On June 30, the DOJ filed a Complaint to forfeit shares of Griffiths Energy International, a Canadian energy company accused of bribing various Republic of Chad diplomats to receive oil development rights in Chad. The diplomats include the former Chadian Ambassador to the United States and Canada, and Chad’s Deputy Chief of Mission to the United States. The assets at issue are currently frozen in the U.K.
The DOJ is seeking roughly $34 million in Griffiths Energy shares, as the cash value amount “traceable to, and involved in the laundering of, bribe payments made to the Chadian diplomats” for the rights to develop oil blocks in Chad. According to the Complaint, the former Ambassador, serving from 2004 to 2012, and the Deputy Chief of Mission, serving from approximately 2007 through the end of 2014, used their official positions to assist Griffiths Energy in securing development rights to oil blocks in Chad. The bribes were allegedly paid in several ways, including through issuance of company shares and payments to companies nominally owned by the wives and associates of the diplomats. The Complaint highlighted that before the company pursued the shell company avenue, legal counsel had warned the company that a planned consulting agreement directly with the Ambassador was illegal. This Complaint follows a separate suit by the DOJ in 2014, with sought a “civil forfeiture of over $100,000 in allegedly laundered funds traceable to the $2 million bribe payments.”