Global Investigations Review - The law and practice of international investigations

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Tuesday, 28 July 2020

DOJ: businessman more culpable than his accountant in Panama Papers case

Manhattan prosecutors have asked a judge to sentence former accountant Richard Gaffey to a “significant period” in jail for his role in a tax evasion scheme exposed by the Panama Papers, and agreed with Gaffey that his relative culpability in the case is less than his former client, Harald von der Goltz.

Prosecutors filed their 27 July sentencing memo for Gaffey three days after calling for von der Goltz to serve a “substantial” prison sentence. Both men pleaded guilty in February to hiding von der Goltz’s wealth from US tax authorities by using shell companies and sham foundations.

Prosecutors said von der Goltz, 83, and Gaffey, 65, should both receive sentences below the guideline minimums – 97 months and 94 months, respectively – but rejected their requests to avoid jail altogether over concerns about the prevalence of covid-19 in US prisons.

Najib sentenced over 1MDB corruption

A Malaysian court reportedly sentenced former Prime Minister Najib Razak to 12 years in prison and fined him $50 million on 28 July, following his conviction earlier that day on seven corruption charges over an embezzlement scheme related to embattled wealth fund 1MDB. 

The court convicted Najib of breach of trust, money laundering and abuse of power charges for looting $10 million from the now-defunct 1MDB. Najib has previously said he intends to appeal against any conviction.

Malaysian prosecutors have charged Najib with a further 21 counts of money laundering in a separate trial over another $550 million allegedly misappropriated from the fund. He has denied the allegations.

NGOs demand transparency over OPL 245 asset recovery in Nigeria

A collective of international anti-corruption groups has reportedly called on Nigeria’s attorney general to disclose details about funding arrangements related to asset recovery stemming from a corrupt oil deal.

The consortium, which includes UK-based Global Witness and Nigeria’s Human and Environmental Development Agenda, has compiled 25 questions to ask Abubakar Malami related to financial agreements between the Nigerian law firm put in charge of the country’s OPL 245-linked asset recovery efforts, Johnson & Johnson, and US litigation fund Drumcliffe Partners.

The OPL 245 case centres on allegations that oil companies Shell and Eni paid bribes to Nigerian politicians to win the rights to the oil field.

Huawei CFO requests Canadian intelligence documents in extradition case

Meng Wanzhou, the CFO of Chinese technology company Huawei, has demanded access to documents detailing communications between the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the US FBI about her arrest in December 2018, according to reports.

Meng’s lawyers hope that the documents will support their claims that Canadian authorities committed an abuse of process when they arrested her on the US’s behalf on allegations of fraud and violating sanctions on Iran. She denies wrongdoing.

The Huawei CFO is facing extradition to the US as part of a case that has heightened tensions between the US and China and strained the relationship between Ottawa and Beijing. Meng has requested a stay to the proceedings.

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