Global Investigations Review - The law and practice of international investigations

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Wednesday, 01 May 2019

Former Barclays trader claims he was fired for whistleblowing

Brian La Belle, a former head of commercial real estate trader at Barclays, claims he was forced out of the bank after raising complaints about failure to comply with internal risk controls, according to Reuters.

In a filing at a New York federal court, La Belle alleges his superiors asked him to perform trades and contact clients while on mandatory leave, contrary to regulations. When La Belle raised concerns with compliance officials at Barclays he says he was side-lined and later fired in August 2018.

La Belle is seeking reinstatement and over $10 million in compensation.

Barclays has not responded to requests for comment.

US court approves Finnish John Doe tax evasion summonses

The US District Court for the Western District of North Carolina has approved summonses to seek information about accounts held by unknown Finnish entities at US banks: The Bank of America, Charles Schwab and TD Bank.

The orders, known as John Doe summonses, were unsealed on 30 April and announced by the US Department of Justice on 1 May. The US Internal Revenue Service asked the court to approve the summonses on behalf of the Finnish Tax Administration, which is investigating potential tax evasion.

“Our continued success in combatting offshore tax noncompliance has been helped by the assistance we receive through the network of tax treaties around the globe,” said IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig. 

Audit finds Ghosn ran up $12 million in suspicious expenses

Former Renault and Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn accumulated costs of €10.9 million ($12 million) in questionable expenses, including luxury clothing and trips abroad, according to the summary of a Nissan and Renault audit seen by the Wall Street Journal.

The audit reportedly states that Ghosn racked up the expenses between 2009 and 2018, specifying that he purchased Cartier watches and a trip to Brazil for Carnival, among other items that “possibly were personal expenses”.

Ghosn was released on bail on 26 April on a charge he enriched himself with $5 million belonging to Nissan. He also faces other charges for aggravated breach of trust and lying about his income. He denies all wrongdoing.

Colombian judge orders Odebrecht-linked investigation into son of Grupo Aval president

A judge in Bogota has ordered an investigation into the son of Luis Carlos Sarmiento, the president of financial group Grupo Aval, over allegations he was involved in the Odebrecht bribery scandal, according to reports.

The order comes after José Elías Melo, the former president of financial firm Corficolombiana, was sentenced to 11 years and 9 months in prison on 29 April for authorising Odebrecht bribes. A key witness in Melo’s case reportedly alleged that Luis Carlos Sarmiento Jr, as well as three other Grupo Aval executives, was aware of the bribes.

The Colombian government in November asked the Attorney General’s Office to ban Brazilian construction company Odebrecht from bidding on state contracts for 20 years. In 2016, Odebrecht admitted to paying a $6.5 million bribe to a Colombian official.

DC judge orders Chinese banks to comply with North Korea records subpoena

In a court opinion dated 18 March Washington, DC’s chief federal district judge ordered three Chinese banks to hand over records related to millions of dollars’ worth of transactions with sanctioned North Korean entities, Reuters reported.

According to the news agency, the subpoenas were issued in December 2017 as part of an investigation and demanded a range of bank records dating back to January 2012. When the documents were not produced, US prosecutors filed a court motion seeking to compel the banks to comply.

Judge Howell ordered the first two banks to produce the records promptly or testify before a grand jury and ordered the third bank to produce the records by 28 March.

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