Global Investigations Review - The law and practice of international investigations

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Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Malaysia charges PetroSaudi execs in 1MDB scandal

Malaysian prosecutors have charged PetroSaudi International executives Tarek Obaid and Patrick Mahoney and fugitive financier Jho Low with criminal conspiracy for their alleged roles in the 1MDB scandal, according to Bloomberg.

Obaid and Mahoney also face additional money laundering charges for allegedly receiving $300 million of 1MDB money. 

Low already faces charges in Malaysia, including five counts of money laundering. In the US he has been charged with conspiring to launder money and to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. He has previously denied wrongdoing in relation to charges brought against him by US authorities.

The parties have not publicly commented on the new charges. 

Former UK trade secretary lobbied Bahrain for $5 billion Petrofac contract

Conservative MP Liam Fox lobbied Bahrain’s royal family for a $5 billion contract for oil company Petrofac despite it being under investigation for alleged corruption, The Guardian reports.

Fox reportedly wrote to the Bahraini crown prince on behalf of Petrofac while serving as international trade secretary in 2017, just four months after the UK Serious Fraud Office announced its investigation into the company over allegations of bribery, corruption and money laundering. 

The Guardian previously reported that former Conservative prime ministers David Cameron and Theresa May had lobbied Bahrain on Petrofac’s behalf.

A spokesperson at the Department for International Trade reportedly said that Fox “followed the correct processes, carried out with due propriety throughout”.

Bribery trial begins for former Ecuadorean president

Former Ecuadorean president Rafael Correa’s trial on charges of receiving bribes began on 10 February at the National Court of Justice in Quito, according to the Associated Press.

In an opening statement, the chief prosecutor reportedly claimed that 11 officials within Ecuador’s PAIS Alliance party, including Correa, accepted nearly $8 million in political donations from foreign and local companies in return for handing out public works contracts. 

Correa is reportedly living in Belgium and was absent from the first day of the trial. He denies the charges.

French appellate court fines Equatorial Guinea vice-president for embezzlement

A French appeals court has ordered Teodorin Obiang, the son of Equatorial Guinea’s long-serving president, to pay a previously suspended €30 million fine for embezzling public funds, according to reports

A lower court originally found Obiang guilty in 2017 of looting the country’s wealth to pay for an extravagant lifestyle. That court ordered a seizure of Obiang's French assets – which included a €107 million Paris mansion and a fleet of luxury supercars – as well as a three-year suspended prison sentence and a suspended €30 million fine.

The appelate court reportedly upheld this sentencing decision on 10 February, and ordered the suspension on the fine to be lifted.

Obiang reportedly said through his lawyers that his wealth comes from legitimate sources.

Malaysia: UK SFO not yet responded to request for Airbus info

The chief of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has reportedly said that the authority is yet to hear from the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) about a request for details of Airbus’ dealings with local airline AirAsia.

Latheefa Koya reportedly said: “We won’t know if we have to call them or wait for the information,” but added that the authority may have its own priorities. Airbus entered a $4 billion resolution with UK, US and French authorities on 31 January to settle allegations it bribed officials in 16 countries. the settlement papers include references to two executives at AirAsia and budget airliner AirAsia X.

AirAsia executives Datuk Kamarundin Meranun and Tan Sri Tony Fernandes have denied taking illicit payments from Airbus in exchange for aircraft purchases.

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