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Two Charged with Bribery of High-Ranking African Officials

Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Justice Department announced Nov. 20 that the head of a non-governmental organization based in Hong Kong and Virginia and the former foreign minister of Senegal have been charged with participating in a multi-year, multimillion dollar scheme to bribe high-level officials in Chad and Uganda in exchange for business advantages for a Chinese oil and gas company, in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The two defendants are each charged with conspiring to violate the FCPA, violating the FCPA, and conspiring to commit as well as committing international money laundering. 

According to a Justice Dept. press release, the complaint alleges that one of the defendants, with the aid of the other, caused a Shanghai-headquartered conglomerate to offer a $2 million bribe to the president of Chad in exchange for securing business advantages in its efforts to obtain valuable oil rights from the Chadian government. In particular, in exchange for the bribe the president of Chad ostensibly provided the Chinese company with an exclusive opportunity to obtain particular oil rights in Chad without facing international competition.  

It is also alleged that one of the defendants caused a half a million dollar bribe to be paid to an account designated by Uganda’s minister of foreign affairs, who had recently completed his term as president of the United Nations General Assembly. The defendant also ostensibly provided the Ugandan foreign minister, as well as the Ugandan president, with gifts and promises of future benefits, including offering to share the profits of a potential joint venture in Uganda involving the Chinese company. These payments and promises were allegedly made in exchange for assistance from the Ugandan foreign minister in obtaining business advantages for the Chinese company, including the potential acquisition of an Ugandan bank.

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