Global Investigations Review - The law and practice of international investigations

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Thursday, 13 February 2020

Norwegian bank ends business with scandal-hit fishing company Samherji

Norway’s DNB bank terminated its relationship with Icelandic fishing company Samherji in early 2020 over a Namibian bribery scandal, according to Norwegian news publication NRK.

Økokrim, Norway’s white-collar crime agency, said on 28 November it is investigating DNB Bank over its handling of payments to Namibian officials on behalf of Samherji.

Meanwhile, the company’s interim CEO Björgólfur Jóhannsson reportedly said on 11 February he was willing to sue the Namibian police over the seizure of one of its vessels.

Jóhannsson argued that the seizure was wrongful because Samherji has not been charged with a crime and that it was detrimental to local jobs.

Jessie Liu quits after Trump pulls nomination

Jessie Liu reportedly resigned from the US Treasury Department on 12 February after Donald Trump withdrew his nomination for her to serve as its undersecretary for terrorism and financial crimes.

Trump nominated Liu on 10 December 2019, after which she left her position as US Attorney for the District of Columbia to join the treasury while awaiting her confirmation. 

According to CNN, Trump withdrew his endorsement of Liu because the District of Columbia attorney’s office oversaw the case against Trump affiliate Roger Stone, who was convicted of  making false statements, obstructing proceedings and witness tampering in Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian influence on the 2016 presidential election.

Four prosecutors quit that case on 11 February, when the DOJ, under pressure from Trump, recommended that Stone’s sentence be reduced.

FCA investigates Barclays CEO over Jeffrey Epstein friendship

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) are investigating Barclays CEO Jes Staley over his historic relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, the bank said in its annual report published on 12 February.

The bank described the probe as a “director effectiveness assessment” and said that regulators are looking at Staley’s “characterisation” of his friendship with Epstein.

Documents posted by the New York Times show that Epstein listed Staley as a reference on the licence for the US financier’s Virgin Islands-registered private bank, Southern Country International, in 2013.

Staley has denied having any contact with the now-deceased financier since joining Barclays in December 2015, according to the bank’s latest report.   

Barclays says it hired outside counsel to investigate the matter and that it believes that Staley has been “sufficiently transparent” with the board. 

Spain arrests former Pemex boss

The former CEO of Mexican state-controlled oil company Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) has been arrested in Spain on corruption charges related to Odebrecht and the purchase of a fertiliser plant between 2012 and 2016.

Mexico’s attorney general, Alejandro Gertz Manero, told Radio Fórmula that Spanish authorities, with support from Interpol, arrested Emilio Lozoya in Malaga on 12 February.

Lozoya was charged in May and local prosecutors allege he  was paid $3.5 million in connection with Pemex’s purchase of the fertiliser plant from a Mexican steelmaker. He is also investigated for an alleged $10 million in bribes paid to Pemex by Odebrecht. 

Lozoya has reportedly denied wrongdoing.

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