Global Investigations Review - The law and practice of international investigations

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Monday, 04 May 2020

Fifa urges OAG to continue Blatter investigation

World football governing body Fifa has formally written to the Swiss Office of the Attorney General (OAG) “strongly insisting” that it continues investigating its former president Sepp Blatter for corruption, according to Le Monde

The French news outlet reported in April that the OAG had dropped a charge of suspicion of unfair management and breach of trust against Blatter, relating to media rights given to the Caribbean Football Union (CFU).

Fifa reportedly said it will “consider all legal options to ensure that the relevant people are held to account”.

The OAG opened criminal proceedings against Blatter in September 2015 over allegations he signed a 2005 contract between Fifa and the CFU that was “unfavourable for Fifa”. Blatter denies wrongdoing.

PNB loses attempt to appeal $45 million fraud case dismissal

The Court of Appeal in London has rejected Punjab National Bank’s (PNB’s) application to appeal against a decision to throw out its $45 million fraud claim against seven individuals and two companies based in India and the US.

In a judgment handed down on 1 May, the court upheld the view of the High Court of England and Wales, which had ruled that no fraud had been committed against PNB. It also criticised PNB’s failure to disclose existing proceedings that it had brought in the debt tribunal in Chennai, India.

PNB had accused the defendants, represented by Zaiwalla & Co law firm in London, of misrepresentation, deceit and breach of contract related to eight loans it made between 2011 and 2014.

US charges Iranian nationals for violating sanctions in oil tanker deal

The US has charged Iranian nationals Amir Dianat and Kamran Lajmiri on 1 May for allegedly violating US sanctions and export laws against Iran by helping to acquire an oil tanker in 2019.

The pair have been charged with conspiracy to provide US financial services to Iranian entities and their front companies while attempting to purchase a petroleum tanker.

According to a $2.34 million related civil forfeiture complaint, the National Iranian Oil Company, the National Iranian Tanker Company, and the IRGC-Quds Force, all specially designated nationals, took part in a scheme to launder the funds to buy the tanker. The action marks the US’s largest-ever seizure of funds linked to the Quds Force, which is also a US-designated terrorist organisation.

Accountancy regulator investigates EY over NMC Health audit

The UK’s Financial Reporting Council announced on 4 May that its enforcement division started investigating Big Four auditor EY on 15 April in connection with its 2018 audit of troubled healthcare company NMC Health.

A spokesperson for EY confirmed that the firm has been notified about the FRC’s investigation and intends to fully cooperate with the probe. 

The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority has been investigating NMC Health since February over discrepancies in previous financial statements.

NMC Health’s owner said on 29 April that an internal investigation at the company has found evidence of fraud and serious wrongdoing by a “small group of current and former executives”.

Latvia fines Citadele Bank over AML failures

Latvia’s financial regulator, the Financial and Capital Markets Commission (FCMC), fined local lender Citadele Bank €647,000 on 30 April for inadequate money laundering controls. 

The FCMC said it entered into an administrative agreement with the bank, which operates in several Baltic countries, after an inspection in 2018 uncovered insufficient know-your-customer measures and lack of diligence in monitoring large transactions. 

The agency added that it took into account the bank’s implementation of an action plan to remedy the failings prior to the agreement and its commitment to put €2.3 million towards strengthening its internal controls in 2020.

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