Global Investigations Review - The law and practice of international investigations


Thursday, 10 October 2019

Ethiopian Airlines accused of corruption by whistleblower

Yonas Yeshanew, former chief engineer at Ethiopian Airlines turned whistleblower, has claimed the carrier breached protocol in accessing maintenance records for a Boeing 737 Max the day after it crashed, according to Courthouse News.

The complaint forms part of a larger report that Yeshanew reportedly submitted to the US Federal Aviation Administration after resigning this summer. He has alleged that a culture of corruption existed at the airline, where documents were fabricated, sub-standard repair work was signed off and those who raised concerns were subject to physical assaults.

He said: “The brutal fact shall be exposed. Ethiopian Airlines is pursuing the vision of expansion, growth and profitability by compromising safety.”

The company has denied allegations that documents were fabricated.

Boeing, the maker of the 737 Max airplane, is being investigated by the US Department of Justice in relation to crashes of Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air flights.   

Court dismisses charges in Finland’s largest money laundering trial

A court in Helsinki has dismissed charges against two individuals in the largest money laundering case ever brought to trial in Finland, according to Estonia’s ERR news.

Two Estonian nationals had faced allegations they helped launder €135 million in illicit funds that originated from a now-defunct Russian bank. They had pleaded not guilty. 

Gupta brothers sanctioned under US Magnitsky Act

The US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned three businessmen and a close aide on 10 October who have allegedly held sway over the South African government through various corrupt means.

OFAC used an executive order “which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act” to add Ajay Gupta, Atul Gupta, Rajesh Gupta and Salim Essa to OFAC’s list of sanctioned individuals. 

Investigative journalists and activists in South Africa have long claimed that the Gupta's exerted influence over former South African president Jacob Zuma to win government contracts. 

The Treasury praised “the extraordinary work by South Africa’s civil society activists, investigative journalists, and whistleblowers, who have exposed the breadth and depth of the Gupta family’s corruption”. 

Samsung vice chairman to leave board before bribery trial

Jay Lee, the vice chairman of South Korean telecommunications company Samsung, will step down from the board after his directorship ends later in October ahead of further court appearances over bribery allegations, Bloomberg reports.

He faces retrial on charges related to the nationwide corruption scandal that in 2016 where he was accused of paying bribes to a confidant of former president Park Geun-Hye. He has pleaded not guilty. 

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