Global Investigations Review - The law and practice of international investigations


Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Rio Tinto in talks with SFO over Guinea corruption case

Anglo-Australian mining company Rio Tinto is in talks with the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) about resolving a corruption investigation with a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA), the Financial Times reports.

The SFO has been investigating Rio Tinto over “suspected corruption in the conduct of business in Guinea” since 2017

The company self-reported in 2016 that it had found emails referring to a $10.5 million payment to a French banker linked to Guinea’s president. The agent gave Rio Tinto advice about the vast iron ore deposit at Simandou, Guinea.

A source close to the negotiations told the FT that it is unclear whether the negotiations will result in a DPA.

Rio Tinto declined to comment on the reports.

Bank of Ireland fined after cyberattack reveals compliance deficiencies

Ireland’s Central Bank has fined the Bank of Ireland (BOI) €1.6 million for inadequate fraud prevention procedures at a former subsidiary after a criminal was able to trick bank staff into sending them a client’s funds. 

In a 28 July statement, the Central Bank said that in 2014 a thief stole over €100,000 from a BOI client’s account.

An investigation by the Central Bank after the incident found that the bank had “inadequate systems and controls to minimise the risk of loss from fraud”, among other deficiencies. 

The regulator said the BOI subsidiary took too long to report the 2014 incident and remediate the compliance failures that allowed the cyber breach to occur. 

The bank admitted to the regulatory breaches. 

Prosecutors challenge Halkbank’s effort to recuse New York judge

Manhattan federal prosecutors have accused Turkish state-owned lender Halkbank of “injecting a Turkish political dispute” into a US sanctions case by seeking to remove the presiding judge.

Halkbank recently demanded the judge’s recusal, citing comments he made at a legal symposium in 2014, as well as his handling of the linked prosecution of a former senior manager at the bank.

Manhattan prosecutors said in a 28 July response to the recusal motion that the judge’s comments do not show he is prejudiced against the Turkish lender. 

Judge Richard Berman called Turkey’s punishment of a group of local law enforcement officers that investigated Halkbank an “attack” on the rule of law.

Turkey accused the prosecutors, policemen and judges of conducting an illegitimate investigation. 

China denies harbouring 1MDB financier

The Chinese embassy in Kuala Lumpar has denied claims that China is protecting fugitive Malaysian financier Jho Low and says its authorities have been unable to locate him, Reuters reports

The embassy reportedly made the comments in response to reports in Malaysia that Low is residing in Macau and that Chinese authorities are unwilling to extradite him.

Malaysian and US authorities have charged Low with masterminding a multibillion-dollar embezzlement scheme at Malaysia’s now-shuttered sovereign wealth fund 1MDB. Low denies the charges.

A Malaysian court convicted former prime minister Najib Razak on 28 July for corruption linked to the 1MDB scandal, only days after US bank Goldman Sachs reached a $3.9 billion settlement with the Malaysian government over its role in the affair.

UK FRC fines BDO over audit quality

The UK Financial Reporting Council has fined BDO £160,000 for failures in its audit of multinational insurance firm AmTrust Europe.

The agency said on 29 July that it identified one breach in BDO’s audit for the 2013/14 financial year related to failures to document its work.

The agency also found three violations in BDO’s 2014/15 audit, including the “use of independent actuaries as auditor’s experts”. 

The FRC also reprimanded BDO partner David Roberts. He has not commented on the matter.  

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