Global Investigations Review - The law and practice of international investigations


Tuesday, 04 August 2020

Japan’s High Court vacates sentence stemming from first bribery plea deal

The Tokyo High Court has vacated an 18-month suspended prison sentence handed to a former executive from energy company Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems and replaced it with a ¥2.5 million ($23,571) fine, the Japan Times reports.

Satoshi Uchida reportedly received the sentence in September 2019 for conspiring with two more junior employees, who were convicted in 2019, to bribe a Thai official regarding a power plant project.

The case followed on from the country’s first plea deal, which Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems agreed with Tokyo prosecutors in 2018. 

The High Court ruled that the testimony of the two convicted individuals, who said Uchida approved the bribes, was not credible. Uchida received a fine for failing to prevent the illicit payments.

Estonian anti-corruption committee reviews appointment of US law firm

Estonia’s anti-corruption and budget control parliamentary committees held an emergency meeting on 3 August to discuss the government’s decision to hire Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan, according to reports. 

Estonian Finance Minister Martin Helme announced the hiring of the US firm in early July to “be a partner for the Estonian government in the investigations into past AML cases initiated in the United States.”

The appointment of Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan has raised some eyebrows over perceived conflicts of interest. According to the Daily Beast, the firm’s senior partner, Louis Freeh, acted for Prevezon, which allegedly laundered part of the proceeds of a Russian tax fraud discovered by murdered Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. Some of the $230 million tax fraud Magnitsky uncovered were allegedly laundered through Dankse Bank’s Estonian branch. The firm denied representing the company. 

Freeh announced on 3 August that his affiliated risk management firm, Freeh Group International Solutions, has been acquired by global consulting firm AlixPartners and that he has stepped down from Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan.

Jordanian lawyer seeks US document as part of lawsuit against Dechert

A Jordanian lawyer who alleges that Dechert and three lawyers committed human rights abuses during a fraud investigation filed an application in Manhattan federal court on 31 July to obtain material from Dechert’s US headquarters for use in a UK lawsuit against the firm.

Karam Salah Al Din Awni Al Sadeq is suing Dechert, its head of investigations Neil Gerrard, partner Caroline Black and former partner David Hughes.

Al Sadeq launched the London lawsuit in January, alleging that he was unlawfully imprisoned in the UAE in a manner amounting to torture to solicit a false confession.

The firm and lawyers have denied wrongdoing. 

Al Sadeq has requested a raft of documents in the motion, including “any documents evidencing any internal investigation conducted by Dechert US into these matters”.

China to fine Luckin Coffee over accounting fraud

The Chinese Ministry of Finance intends to fine coffee chain Luckin Coffee after an investigation confirmed the company committed accounting fraud, according to reports

The ministry’s investigation reportedly found that Luckin had inflated sales by $304 million and profits by $130 million in the second half of 2019. 

China’s State Administration for Market Regulation also said it would penalise the company and related businesses for “inappropriate competition behaviour”.

Luckin announced in April that it was investigating some $311 million in potentially fabricated accounts. It confirmed in July that former executives and employees had knowingly falsified sales.

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