Global Investigations Review - The law and practice of international investigations


Thursday, 30 July 2020

Special prosecutor presses for charges against Lauber over secret Fifa meetings

A Swiss special federal prosecutor has applied to lift Attorney General Michael Lauber’s legal immunity so he can be charged over secret meetings he attended with the head of Fifa.

The Swiss Office of the Attorney General said in a 30 July statement that prosecutor Stefan Keller is seeking to charge Lauber with abuse of public office, abuse of official secrets and with aiding an offender.

Keller is investigating Lauber over meetings he held with Fifa President Gianni Infantino and other officials during an OAG investigation into corruption at the football authority.

Keller has also opened criminal proceedings against Infantino and public prosecutor Rinaldo Arnold for their alleged roles in the secret meetings.

The defendants have denied wrongdoing.

Icelandic fisheries company completes internal investigation into bribery claims

Icelandic fisheries company Samherji said on 29 July that the Norwegian law firm tasked with investigating foreign bribery allegations against the company has completed its probe.

Samherji said it will share the findings with the Icelandic district prosecutor in October, and also hopes to share the findings with Namibian authorities. The company said it could not publish the investigation yet as this could jeopardise the legal rights of individuals named in the report.

The case centres on a whistleblower’s allegations that Samherji bribed Namibian officials to gain access to fishing quotas in the region.

In a statement, Samherji denied “that its management ever intended for any subsidiary to engage in wrongful activity, including bribery or money laundering”.

German finance minister defends regulator’s handling of Wirecard affair

German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) did not make mistakes in its supervision of collapsed payments company Wirecard, Reuters reports

Scholz reportedly fielded questions from politicians at a closed-door meeting concerning the financial regulator’s failure to detect an alleged multibillion-euro accounting fraud at the payments company.

The meeting took place just four days after Scholz unveiled plans to strengthen BaFin’s capabilities amid widespread criticism of its handling of the Wirecard saga.

Wirecard announced in June that €1.9 billion in its accounts probably didn’t exist and it filed for bankruptcy shortly after. 

DC circuit court to rehear Flynn appeal en banc

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit agreed on 30 July to rehear an appeal against the US Justice Department’s (DOJ) decision to drop its case against former US national security advisor Michael Flynn.

A panel of three judges at the Washington, DC appeals court ruled in June to grant the government’s motion to dismiss the charge against Flynn for making false statements to the FBI.

The appeal hearing before 11 judges will begin on 11 August.

Flynn pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI about his communication with the former Russian ambassador to the US.

In January, Flynn attempted to withdraw his guilty plea. In May, the DOJ asked a judge to dismiss the case in light of newly discovered evidence.

Ex-Pemex head denies receiving Odebrecht bribes

Emilio Lozoya, the former chief executive of Mexico’s state-owned oil company Pemex, told a Mexican court on 29 July that he did not receive bribes from Brazilian construction company Odebrecht, Reuters reports.

Mexican prosecutors have charged Lozoya with bribery and money laundering. They reportedly allege that he received $10.5 million worth of bribes from Odebrecht and stored the funds in offshore bank accounts and shell companies.

Lozoya is standing trial in Mexico after he was extradited from Spain earlier in July.

Odebrecht admitted to paying $10.5 million in bribes to Mexican officials from 2010 to 2014, according to a plea agreement the company signed with US, Brazilian and Swiss authorities in 2016.

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