Welcome to This Week In Compliance: GAN’s weekly news roundup, where we curate the latest stories on compliance and anti-corruption to keep you informed. This week, a former employee of Gunvor pleads guilty to bribery. Read the full story and more news below:
Former Gunvor Employee Pleads Guilty to Bribery:
Raymond Kohut, a former employee of energy trader Gunvor Group, pleaded guilty to bribery. Kohut stated that he was part of a scheme in which Gunvor bribed Ecuadorian state officials to access lucrative contracts with Ecuador's state-owned company Petroecuador on behalf of two Asian oil companies. The public officials were reportedly paid USD 22M worth in bribes from 2012 to 2020. Mr. Kohut agreed to pay USD 2.2M as part of the guilty plea.
Investigation Unveils Corruption at Eskom:
A forensic investigation on oil blending and storage company Econ Oil & Energy found that the company secured deals with South Africa's state power utility Eskom at inflated prices. According to the investigation, Econ overcharged South Africa's state power plant approximately USD 82.6M from 2012 to 2016. Eskom, which denied the allegations, said it temporarily banned Econ Oil from its supplier network and would wait until the company makes further responses in the following months.
Societe Generale Appeals AML Charges:
The former Head of Compliance and former Head of the Swiss division of French Bank Societe Generale are appealing fines of USD 96,000 imposed by Swiss financial institutions in 2019. The fines concern failures to report irregularities of suspicious fundings committed by an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin worth USD 700M. While Swiss authorities found the men guilty of failing to meet anti-money laundering requirements, they stated they would appeal the verdict.
U.S. Actor Accused of Fraud:
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) accused actor Zachary Horwitz of fraud by making up fake deals claiming he had exclusive contracts to sell films to Netflix and HBO. Horwitz made fake documents and shell companies to defraud five investors to acquire funds for the alleged distribution of a movie on Netflix and HBO. According to the SEC, Horwitz collected more than USD 690M. Horwitz was sentenced to a count of wire fraud and might face 20 years in prison.
Former Malaysian PM to Appeal Corruption Sentence:
Najib Razak, Malaysia's former Prime Minister who was voted out in 2018 after the 1MDB corruption scandal came to light, is appealing his conviction on corruption charges on the case. Najib is accused of 42 criminal charges, including abuse of power, breach of trust, money laundering, and receiving USD 10M from a 1MDB unit. A Malaysian court will be hearing his case from April 5th to 22nd.
Chief of the SEC's Whistleblower Program Leaves Office:
Jane Norberg, the Chief of the Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) whistleblowing program, announced she is leaving the agency this month. Norberg began serving in the program in 2012, near its inception. During her tenure, she made significant improvements to the awarding process's efficiency and oversaw a substantial increase in the number of issued awards. During her period as Chief of the Office, 110 whistleblowers were awarded cumulative awards of around USD 640M, and enforcement actions have resulted in orders of more than USD 3.1BN in sanctions.