Department of Justice Seeks Forfeiture of $34 Million in Bribe Payments to the Republic of Chad’s Former Ambassador to the U.S. and Canada
The Department filed a complaint today seeking the civil forfeiture of approximately $34 million, which represents the cash value of shares in a Canadian energy company that the company used to bribe Chad’s former Ambassador to the United States and Canada for the purpose of influencing the award of oil development rights.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Assistant Director Joseph S. Campbell of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division made the announcement.
From 2004 to 2012, Mahamoud Adam Bechir, 50, served as Chad’s Ambassador to the United States and Canada. From approximately 2007 to 2015, Youssouf Hamid Takane, 52, was the Deputy Chief of Mission. As alleged in the complaint, in 2009, Bechir and Takane agreed to use their official positions to influence the award of oil development rights in Chad to Griffiths Energy International Inc., a Canadian oil company, in exchange for shares in the company. Thereafter, in or about October 2009, Griffiths Energy issued four million shares to the wives of Bechir and Takane and to another associate.
The complaint further alleges that Griffiths Energy agreed with Bechir and his wife that the company would pay a $2 million “consulting fee” to Bechir’s wife to influence the award of oil development rights in Chad. After securing the desired oil development rights in February 2011, Griffiths Energy allegedly transferred $2 million to an account held by a shell company created by Bechir’s wife. This bribe payment was commingled and laundered through U.S. bank accounts and real property, and eventually was transferred to Bechir’s bank account in South Africa, where he is now serving as Chad’s Ambassador. In 2013, Griffiths Energy pleaded guilty in Canadian court to bribing Bechir.
The $34 million that the United States seeks in forfeiture represents the cash value of the four million shares in Griffiths Energy that were provided to the wives of Bechir and Takane and to their associate. In a separate action filed in 2014, the United States also is seeking the civil forfeiture of over $100,000 in allegedly laundered funds traceable to the $2 million bribe payment. Takane resides in the United States.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI. The case is being handled by Trial Attorney Nalina Sombuntham and Senior Trial Attorney Steven C. Parker of the Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section.
This case was brought under the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative by a team of dedicated prosecutors in the Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section, working in partnership with federal law enforcement agencies to forfeit the proceeds of foreign official corruption and, where appropriate, return those proceeds to benefit the people harmed by these acts of corruption and abuse of office. Individuals with information about possible proceeds of foreign corruption located in or laundered through the United States should contact federal law enforcement or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.