Wall Street hedge fund in bribery settlement
Manhattan-based Wall Street hedge fund Och-Ziff has been forced to settle as sum of $400 million following charges relating to accusations of bribery of African officials across the continent.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) ruling included a civil settlement of $200 million, plus a further $213 million in criminal penalties. The case is part of a crackdown on corrupt practices in the world of international finance.
An Och-Ziff subsidiary has additionally admitted to conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act which prohibits the use of bribes to get or keep business, with Och-Ziff executives found guilty of ignoring corruption risks and allowing illicit transactions to proceed.
Stepping up to the mark
Och-Ziff had been accused by the SEC of being part of a wider plan to secure a commercial advantage in African countries including Libya, Chad, Niger, Guinea and Congo. This included Och-Ziff executives continuing to approve payments despite obvious signs of malpractice.
Company chairman and chief executive Daniel Och has to personally settle $2.2 million in SEC penalties related to record-keeping violations. He is the first sitting company CEO found by the SEC to be culpable for his company’s foreign-bribery violations. Mr. Och had final authority to approve all private investments by the hedge fund and did so, despite knowing the risks involved.
Och has called the case ‘a deeply disappointing episode’ that was ‘inconsistent with our core values and not representative of our hundreds of employees worldwide, who are dedicated to serving our clients with the utmost integrity.’
A related criminal case in Brooklyn, in which a Gabonese man, Samuel Mebiame, has been charged with bribing African countries while acting as a consultant on a joint venture with Och-Ziff has still to be resolved. In a separate complaint by Federal prosecutors, Mebiame is described as a ‘fixer’ who regularly paid bribes to officials in Niger, Guinea and Chad.
Mebiame allegedly told federal agents that he was ‘a one-man show’ for getting mining concessions for Och-Ziff and that his bribes included ‘nice cars.’
Andrew J. Ceresney, director of the SEC Enforcement Division, said in statement: ‘Senior executives cannot turn a blind eye to the acts of their employees or agents when they become aware of suspicious transactions with high-risk partners in foreign countries.’
Bank of Cardiff is the nation’s premier small-business direct lender. Bank of Cardiff offers direct funding to small business owners, making working capital loans, small business lines of credit, equipment financing & equipment leasing to all 50 states.