SA’s dodgy deals may be on US radar

Amer­ica has pow­ers to in­ves­ti­gate state cap­ture, says lawyer

Daily Dispatch - - Business - By HIL­LARY JOFFE

FOR­MER US at­tor­ney-gen­eral Eric Holder says the fact you are not a card-car­ry­ing US ci­ti­zen does not make you im­mune from pros­e­cu­tion by US au­thor­i­ties un­der the For­eign Cor­rupt Prac­tices Act and money laun­der­ing leg­is­la­tion.

He said that al­though the US had the abil­ity to in­dict any­one in­volved in con­tra­ven­ing US law, it was un­likely it would in­dict a head of state.

Holder’s com­ments come as civil so­ci­ety group Cor­rup­tion Watch pre­pares to ap­proach US au­thor­i­ties to pros­e­cute global con­sul­tancy McKin­sey un­der the For­eign Cor­rupt Prac­tices Act for its role in state cap­ture.

It also comes as UK politi­cian Peter Hain pushes UK and EU au­thor­i­ties to probe al­le­ga­tions of money laun­der­ing against banks in­clud­ing HSBC, as well as Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma and the Gup­tas.

Holder, who was at­tor­ney-gen­eral un­der the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion and is now a part­ner at Wash­ing­ton law firm Covington & Burl­ing, was speak­ing at an event in Jo­han­nes­burg hosted by Bow­mans.

Of the 10 largest fines levied by the US depart­ment of jus­tice, seven have been on com­pa­nies based out­side the US and most have re­lated to money laun­der­ing, ex­port con­trols or the For­eign Cor­rupt Prac­tices Act.

Holder said the abil­ity and de­sire of reg­u­la­tors and prose­cu­tors in­volved in pur­su­ing For­eign Cor­rupt Prac­tices Act cases was clear, and in many cases, the US reg­u­la­tors worked in part­ner­ship with law en­force­ment au­thor­i­ties in the UK and Europe, and more re­cently Asia.

The level of in­ter­ac­tion and co-op­er­a­tion with SA and the rest of Africa was not as de­vel­oped as with other parts of the world, but Holder said he guessed this would in­crease as economies grew in Africa and as na­tional se­cu­rity is­sues on the con­ti­nent brought the depart­ment of jus­tice more into play.

It was naive to think there would not be in­creas­ing at­ten­tion paid to South African com­pa­nies and in­di­vid­u­als do­ing busi­ness on the con­ti­nent or out­side Africa.

Asked whether the jus­tice depart­ment could be re­lied on to fa­cil­i­tate the repa­tri­a­tion of money taken il­le­gally, over and above crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion of politi­cians who pur­loined it, Holder cited the “klep­toc­racy” ini­tia­tive he launched in Kam­pala at the time of the Gaddafi regime in Libya, em­pha­sis­ing there was a mech­a­nism in place to en­sure funds and goods were repa­tri­ated to na­tions from which they were stolen.

Holder said the US gov­ern­ment had not done nearly enough to make it easy for US com­pa­nies to en­gage in Africa or en­cour­age them to do so. — BDLive

Pic­ture: GETTY IMAGES

LE­GAL VIEW: For­mer US at­tor­ney-gen­eral Eric Holder says it is naive to think there would not be in­creas­ing fo­cus on SA

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