global affairs and communications at Facebook, has retained Allen Ruby, at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom in Palo Alto, for the proceedings.

The UK Serious Fraud Office is investigating whether ENRC bribed officials in Kazakhstan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The company denies wrongdoing. 

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