TORONTO – The U.S. Justice Department is attempting to recover $34 million, the cash value of shares Calgary-based Griffiths Energy used to bribe the Republic of Chad’s former ambassador to the United States and Canada.
The Justice Department said in a statement Tuesday the Canadian energy company used the bribe to influence the award of oil development rights in Chad.
In 2013, the former Griffiths Energy company pleaded guilty in court to bribing Chad diplomat Mahamoud Adam Bechir, 50. Bechir was Chad’s ambassador to the United States and Canada from 2004 until 2012.
According to the justice department, Griffiths Energy is alleged to have paid $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,” said the department.
Bechir is currently Chad’s ambassador in South Africa.
The company is also alleged to have issued four million shares to the wives of Bechir and Youssouf Hamid Takane, 52, who was the deputy chief of mission at the time.
Griffiths Energy was fined $10.3 million to settle Canadian charges under the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act. The company changed its name to Caracal Energy Inc. in 2013 before being bought by Glencore in 2014.
The money the U.S. is trying to seize is currently being held in an account by the Royal Bank of Scotland under the name of Bechir’s and Takane’s wives. The U.K. froze the account and has blocked attempts by the U.S. to seize the proceeds.
The U.S. claims it has jurisdiction because the Chadian officials, Bechir and Takane, were based in Washington, D.C. at the time of the offence.