Global Investigations Review - The law and practice of international investigations


Friday, 18 September 2020

Italian judge seizes €2.3 million from Novartis in fraud investigation

A judge in Milan has seized €2.3 million from the Italian branch of Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis over an alleged fraudulent medicine scheme, Reuters reports.

Local authorities have accused Novartis of selling medicines to hospitals at inflated prices as part of a scheme to fraudulently receive reimbursements from the regional government. Novartis said the accusations are “groundless”.

Nine private Milanese hospitals took part in the fraud scheme between 2013 and 2018, according to Italian police. 

Court stops former executive leaving UK until confiscation order paid

The UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) announced on 17 September that a judge at Southwark Crown Court has extended an order that prevents former procurement engineer Graham Marchment from leaving the country until he has paid a £43,000 confiscation order.

Marchment pleaded guilty in 2015 to accepting bribes in exchange for disclosing confidential information about oil and gas projects in Iran, Egypt, Russia, Singapore and Abu Dhabi following a joint investigation by the SFO and the City of London Police. 

The SFO said in a statement that the court will review its order on 16 October and may penalise Marchment further if he does not supply certain information required by the confiscation order before that date.

Brazilian prosecutors to help draft new money-laundering law

Brazil’s Federal Prosecution Service (MPF) announced on 17 September that it will participate in a newly formed legal commission tasked with updating Brazil’s money laundering law.

The president of Brazil’s Chamber of Representatives formed a 19-person panel on 8 September to draft a new law to replace Brazil’s current money laundering statute, which was enacted in 1998.

The MPF will be represented on the panel by deputy attorney general Antonio Bigonha and prosecutors Andrey de Mendonça and Rodrigo de Grandis.

The MPF said it wants to ensure cryptocurrencies are covered by the new legislation.

NGO accuses Somali remittance companies of moving money for sanctioned arms dealers

Swiss NGO the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime (Gitoc) said in a 17 September report that it has evidence that Somali remittance companies Amal Express and Iftin Express have processed transactions for US-sanctioned arms dealers.

Gitoc’s “Following the Money” report examined hundreds of transactions carried out between 2014 and 2020 by arms dealers based in Yemen and Somalia.

Amal Express told Gitco that it checks all its transactions against the Central Bank of Somalia’s sanctions database. The NGO said Iftin Express did not respond to a request for comment. 

UK government proposes changes to companies registry

The UK government published a list of proposals on 18 September for reforming the laws around setting up companies in the country.   

Anti-corruption campaigners have long argued that the ease with which shell companies can be created in the UK helps criminals launder their illicit money. 

The proposals include compulsory ID checks for company directors, people with significant control of the company and those filing information on its behalf.

The government also said that Companies House, the country’s company registry, should have greater powers to share the information with law enforcement agencies.

The proposals follow a three-month consultation period in 2019 where the government recieved submissions from individuals, companies and organisations.

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