2010: Keeping foreign corruption out of the United States: Four case histories

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This Report examines how politically powerful foreign officials, their relatives, and close associates – referred to in international agreements as Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) – have used the services of U.S. professionals and financial institutions to bring large amounts of suspect funds into the United States to advance their interests. Using four case histories, this Report shows how some PEPs have used U.S. lawyers, real estate and escrow agents, lobbyists, bankers, and even university officials, to circumvent U.S. anti-money laundering and anti-corruption safeguards. This Report also offers recommendations to stop the abuses….

The Subcommittee has developed four case histories that expose some of the tactics being used by PEPs and their facilitators to bring suspect funds into the United States, and identify some of the legal gaps, poor due diligence practices, and inadequate PEP controls that, at times, have made these tactics possible.

  • Obiang Case History. From 2004 to 2008, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, son of the President of Equatorial Guinea, has used U.S. lawyers, bankers, real estate agents, and escrow agents to move over $110 million in suspect funds into the United States. Mr.  Obiang is the subject of an ongoing U.S. criminal investigation, has been identified in corruption complaints filed in France, and was a focus of a 2004 Subcommittee hearing showing how Riggs Bank facilitated officials from Equatorial Guinea in opening accounts and engaging in suspect transactions….
  • Bongo Case History. From 2003 through at least 2007, Omar Bongo, President of Gabon for 41 years until his death in June 2009, employed a U.S. lobbyist, Jeffrey Birrell, to purchase six U.S.-built armored vehicles and obtain U.S. Government permission to buy six U.S.-built C-130 military cargo aircraft from Saudi Arabia to support his regime. President Omar Bongo was a focus of a 1999 Subcommittee hearing showing how he used offshore shell companies to move over $100 million in suspect funds through accounts at Citibank Private Bank. He has been mentioned in connection with the ELF oil scandal in France, and has been identified in corruption complaints filed in France…
  • Abubakar Case History. From 2000 to 2008, Jennifer Douglas, a U.S. citizen and the fourth wife of Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President and former candidate for President of Nigeria, helped her husband bring over $40 million in suspect funds into the United States through wire transfers sent by offshore corporations to U.S. bank accounts. In a 2008 civil complaint, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission alleged that Ms. Douglas received over $2 million in bribe payments in 2001 and 2002, from Siemens AG, a major German corporation. While Ms. Douglas denies wrongdoing, Siemens has already pled guilty to U.S. criminal charges and settled civil charges related to bribery and told the Subcommittee that it sent the payments to one of her U.S. accounts. In 2007, Mr. Abubakar was the subject of corruption allegations in Nigeria related to the Petroleum Technology Development Fund….
  • Angola Case History. The final case history examines three Angolan PEP accounts, involving an Angolan arms dealer, an Angolan government official, and a small Angolan private bank that caters to PEP clients, to show how the accountholders gained access to the U.S. financial system and attempted to exploit weak U.S. AML and PEP safeguards.

Detailed report link: click here

Link to the recording of hearing: click here