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, a former Citgo employee pleads guilty to bribery. Read the full story and more news below:
Former Citgo Employee Pleads Guilty to Bribery
A former procurement manager of Citgo Petroleum Corp. pleaded guilty to bribery. Jose Luis De Jongh Atencio claimed guilty of wiring bribes to individuals through shell companies in tax havens and laundering the assets in the U.S. market in a larger corrupt scheme involving Citgo's parent company Petroleos de Venezuela (PdVSA). Companies gave bribes to Citgo as a means of securing contracts with them from 2013 to 2019. Mr. De Jongh, who was fired from Citgo in 2018, also admitted that he received bribes as gifts and other things of value. The former procurement manager is facing up to 20 years in prison. The guilty plea forms part of a more extensive investigation into Venezuela's state-owned oil company PdVSA in which 28 individuals have already been charged with corruption.
Swiss Bank Pleads Guilty to Tax Evasion:
Switzerland's oldest private bank Rahn+Bodmer Co. settled money-laundering allegations for USD 22M with the U.S. Department of Justice. The bank is accused of helping American clients use offshore accounts to hide millions of dollars as a means of tax evasion. Rahn Bodmer pled guilty to the offenses, accepting that from 2004 to 2012, the bank helped U.S. clients create bank accounts with forged names or pseudonyms abroad.
U.S. Judge Sets Back 1MDB Forfeiture Claims:
A U.S. judge ruled against the Department of Justice's (DOJ) attempt of forfeiting USD 325M from Petrosaudi Oil Services' Venezuela subsidiary, suspected to be embroiled in the 1MDB corruption scandal. The Venezuelan subsidiary was suspected of laundering illegal proceeds from the 1MDB fund as it entered a joint venture with the fund in 2012, which 'paid' Petrosaudi USD 700,000 through an unrelated firm. Judge Dale Fischer ruled that the DOJ did not provide sufficient links between the payment and any criminal offense.
U.K. Announces New Anti-Corruption Sanctions Regime:
The U.K. Government confirmed it would be launching a new sanctions regime targeting corrupt individuals. The proposed sanctions would freeze the assets of individuals who are believed to have engaged in corruption and impose travel bans on them, similar to the U.S. Magnitsky Act. According to legal experts, even though it would only be a U.K. sanctions regime, its potential effects could reach financial markets outside the U.K., especially the EU.
U.S, Canada and EU Issue Sanctions on Chinese Officials for Human Rights Violations:
In a rare coordinated effort, U.S., Canadian, and EU authorities issued human rights violations sanctions against Chinese state officials. The sanctions accuse the Chinese government of being responsible for serious human rights violations against the Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities. The sanctioned officials are facing asset freezes and travel bans from the three countries. China's foreign ministry dismissed the sanctions as 'being based on disinformation'.
Ramaphosa to Face Anti-Corruption Commission:
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa will testify against the country's anti-corruption judicial commission in April. The inquiry will focus on whether or not his predecessor Jacob Zuma engaged in corruption. Several high-ranking figures in South Africa, including CEOs and politicians, have been implicated in this case which investigates embezzlement during Zuma's presidency. The anti-corruption commission is set to have another hearing on Jacob Zuma's case during the first week of April after he failed to appear before the commission to respond to the corruption allegations in mid-February 2021.