Global Investigations Review - The law and practice of international investigations

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Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Saudi Arabian court convicts government officials for corruption

A Saudi Arabian court has convicted 18 people, including  government officials and private-sector employees, on corruption charges.

Reuters reported that the country’s state news agency SPA said the defendants, who remain unidentified, faced allegations including bribery, fraud and abuse of office. Sentences reportedly included jail terms of 16 years and fines totalling more than $1 million.

Reuters reported that critics have said the trial is a power-play aimed at political rivals of “Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler” Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

Fraud lands Jiangxi GE 15 month debarment from World Bank

The World Bank has handed down a 15-month debarment to Chinese geo-engineering group Jiangxi GE for fraudulent activity, according to a statement from the bank.

The decision relates to Jiangxi GE’s submission of falsified certificates in its bid on a contract for the World Bank-financed Heilongjiang Cold Weather Smart Public Transport System project in China.

As part of a settlement reached with the bank, the group admitted responsibility for the fraud. 

Former Pemex chief's appeal against arrest warrant fails

A Mexican court has upheld an arrest warrant for the ex-director of state-owned oil company Pemex after it was challenged by his lawyers, according to local reports.

Emilio Lozoya, former chief executive at the company, faces charges of alleged money laundering and receiving bribes from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht in relation to the 2014 sale of a fertiliser production plant in the eastern state of Veracruz. He has previously denied wrongdoing. 

Federal court judge Luz María Ortega Tlapa reportedly said the warrant for Lozoya’s arrest was merited by the evidence, which “reasonably establishes the existence of an act with the appearance of the crime of operations with resources of illicit origin”.

 

SFO struggles to secure convictions, according to report

The UK Serious Fraud Office is struggling to secure convictions despite tougher legislative measures on corporate crime, according to figures that Fieldfisher obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.   

Kyle Phillips, a director in the firm’s corporate crime team in London, said that out of 43 corporate criminal investigations since 2013 only five have resulted in convictions, while 32 remain live and have done “for some time”.

Phillips said that the introduction of deferred prosecution agreements, along with the Bribery Act 2010 and the Criminal Finances Act 2017, should have made it easier for the SFO to conduct its investigations and pursue convictions.

Swedbank under investigation for US sanctions violations

The US Treasury Departments Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is investigating allegations that Swedbank’s Baltic branch facilitated transfers in violation of sanctions against Russia, according to Swedish broadcaster SVT.

Bloomberg reports that Swedish broadcaster SVT said on its flagship investigation programme Uppdrag Granskning it had discovered transactions at the Estonian unit of Sweden’s oldest bank between Kalashnikov USA, a Florida-based gun manufacturer, and sanctioned Russian weapons maker Concern Kalashnikov JSC.

Swedbank’s chief executive said on Wednesday the bank would do all it could to “get to the bottom” of the matter, according to Reuters.

Ex-Credit Suisse fraudster had allies, says former Georgia PM

A former Georgian prime minister said it was “impossible” the ex-Credit Suisse banker who allegedly defrauded him out of $140 million was acting alone, according to Bloomberg.

Discussing the case for the first time in public, billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvilia reportedly claimed Patrice Lescaudron, who was reportedly convicted of fraud in 2018 in Switzerland, was working with at least two other colleagues at the bank as part of a scheme to hide trading losses from investors in the wake of the 2008 financial crash.

Credit Suisse has repeatedly insisted that Lescaudron acted as a lone wolf. 

Ivanishvilia is reportedly in the process of suing the bank, claiming he is still owed more than $100 million in damages from the scheme.

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