• 08 July 2019
    Moves to improve company transparency by the UK Crown dependencies are a good first step, but senior UK lawmakers have still to be convinced about whether they go far enough to block the flow of dirty money.

    The surprise announcement by Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man last month, to implement public beneficiary registers by 2023, followed pressure from campaigners for them to aid the fight against financial crime.

    But the ambiguity surrounding the implementation of the company-ownership registers has raised questions from senior UK lawmakers, who wonder whether the self-governing islands are merely paying lip service to the European Union during Brexit negotiations.

    By Annie Robertson.

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  • 03 July 2019
    The UK Serious Fraud Office must be willing to admit that an investigation has gone off course and abandon it if necessary, Lisa Osofsky, the American head of the agency, said last week. Her push for humility, made in a speech to an American audience, comes after several cases over UK-based conduct have foundered in US prosecutors' hands.

    Prosecutors and investigators need to follow facts where they lead instead of trying to contort them into their preconceptions about a case, Osofsky said in a speech to fraud investigators in Austin, Texas.

    "We've got to be humble enough to know that our initial theory may end up being wrong, either in part or sometimes in whole," Osofsky said. "When we find inconvenient facts, it's our obligation to change our hypothesis."

    By Richard Vanderford.

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  • 01 July 2019
    The legal tussle complicating Shell's prosecution in the Netherlands over a disputed Nigerian oil deal could have wider implications for the Dutch authorities' ability to bring big corporates to task for wrongdoing.

    Shell said in March that Dutch prosecutors were preparing to bring criminal charges against the oil company over the alleged corrupt Nigerian deal, which has already drawn Shell into an ongoing criminal trial in Milan and a $1.1 billion civil claim lodged in London by Nigeria’s government.

    Shell, Italian oil major Eni and current and former employees are accused of having paid hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes to senior Nigerian government officials in 2011 to secure a $1.3 billion deal for oil block license OPL 245. All deny any wrongdoing.

    By Martin Coyle.

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  • 25 June 2019
    A ruling authorizing Brazil’s Petrobras to seek restitution for reputational damage it suffered from the Operation Lava Jato corruption investigation marks a new risk for companies that paid bribes to officials of the state-controlled oil giant.

    If appeals by the defendants, filed yesterday, are unsuccessful, similar demands by Petrobras could be made to other companies, many of which already face financial challenges after their corrupt practices were exposed.

    In a decision handed down on June 4, but not made public until later, a panel of federal appellate judges overruled an entry-level court's decision denying the request of Petróleo Brasileiro, or Petrobras, for restitution for reputational damage it suffered in a lawsuit federal prosecutors filed against construction companies.

    By Rodrigo Russo.

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  • 24 June 2019
    Airbus’s decision to close a UK subsidiary embroiled in an ongoing bribery probe could further hamper an already troubled investigation. It might not sink the Serious Fraud Office case, but it adds unwelcome pressure.

    The SFO has been investigating GPT Special Project Management since 2012 following a whistleblowing report in 2010 by a former manager over suspected corruption.

    Its probe centers on allegations that GPT paid bribes to secure a deal worth 2 billion pounds ($2.6 billion) to upgrade the Saudi Arabian National Guard’s communications systems on behalf of the UK’s Ministry of Defence.

    By Martin Coyle.

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