The Serious Fraud Office announced that it is set to recover millions lost in a corruption case concerning bribes that Griffiths Energy paid to Chadian diplomats in the United States and Canada.
Securing exclusive contracts with corrupt deals, Griffiths Energy bribed Chadian diplomats with discounted shares deals and “consultancy fees” using a front company “Chad Oil,” which was set up just five days before agreements were signed. Chad Oil was a vehicle used by senior diplomats at the Chadian Embassy to the United States to facilitate a deal in which the wife of the former Deputy Chief, Ikram Saleh, purchased 800,000 shares at less than 0.001$CAD each, later selling them for significant profit.
Griffiths later self-reported these and other transactions as bribes intended to illegally secure commercial interests in Chad and pleaded guilty to corruption charges brought by the Canadian authorities.
Following the takeover by Griffiths Energy by a U.K. corporation and share-sale via a U.K. broker, the corrupt proceeds entered the U.K.’s jurisdiction, and the SFO began civil recovery proceedings to secure the £4.4m share sale profits from Saleh. The matter was brought to a three-day trial at the High Court, which today granted the SFO’s order to the value of £4.4m, the first time money has been returned overseas in a civil recovery case.
The ruling “follows four years of tireless efforts by the SFO to recover the proceeds of this corrupt deal for oil in Chad,” said SFO Director, David Green. “This is a positive result in the ongoing fight against criminals who attempt to hide their ill-gotten gains in our jurisdiction.” The recovered money will be transferred to the Department for International Development, who will identify key projects in which to invest to benefit the poorest in Chad.
This corruption case follows two SFO landmark cases, which funds recovered in bribery and corruption prosecutions were returned and reinvested in the country. When senior executives at Smith & Ouzman were convicted of foreign bribery in 2016, the SFO’s confiscation order paid for seven new ambulances in Kenya, while the deferred prosecution agreement against Standard Bank involved payment of £4.9m to the Government of Tanzania.