Bribery and Corruption

Property manager found guilty of corruption

The SFO is conducting a criminal investigation into Soma Oil & Gas Holdings Ltd, Soma Oil & Gas Exploration Limited, Soma Management Limited and others in relation to allegations of corruption in Somalia.

It is alleged that Soma Oil & Gas agreed to pay $580,000 for “capacity building arrangements” at Somalia’s ministry of petroleum, which involved funding the salaries of individuals contracted to work for the department.

A recent update has revealed that the UK court has rejected a judicial review application by Soma Oil & Gas to shut down an SFO corruption investigation, despite the company claiming it faces possible financial ruin and has been fully cooperative with authorities.

SFO, 4 August 2016

Beckenbauer investigated for corruption over 2006 World Cup

Prosecutors in Switzerland have started a criminal investigation into Franz Beckenbauer and three others over Germany's bid for the 2006 World Cup.

As members of the organising committee, they are suspected of fraud, criminal mismanagement, money laundering and misappropriation. Beckenbauer, who headed the bid, has previously denied corruption.

In October 2015, Beckenbauer said he had made a "mistake" in the bidding process to host the competition in 2000 but denied votes had been bought. In March, football's world governing body Fifa began looking into six men for their part in Germany winning the rights to host the 2006 cup.

BBC, 1 September 2016

FBI probes possible U.S. ties to corruption by former Ukraine president

The FBI and U.S. Justice Department are investigating possible U.S. ties to alleged corruption involving the former president of Ukraine, including the work of firms headed by political operatives Paul Manafort and Tony Podesta.

The broad-based investigation was looking into whether U.S. companies and the financial system were used to enable corruption by the party of former pro-Russian Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych.

The New York Times reported that Manafort had received cash payments worth more than $12 million over five years that were itemised on secret ledgers belonging to Yanukovich's Party of Regions.

Reuters (CNN), 20 August 2016

AstraZeneca agreement on $5.5m for settlement of alleged bribery probe

U.S. regulators have said that pharmaceutical company, AstraZeneca PLC, has agreed to pay $5.5 million to settle an investigation into alleged bribery at the drugmaker’s Chinese and Russian units.

The Securities and Exchange Commission allege that staff at the company had procured prescriptions by making payments and giving other gifts and benefits to state-employed health-care workers. Allegedly, such  improper payments date as far back as 2005 and were disguised as fraudulent expense claims and fabricated speaker events.

AstraZeneca agreed to settle the investigation without admitting or denying wrongdoing, the SEC said. The regulator added that AstraZeneca had already taken steps to address shortcomings in its compliance program prior to the SEC probe and had continued to do so in response to the findings of the investigation.

Wall Street Journal, 31 August 2016

RBC to pay $2.5m for proxy violations relating to Rural/ Metro sale

The U.S Securities and Exchange Commission has revealed in a statement that RBC Capital Markets LCC has agreed to pay $2.5 million for causing false and misleading disclosures in a proxy statement for the sale of ambulance company Rural/Metro Corp.

On consideration of the sale of the company to a private equity firm, RBC was paid $500,000 to present an opinion to the company's board in 2011.

An SEC investigation found that RBC’s presentation sought to make the bid look more attractive by including "materially false and misleading statements".

Reuters, 31 August 2016

SEC case of Neuromama Limited $35 Billion Company

In a filing this week with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Neuromama Limited revealed that the chairman of the company's board, Vladislav Zubkis, is taking an open-ended leave of absence. This move comes after the search engine company's market value surged to $35 billion on little trading volume before the U.S. regulators halted its shares, citing "potentially manipulative transactions on the company's stock".

Bloomberg, 25 August 2016

Fraud

Pair sentenced for decade-long insider fraud scheme

A former broker and his partner have been jailed over a conspiracy to defraud his employer of more than US$2.3 million (over £1.757 million).

Simon Higginson, a broker for maritime insurance firm Willis Group Limited (now Willis Towers Watson), led a sophisticated fraud scheme involving the identity theft of a business contact and on 19 August 2016 was sentenced to five years imprisonment. His partner Lee Willis, was sentenced to four years imprisonment.

Simon Higginson and Lee Willis were charged with conspiracy to defraud Willis Group Limited by dishonestly claiming and receiving, into back accounts held in the names Brokermarine and Enargee Consulting Limited, payments they said were commission in usual business transactions.

Higginson was additionally charged with obtaining money transfers by deception and fraud contrary to section 1 of the Fraud Act 2006. Lee Willis was additionally charged with concealing, disguising, converting or transferring criminal property, or removing criminal property from England and Wales and Fraud by Abuse of Position contrary  to section 4 Fraud Act 2006. 

The Crown Prosecution Service, 19 August 2016

Cyber Crime

FBI call for enhanced security after hacking of state voter database

After uncovering evidence that hackers have targeted two state election databases in recent weeks, the FBI have issued a warning to US election officials that there needs to be an increase in computer security measures.

It has been reported that the hackers were able to download personal data on up to 200,000 voters in the Illinois attack.   It is understood that the Arizona attack was more limited and involved introducing malicious software into the voter registration system.

The Guardian, 29 August 2016

Cybercrime damages expected to cost the world $6 trillion by 2021

Cybercrime will continue its stratospheric growth over the next five years, according to a recent report published by Cybersecurity Ventures. While there are numerous contributors to the rise in cybercrime -- which is expected to cost the world more than $6 trillion by 2021, up from $3 trillion in 2015 - the most obvious predictor is a massive expansion of the global attack surface which hackers target.

Data remains the primary hacker target. Microsoft predicts by 2020 data volumes online will be 50 times greater than today. According to research conducted by Secure Decisions, there are about 111 billion lines of new software code being produced every year, which will include billions of vulnerabilities that could be open to exploitation.

Cyber threats appear to have evolved from targeting computer software to humans, cars, railways, planes and power grids. As a result, as we move into a more digital society there is an increasing amount of cyber that will need to be safeguarded.

Cybersecurity Ventures, 22 August 2016

Health and Safety

Optometrist Honey Rose given two-year suspended sentence

An optometrist who failed to spot an eye condition in a boy who later died has been given a suspended 2 year jail term.

Honey Rose, 35, from Newham, East London, performed a routine eye test on the child five months earlier. She claimed she had 'done her best for him' but jurors at Ipswich Crown Court found her guilty of gross negligence manslaughter.

Rose's barrister, Ian Stern QC, said "for whatever reason, she did not look at the back of the eye, she had no foreseeability as to the consequences." He also described her failure to examine the back of Vincent's eyes as an "inexplicable lack of action" and a "one-off".

Sentencing her, Judge Jeremy Stuart-Smith said it was the first case of its type and accepted Rose's lack of diagnosis had been a "one-off", but said she had tried to "cover up" her actions when she found out Vinnie had died by trying to show the boy had not co-operated and demonstrated signs of photophobia when being assessed.

Rose is to apply for permission to appeal, according to the Association of Optometrists.

BBC, 26 August 2016

Young worker engulfed in flames in distillery blaze

A 21-year-old employee, of Alcohol Limited, was severely burnt in a fire that destroyed a distillery warehouse in November 2012. The employee sustained twenty percent burns to his head, neck and hands after he was engulfed in flames when ethyl acetate – a highly flammable liquid – was being transferred from a bulk storage tank into an intermediate bulk container.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found that the most likely source of ignition was a discharge of static electricity generated by the transfer of the liquid. Alcohols Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, and was fined £270,000 and ordered to pay costs of £25,009.

HSE, 18 August 2016

Money Laundering

Brazil police probe money laundering tied to Olympic ticket ring

On 23 August 2016, Brazilian police claimed to have uncovered emails between International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Patrick Hickey and the head of the THG Sports hospitability company that discussed the illegal sale of Olympic tickets.

It is understood that police in Rio de Janeiro are investigating bank documents amid suspicion of money laundering tied to the illegal ticketing ring. Three members of the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) are suspected of involvement in the illegal sales.

Reuters, 23 August 2016

New Zealand police strike deal with Chinese corruption suspect

On 23 August New Zealand police announced that they reached a deal with William Yan,  a Chinese-born businessman for him to pay a record NZ$42million (£23.75million) fine to settle legal action following a money laundering investigation. This amount is to be shared between the New Zealand and Chinese governments.

William Yan, a New Zealand citizen, is on China's most-wanted list of international fugitives, accused of embezzlement. It is understood that the settlement announced on Tuesday means that Yan avoids any criminal or civil responsibility.

Reuters, 23 August 2016

Sanctions

Does Russia’s use of Iran airbases for Syria strikes breach sanctions?

The US State Department has suggested that Russia’s use of Iranian military airbases to launch strikes in Syria could violate UN sanctions on Iran which prohibit the supply, sale, and transfer of military aircraft to Iran unless approved by the UN Security Council. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has denied this allegation, saying yesterday that “there has been no supply, sale, or transfer of fighter jets to Iran…The Russian Air Force uses these fighter jets with Iran’s approval".

European Sanctions, 18 August 2016

UN & EU de-list 2 Iraqi entities

On 12 August 2016 the UN Security Council Sanctions Committee removed the Iraqi Oil Tanker Company and the State Oil Marketing Organisation from the UN Iraq list. The EU has just implemented those de-listings, amending Council Regulation 1210/2003 by Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 2016/1398 with effect from 21 August 2016.

European Sanctions, 23 August 2016