Global Investigations Review - The law and practice of international investigations

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Monday, 06 July 2020

Convicted Iranian national’s lawyers criticise SDNY prosecutors for acting in “bad faith”

Lawyers for convicted Iranian national Ali Sadr Nejad have reiterated their calls for the Manhattan federal court to vacate their client’s conviction after prosecutors detailed their mistakes in handling the case.

Lawyers at Steptoe & Johnson said in a 3 July letter to the court that it should approve an earlier request to unequivocally terminate the conviction of Sadr for a raft of offences tied to an alleged scheme to violate US sanctions on Iran.

The letter followed prosecutors’ admission of the errors they made with disclosing evidence during the case.

“This is a textbook example of bad faith,” the lawyers said in the letter.

NGO: UK export agency must do more to combat corruption

UK NGO Spotlight on Corruption says the UK’s export credit agency needs to improve its anti-corruption measures after supporting corrupt contracts worth £340 million won by engineering companies Airbus and Rolls-Royce.

Both Rolls-Royce and Airbus have agreed global corruption settlements in recent years which feature the contracts in question.

The NGO said in a report released on 6 July that UK Export Finance (UKEF) has never refused a funding application over corruption suspicions.

The report also found that UKEF has also let companies that violate its anti-bribery provisions escape without punishment.

Spotlight on Corruption executive director Susan Hawley said: “It is only a matter of time before there is a major corruption scandal involving UKEF-backed companies.”

Charges expected against former Raiffeisen CEO

Prosecutors in Zurich have concluded the evidence-gathering stage of their investigation into former Raiffeisen CEO Pierin Vincenz and are expected to file charges in the coming weeks, according to a local news outlet

Prosecutors have been investigating Vincenz since 2018 for potentially improper business management during takeovers of credit card company Aduno and investment company Investnet.

The investigation started after a review by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority found that the bank’s handling of conflicts of interest had been inadequate and that its board failed to adequately supervise its former CEO, enabling him to generate personal financial gain at the bank’s expense. 

An internal investigation by Swiss law firm Homburger into Vincenz’s conduct in the matter found no evidence of criminal conduct. Vincenz has previously denied wrongdoing.

Facebook, WhatsApp halt data-sharing with Hong Kong authorities

Social media company Facebook and Facebook-owned messaging platform WhatsApp have said they will not comply with data requests from law enforcement agencies in Hong Kong until they have assessed the implications of the country’s new national security law, according to the Wall Street Journal.

A WhatsApp spokesperson reportedly said on 6 July that the company is conducting “human rights due diligence” to better understand the consequences of sharing its users’ data following a controversial new law that the Chinese government imposed on 2 July, which gives Chinese authorities sweeping new powers over the semi-autonomous region.

A Facebook spokesperson reportedly confirmed that the social media company will also stop cooperating with data requests from Hong Kong.

Head of Wirecard’s Dubai subsidiary arrested in Munich

Munich prosecutors have reportedly arrested the head of the Dubai-based subsidiary of German payments company Wirecard on charges of conspiracy to commit fraud, attempted fraud and aiding and abetting other crimes.

Oliver Bellenhaus reportedly travelled from Dubai to turn himself in to Munich prosecutors. He has not commented on the matter.

Wirecard, which has filed for bankruptcy, is at the centre of a major fraud scandal after revealing in June that its auditor couldn’t account for €1.9 billion of the company’s money.

Bellenhaus is the second former senior Wirecard executive arrested in relation to the scandal after the Munich Public Prosecutor’s Office 1 arrested the company’s former CEO, Markus Braun, on 22 June. He has not commented on the matter.

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