- Reuters Reports FBI Investigation into Johnson & Johnson, GE, Siemens, and Philips: Reuters reported this week that the U.S. FBI is investigating corporate giants Johnson & Johnson, GE, Siemens, and Philips in Brazil as part of a scheme that allegedly involves the sale of medical equipment in Brazil. Prosecutors in Brazil suspect the companies channeled illegal payments to government officials in the country for two decades in an effort to obtain contracts with public health programs. Brazilian prosecutors confirmed that U.S. authorities from the DOJ and SEC are assisting the investigation in Brazil. The FBI said it would neither confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation. The SEC also declined to comment.
- OFAC adds several Russians and Chechen group to Magnitsky sanctions list: The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control imposed sanctions this week on five individuals for extrajudicial killings and torture of LGBT individuals. The sanctioned group is the Terk Special Rapid Response Team in the republic of Chechnya. The five individuals have been implicated in the deaths of whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky and Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov. As of today, 55 individuals and groups have been sanctioned under the 2012 Magnitsky Act.
- Chinese fiber optics company debarred by World Bank: A Chinese fiber optic cable manufacturer was debarred for 20 months for “fraudulent practices” in a project in Zambia. The company, Jiangsu Zhongtian Technology Co., Ltd (ZTT) will be ineligible to take part in any World Bank-financed projects during the period of debarment. ZTT misrepresented its past contracting experience by submitting falsified documents. As part of the settlement, ZTT will be required to develop an integrity compliance program consistent with the principles set out in the World Bank’s Group Integrity Compliance Guidelines. The debarment qualifies for cross-debarment with various development banks.
- Deutsche Bank hit by more raids following Panama Papers probe: Prosecutors in Frankfurt targeting eight wealthy individuals in connection to the Panama Papers raided the suspects’ homes on Wednesday. The offices of more than 20 banks, tax advisers, and asset-management companies were also raided in the tax-evasion investigation. The companies searched this week were not the targets of the prosecutors, but were being searched because they may have information about the individuals in their files. Deutsche Bank was previously raided in November in a related probe looking into money-laundering allegations against two bank employees.
- Austria to hold new general elections following corruption scandal: Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced new elections to be held after his coalition collapsed late last week following the release of a video showing his deputy, far-right leader Heinz-Christian Strache, promising public contracts to a Russian contract in return for campaign support. Strache, the leader of Austria’s Freedom Party (FPO) was filmed for hours in a villa on the Spanish island of Ibiza a few months before the 2017 parliamentary elections. In the video, he allegedly promised public contracts in exchange for campaign help from a fake Russian backer. Kurz announced that he has suggested to the Austrian President that new elections be held at the earliest possible date.
- Nine Scotland Yard anti-corruption unit employees under investigation for misconduct: It was announced on Tuesday that eight officers and one member of staff at the anti-corruption unit at Scotland Yard, the Metropolitan Police of London, are under investigation for abusing their positions in ongoing investigation. The investigation involves 21 allegations of misconduct in 25 internal investigations. The ranks of those accused range from Chief Inspector to Chief Superintendent. The allegations include lowering the severity of charges against an officer and dropping an allegation of racist behavior to protect the reputation of Scotland Yard. None of the officers under investigation have been suspended from work.