Hagens Berman Blog

Whistleblower News: 1MDB, Ponzi Schemes, Embezzlement

by HB Whistleblower Legal Team


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Malaysia plans arrest of financier Jho Low, former Goldman banker

Malaysia has issued an arrest warrant for financier Low Taek Jho, wanted for questioning in a graft probe involving former prime minister Najib Razak and state fund 1MDB, a media report and a source familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

Jho Low, as he is popularly known, was regarded as close to Najib and his family and is seen as a central figure in the 1MDB scandal, which is the subject of multi-billion-dollar money laundering investigations underway in Malaysia and around the world.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has issued a warrant for Jho Low, as he is popularly known, and Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil, a director of SRC International, a former unit of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

The authorities are also preparing warrants for Roger Ng, a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) banker, and 1MDB’s ex-chief, Shahrol Halmi, the source said.

The source said anti-graft investigators are reaching out to Low’s lawyers to seek his return to Malaysia to give a statement.

“We know roughly where he is and efforts are being made to reach out to authorities in the countries where we believe he may be,” the source said, declining to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter. read more »

Vulture, departed: Ely Calil, backer of a farcical coup plot, died on May 28th

The man behind the “Wonga coup” in Equatorial Guinea reportedly fell down some stairs and broke his neck

The sudden, violent death of a man who had prospered for decades from oil brokering in Africa is not necessarily suspicious. Ely Calil was Nigerian-born, of Lebanese descent, and well known to African presidents, European ministers and Western oil firms. He died on May 28th, reportedly from a broken neck after falling down the stairs of his large London home.

Mr Calil amassed a fortune thanks largely to his chumminess with two Nigerian dictators of the 1980s and 1990s, Ibrahim Babangida and the flagrantly corrupt Sani Abacha. He was one of a breed of “fixers”, or “bagmen”, who flit between Africa and Europe, cultivating ties with politicians and taking a cut from “facilitation payments” from investors bidding for licences to drill for oil or dig for gold.

Although softly spoken, he was brazen. He once let a journalist from Harper’s observe his negotiations over gourmet dinners in Paris. Until recently laws in several European countries—unlike America’s more stringent Foreign Corrupt Practices Act—did not punish bribery in third countries. Mr Calil was detained by officials in Paris in 2002 as they investigated embezzlement and backhanders paid to Abacha. He was not charged, but later conceded that his actions might be considered illegal under new laws. read more »

A judge blames many parties in the Gulf’s biggest-ever corporate scandal

The default of AHAB, a prominent conglomerate, was the result of one of the largest Ponzi schemes in history, said a Cayman Islands court

The glitzy Gulf states take pride in superlatives. They have the world’s tallest building, the biggest shopping mall, even (for a time) the most expensive cocktail. To that list, add a slightly less glamorous entry: what a judge has called one of the largest Ponzi schemes in history. On June 1st a court in the Cayman Islands issued a verdict in the long-running saga of Ahmad Hamad Algosaibi & Brothers Company (AHAB), a conglomerate. When the Saudi company defaulted in 2009, its creditors scrambled to recoup billions in losses. The effective bankruptcy touched off lawsuits from Saudi Arabia to Switzerland. At last, after the longest trial in Cayman Islands’ history, it is one step closer to resolution. read more »

Former Charity Executive Pleads Guilty to Bribery and Embezzlement Scheme

A former executive of a Springfield, Missouri charity, who was also an Arkansas lobbyist, pleaded guilty in federal court today to bribing Arkansas elected officials in a multi-million-dollar scheme, and then along with other charity executives, embezzling millions of dollars from the Springfield health care organization.

Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Timothy A. Garrison for the Western District of Missouri made the announcement.

Milton Russell Cranford, aka “Rusty,” 57, of Rogers, Arkansas, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge David P. Rush to one count of federal program bribery.  Cranford was an executive at Preferred Family Healthcare Inc. (formerly known as Alternative Opportunities Inc.), a nonprofit corporation headquartered in Springfield, and oversaw the charity’s operations and lobbying efforts in the state of Arkansas. Cranford also operated three lobbying firms: The Cranford Coalition, The Capital Hill Coalition and Outcomes of Arkansas.

By pleading guilty today, Cranford admitted that he and other Preferred Family Healthcare executives paid bribes to Arkansas State Senator Jonathan Woods, Arkansas State legislator Henry Wilkins IV, a person identified in court documents as “Arkansas Senator A,” and others, to provide favorable legislative action for Cranford, his clients, and Preferred Family Healthcare. read more »