Global Investigations Review - The law and practice of international investigations

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Wednesday, 06 November 2019

Lawyers for ex-VP at SNC-Lavalin attempted to bribe witness, court hears

A jury has heard how lawyers representing a former executive at Canadian construction company SNC-Lavalin attempted to buy off a key witness, according to The Canadian Press.

Riadh Ben Assia, a former subordinate of former SNC-Lavalin vice president Sami Bebawi, reportedly told the court at Bebawis trial, which began on Monday, how the accuseds lawyers offered him $10 million to corroborate testimony given to Swiss authorities concerning the company's dealings in Libya. Bebawi has pleaded not guilty. 

Bebawi’s trial relates to a massive bribery scandal, in which SNC-Lavalin officials allegedly made illicit payments of $50 million to Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in exchange for public contracts between 2001 and 2011.

Nigeria drops corruption case against football federation officials

The Special Presidential Investigation Panel (SPIP) dropped its case against Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) officials on Tuesday 5 November after the SPIP itself was dissolved amid corruption allegations.

Among the 16 charges dropped were the arrangement of fake international friendly matches, failure to declare assets and the alleged disappearance of $8.4 million paid to Nigeria by Fifa for participation in the 2014 World Cup.

Nigeria’s president Muhammadu Buhari dissolved the SPIP in September 2019 following corruption allegations that its own chairman, Okoi Obono-Obla, stole seized money. Obono-Obla denied the allegations.

The SPIP investigation focused on NFF president Amaju Pinnick, vice presidents Shehu Dikko and Seyi Akinwunmi, general secretary Mohammad Sanusi and executive committee member Ahmed Yusuf, all of whom deny wrongdoing.

Date set for UBS tax evasion retrial in France

Swiss bank UBS will stand trial at a court of appeal in Paris between 2 and 29 June as it seeks to overturn a conviction that resulted in a record 3.7 billion euro fine, Le Figaro reports.

Under French law, an appeal suspends the judgment of the trial court and the case will now be re-tried in its entirety.

In February, a Paris court found that UBS illegally had helped its clients hide billions of euros from tax authorities in France between 2004 and 2012.

The judgment came at the end of a seven-year investigation that was launched in 2011 after former UBS employees came forward with claims that the bank assisted French citizens in evading taxes.

Malaysia launches financial data-sharing initiative to help investigators

Malaysia has set up a new intelligence-sharing initiative to help streamline the fight against financial crime in the country, according to the Straits Times.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad reportedly announced the launch of the Malaysian Financial Intelligence Network (MyFINet) at the International Conference on Financial Crime and Terrorism Financing on 5 November.

A public-private partnership, the initiative will allegedly smoothen data sharing between financial institutions and law enforcement to better enable investigations into financial crime.

Malaysia has been rocked by scandal in recent years over allegations former prime minister Najib Razak, with the help of financier-turned-fugitive Jho Low, embezzled billions in public money from the state-sponsored 1MDB investment fund.

DAML requests doubled over past year, says NCA

Requests for Defence Against Money Laundering (DAML) have increased by 52%, according to the 2019 annual report from the UK National Crime Agency’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU). 

Institutions, primarily banks, can request DAMLs from the NCA if they suspect that a property they intend to deal with is in some way criminal.

Upon being granted a DAML, these institutions are protected if they end up committing a principal money laundering offence under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 in dealing with the property.

In 2019, 34,543 requests for such protection were made, compared to 22,619 in 2018.

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