Global Investigations Review - The law and practice of international investigations

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Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Former Hong Kong stock exchange executive charged with accepting bribes

Hong Kong prosecutors have charged a former Hong Kong stock exchange executive and a consultant over an alleged bribery scheme.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) announced on 25 March that it has charged former executive Eugene Yeoh Kim-loong with one count each of accepting a bribe and misconduct in a public office, and former consultant Richard Lum Chor-wah with one count of paying a bribe.

Prosecutors allege that financial consultant Lum paid Yeoh $2 million to support the initial public offering of a company called Shen You Holdings.

ICAC said the case was referred to them by Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission.

SEC announces it has paid $570,000 to two whistleblowers

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has announced that it has paid two whistleblowers a total of $570,000 for providing significant information that led to multiple successful enforcement actions. 

The SEC said in a 24 March press release that it had paid one whistleblower $478,000 and another $94,000.

The agency announced a day earlier that it awarded $1.6 million to a whistleblower who provided information about securities law violations that led to charges and enforcement actions. 

According to the SEC, it has awarded more than $396 million to 76 whistleblowers since handing out the first such award in 2012.

Mexico formally requests Lozoya’s extradition from Spain

The Mexican government has requested the extradition of former Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) director Emilio Lozoya after his arrest in Spain in February, according to reports.

Prosecutors allege that Lozoya received $10 million in bribes from Brazilian construction company Odebrecht while leading the state-owned oil company.

Prosecutors are also investigating whether he received $3.5 million in connection with Pemex’s purchase of a fertiliser plant from a Mexican steelmaker.

Lozoya has denied both allegations. 

Mexico had until 26 March to formally request Lozoya’s extradition from Spain.

Odebrecht employees allegedly paid $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.

AFA and CGU agree closer cooperation

The French Anti-corruption Agency (AFA) and Brazil’s Comptroller General of the Union (CGU) have agreed to bolster their cooperation in international corruption investigations.

The AFA said on 25 March that its representatives had met with CGU officials to consolidate a cooperation protocol that both parties signed in December 2019.

“This sharing of experiences, practices and challenges was an opportunity to deepen the operational cooperation between the AFA and the CGU,” the AFA said.

NMC Health’s debt balloons to $6.6 billion amid investigations

Dubai-based healthcare company NMC Health has revealed a further $1.2 billion in debt up from the $5 billion in total debt that it reported earlier in March.

NMC Health said in a filing to the London Stock Exchange on 24 March that it had discovered two separate debts worth  $400 million and $800 million each.

The company said it had also verified $300 million in debt that was previously known to the board, bringing its total debt to $6.6 billion. 

NMC Health is conducting an investigation into allegations that it has failed to disclose the full extent of its debt, which were raised by short-seller Muddy Waters Research in December 2019.

The UK Financial Conduct Authority is investigating accounting discrepancies at the company. 

Swedish FSA delays results of SEB money laundering investigation

Sweden's Financial Supervisory Authority (FSA) has announced that it will reveal its decision on alleged money laundering violations at Swedish bank Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken (SEB) in June.

The FSA originally intended to conclude its investigation and decide whether to penalise SEB in April.

The FSA said the delay was due to the spread of the coronavirus which had prompted reprioritisations in its workload.

The agency is investigating SEB over suspicious payments that flowed through its subsidiaries in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. SEB has previously said that it is working with the FSA on the matter.

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