SocGen faces UK evidence request for US bribery probe into Libyan ties

19 March 2017 7:56pm

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27 February 2017. By Ben Lucas.

Société Générale is expecting an order from the UK's corruption-fighting agency to hand over evidence to US officials probing the bank's dealings with Libya's government-run investment fund.

The Serious Fraud Office first sent the bank an information request in November, but it has since withdrawn it, the High Court in London heard today.

Lawyers for the bank said they expect a new request, known as a "Section 2 notice."

The Libyan Investment Authority, or LIA, has taken the bank to court in the UK seeking $1.5 billion in damages for allegedly bribing its employees into making risky trades worth $2.1 billion that have since crashed in value.

The US Department of Justice is investigating the claims.

The bank denies the allegations and is cooperating with the DOJ's probe.

"[The SFO request] has been withdrawn because of overlaps with a French request," said Alex Bailin, a lawyer representing SocGen employee Marc El Asmar.

"[The SFO] will issue another one, but we don't know what it is going to be," Adrian Beltrami, representing the bank, told the court today.

The SFO's move to help the DOJ emerged during a hearing at the High Court today, where Judge Nigel Teare ruled that aspects of the trial can be heard in private.

Lawyers representing two SocGen employees, El Asmar and Anthony Chamie, asked the court to hold parts of the civil claim trial — scheduled to begin on April 25 — in private, to protect their clients from incriminating themselves. Information revealed in the UK court could be used to prosecute the employees in the US, the lawyers argued.

The SFO hasn't launched a formal probe into the bank, and declined to comment on the Section 2 notice.

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