Global Investigations Review - The law and practice of international investigations

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Thursday, 14 November 2019

Libyan Investment Authority sues Credit Suisse

The Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) has sued French bank Credit Suisse in a London court over allegations of “commercial fraud”, Bloomberg reports.

Businessman and former friend of ex-dictator Muammar Gaddafi, Walid Al-Giahmi, is reportedly also a defendant in the suit. The LIA has previously accused Mr Al-Giahmi of taking bribes to arrange deals on behalf of the fund.

The fund has previously sued Société Générale – from whom it won €963 billion in 2017 – as well as JPMorgan.

Former SNC-Lavalin exec calls dealing with Gaddafi regime “annoying”

Former SNC-Lavalin executive Gilles Laramée said dealing with the Libyan government under Moammar Gaddafi was “annoying” in testimony heard in Montreal on 13 November, the Montreal Gazette reports

Laramée, who was the engineering company’s chief financial officer between 1999 and 2013, testified in the trial of former SNC-Lavalin vice-president Sami Bebawi. He has pleaded not guilty. 

Talking specifically about a challenging contract, Laramée said the Libyan government was “very, very difficult. It became annoying”.

His comments are the latest development in a bribery scandal concerning payments made by SNC-Lavalin to the Gaddafi regime for construction contracts between 2001 and 2011.

OECD urges Brazil to preserve independence of law enforcement authorities

The OECD’s Working Group on Bribery is concerned that a new law on abuses of authority will threaten the independence and capacity of Brazil’s law enforcement agencies.

In a 13 November press release, the OECD said despite its warnings about how Brazil defines abuses of authority by judges and prosecutors, the new law, due to come into effect in January 2020, is “characterised by vague concepts”.

The OECD also criticised the country’s recent suppression of the use of reports produced by various administrative agencies in criminal investigations.

The international organisation told GIR in October that Brazil, as well as the UK, would be put under the microscope during a quarterly meeting that month, following a bout of political bias allegations.

SFC bans former Deutsche Securities trader for life over bribery

Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) has barred Ma Sin Chi, former officer at Deutsche Securities Asia, from working in the securities industry following a bribery conviction.

Hong Kong’s Court of First Instance in February 2018 convicted Ma of taking HK$6.4 million (US$64,000) in bribes from clients in return for assisting them in trading Deutsche Bank-issued derivative warrants. Deutsche Securities Asia acted as the liquidity provider.

The SFC said in a press release on 14 November that Ma “is not a fit and proper person to be licensed to carry on regulated activities”.  

China investigating Hikvision directors in securities probe

China’s Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) is investigating Gong Hongjia and Hu Yangzhong, both directors at video surveillance company Hikvision, over an alleged violation of disclosure rules, according to reports.

Hikvision reportedly said in a filing to the stock exchange on 13 November that Gong and Hu had been named as suspects and would cooperate with the CSRC in its investigation. The duo has not publicly commented on the matter.

Sources reportedly told Reuters that the allegations link to details of an employee bonus plan that were not declared.

The US Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security added Hikvision to the Entity List in October over its alleged role in the countrys treatment of Muslim minorities in the Chinese region of Xinjiang.

Study finds €13 billion laundered in the Netherlands annually

A study by an economics professor at the University of Utrecht has found that €13 billion is laundered through the Dutch financial system each year, according to reports.

Professor Brigitte Unger’s findings reportedly show that €5 billion is laundered into the Netherlands from foreign sources every year, and estimated that laundered funds account for 1.6% of the country’s entire economy.

The study was reportedly carried out as part of a collaboration between Dutch police, the Dutch Public Prosecutors Office, the Financial Intelligence Unit and the national tax authority.

SEC investigates oilfields services company ProPetro

A Texas-based oilfields services company has said it is under investigation by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for accounting irregularities.

ProPetro said that the SEC launched the probe after an internal investigation revealed weaknesses in the company’s financial controls, as well as an undisclosed transaction concerning a company partly owned by its chief accounting officer.

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