Charges Unsealed Against Former Chadian Ambassador and DCM to U.S. For Bribery and Money Laundering Scheme

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On May 24, the Justice Department unsealed charges against two diplomats from Chad who were previously assigned to WashDC and Canada for international bribery and money laundering scheme.
Excerpt from DOJ’s announcement:

An indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C. was unsealed on May 20, 2021, charging the Republic of Chad’s former Ambassador to the United States and Canada and Chad’s former Deputy Chief of Mission for the United States and Canada with soliciting and accepting a $2 million bribe from a Canadian start-up energy company, and conspiring to launder the bribe payment in order to conceal its true nature.

According to court documents, Mahamoud Adam Bechir and Youssouf Hamid Takane engaged in this scheme between August 2009 and July 2014, while serving as diplomats based out of the Embassy of Chad located in Washington, D.C. According to the indictment, Bechir and Takane demanded the bribe from the Canadian start-up energy company in exchange for a promise to misuse their official positions and their influence with the government of Chad to assist the start-up energy company in obtaining oil rights in Chad. Naeem Tyab, a citizen of Canada and founding shareholder of the start-up energy company, who served as a director of the company from 2009 through 2011, is also charged in the indictment for allegedly arranging for the bribe to be paid to Bechir’s wife, co-defendant Nouracham Bechir Niam, via a sham contract for consulting services that she never actually provided. In addition to the $2 million bribe payment, the start-up energy company also issued shares in the company to Niam, to Takane’s wife, and to a third Chadian individual, as part of the bribe, according to the indictment.
[…]
All four defendants are charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering, and Bechir, Takane, and Niam are also charged with money laundering, each of which carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison. Niam and Tyab are also charged with conspiracy to violate the FCPA, which carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison. The indictment in this case was returned by the grand jury in February 2019. Tyab was arrested in the Southern District of New York on Feb. 9, 2019, and subsequently, on April 30, 2019, he entered a guilty plea to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA. As part of his guilty plea, Tyab agreed to forfeit criminal proceeds of approximately $27 million. The Honorable Richard J. Leon will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. The remaining three defendants remain at large.
[…]
The Criminal Division’s Fraud Section is responsible for investigating and prosecuting all FCPA matters. Additional information about the Justice Department’s FCPA enforcement efforts can be found at www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa.

An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Read here in full.

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In Seoul, a Spouse Blows Up Husband’s Diplomatic Career With a Slap

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Via the Embassy of Belgium in Seoul:

Mr. Peter Lescouhier has served as Ambassador of Belgium to the Republic of Korea with dedication for the past three years. During his time, he contributed to a very successful State visit in March 2019. It has however become clear that the current situation doesn’t allow him to further carry out his role in a serene way. Now that Mrs Xiang Xueqiu has personally presented her excuses and cooperated with the police, Minister of Foreign Affairs Sophie Wilmès has decided that it is in the best interest of our bilateral relations to end Ambassador Lescouhier’s tenure in the Republic of Korea this summer.

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National Security Professionals Call for Action on Hate Crimes and Racism Against Asian-Americans

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Via Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders in National Security:

[….] We are foreign policy and national security professionals, including active and retired military members, diplomats, civilian government employees, government contractors, intelligence officers, investors, scientists, and academics. We are Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, or AAPI, who come from diverse backgrounds, from third-generation Chinese-Americans whose ancestors sought more opportunities and labored to build the vital infrastructure of America’s westward expansion, to first-generation immigrants whose parents wanted to achieve the American Dream. We are allies and community members united by our commitment to America, and we are bound by a collective mission to make our country a better and more secure place.

As a community, it has been heart-wrenching to hear—and personally experience—the latest surge of hate crimes targeting Asian-Americans across our beloved country, the same country for which thousands of Asian-Americans have fought and died. The perpetuation of this prejudice has only intensified under the COVID-19 pandemic and the geopolitical and economic strains and racial polarization it has surfaced. Simultaneously, the xenophobia that is spreading as U.S. policy concentrates on great power competition has exacerbated suspicions, microaggressions, discrimination, and blatant accusations of disloyalty simply because of the way we look. Many of us have been targeted because we are either ethnically Chinese or simply look Asian. This is not to dismiss credible counterintelligence concerns as evidenced through indictments of U.S. citizens—some of whom are White—spying for China. Treating all Asian-Americans working in national security with a broad stroke of suspicion, rather than seeing us as valuable contributors, is counterproductive to the greater mission of securing the homeland. As members and allies of the AAPI community, we acknowledge that Asian-Americans are intrinsic to the fabric of American society.

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