The DOJ filed a civil complaint on June 30, 2015 for the forfeiture of $34 million from Griffiths Energy International Inc., a Canadian oil company. In the complaint, the DoJ claims that Griffiths Energy bribed Mr. Mahamoud Bechir, Chad’s former ambassador to the United States and Canada and Mr. Youssouf Takane the deputy chief of mission to influence the award of oil development rights.
From 2004 to 2012, Mr. Bechir served as Chad’s ambassador to the U.S. and Canada. From 2007 until this year, Mr. Takane was the deputy chief of mission. In the civil complaint, the DoJ states that 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. In late 2009, Griffiths Energy issued four million shares to the wives of Bechir and Takane in addition to another associate.
Griffiths Energy also agreed to pay Bechir’s wife a $2 million “consulting fee” to influence the award of oil development rights in Chad. After Griffiths won the development rights in February 2011, it 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,” the DOJ said.
In 2013, Griffiths Energy plead guilty in a Canadian court to bribing Bechir. The company was charged under Canada’s Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act. Griffiths cooperated with Canadian authorities.
This moral of this story is that bribery doesn’t pay. If the money touches the U.S. in any way, shape, or form, the U.S. will come after the offenders – even if they are a foreign entity.