Welcome to This Week In Compliance: GAN’s weekly news roundup, where we curate the latest stories on compliance and anti-corruption to keep you informed. This week we cover AirAsia's CEO temporarily stepping aside amidst a corruption probe stemming from Airbus' bribery settlement. Keep reading for this breaking story and find more news below:
AirAsia's Tony Fernandes Steps Aside Amid Bribery Probe
Tony Fernandes, AirAsia's CEO, and chairman Kamarudin Meranunhas both stepped down from their positions for the following three months amid a bribery probe relating to the airline's involvement with Airbus. Fernandes, who bought the airline from the Malaysian government in 2001 for the value of less than a dollar, has built the company's market value to more than USD 1 billion. AirAsia has stated their intentions to cooperate with Malaysian corruption prosecutors who are in collaboration with The UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in the investigation.
Royal Bank of Scotland Whistleblower Sues U.S. Agencies in Bounty Battle:
A former Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) employee is suing the U.S Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over a whistleblower award he was supposedly entitled to as part of the US's post-crisis whistleblowing program. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, RBS settled with US authorities for USD 4.9 billion to stop the ongoing investigations. The ex-employee, Victor Hong, alleges U.S. authorities did not assess the information he provided to the case fairly. While Hong has tried to access SEC and DOJ records to prove his position, U.S authorities have dismissed his claims as they did not contain anything novel that helped to resolve the case.
Swedish Bank SEB Replaces Executive After Dubious Transactions Scandal:
The head of Swedish SEB Bank's Baltic division, Riho Unt, was replaced last week by the Chief Financial Officer of the department. Unt was in charge of SEB's Baltic office for the past four years during which the bank admitted that an estimated 25.8 billion euros of suspicious transactions were funneled through its Estonian branch. Unt was reportedly not blamed by SEB's management for the error but rather hailed for his efforts to drive transparency and will now serve as a chief advisor in the SEB's work against financial crime.
Former Pemex CEO Arrested in Spain for Corruption Charges:
Emilio Lozoya, the former head of Mexican oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), who had been fleeing enforcement agencies for the past ten months, was arrested in Spain this Wednesday. Lozoya was charged by Mexican authorities in two separate corruption investigations for money laundering, racketeering, and bribery in May and July of 2018. The former executive was detained on a Mexican extradition request by the Spanish police and Interpol in Málaga, where he had been staying. Mexican prosecutors are accusing Lozoya of receiving more than USD 12 million in bribes from Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht and Mexican steelmaker, Ahmsa. While he has denied all wrongdoing, Lozoya is also claimed to be in the middle of an even broader corruption scandal in Pemex spanning for the last 40 years.
Airbus Ends 2019 With USD 1.4 Billion Loss After Corruption Charges:
Airbus announced a loss of USD 1.4 billion on its 2019 financial year results. While the company increased its net orders in 2019, the losses can largely be attributed to the company's record-breaking corruption settlement for USD 3.8 billion.
Four Members of China’s Military Indicted Over Massive Equifax Breach:
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) charged four members of China's military for retrieving sensitive information on 150 million Americans by hacking into Equifax Inc in 2017. According to U.S authorities, the Chinese nationals allegedly hacked Equifax for weeks and were able to steal not only personal information such as log-in data and licenses but also trade secrets. Chinese authorities have denied all allegations and stated they are defendants of cybersecurity.
Portugal Freezes Accounts of Africa’s Richest Woman Amid Corruption Charges:
Amid Angola’s investigations into Isabel dos Santos, Africa’s richest woman, Portuguese authorities have frozen Santos’ bank accounts in the country. Angola, which is a close international partner of Portugal because of colonial history, requested Portuguese authorities to conduct the asset freeze. Santos, who is the daughter of former Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, was appointed by her father as head of Angola’s premium natural gas and petroleum company, Sonangol. Santos is being accused of embezzlement and mismanagement of Sonangol’s funds. While Santos has already been preliminarily charged with money laundering, influence peddling, harmful mismanagement and forgery of documents, she has denied all wrongdoing.