Ikram Mahamat Saleh v Director of the Serious Fraud Office (‘SFO’)

Posted on 06/06/2017 · Posted in Financial Litigation, Fraud, Uncategorized

The SFO has recently won a major appeal regarding a Property Freezing Order under Part 5 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (‘POCA‘) made in respect of £4.4 million plus interest – one of the biggest till date. The property constituted the proceeds of sale of 800,000 shares in the Canadian oil and gas company Caracal Energy (previously known as Griffiths Energy International Inc.) and was credited by Appellant Mrs. Ikram Mahamat Saleh to an account at the Royal Bank of Scotland in the name of Computershare Investor Services Plc.

SFO contended that the Appellant, wife of former Deputy Chief of Mission for Chad in Washington DC USA, had acquired the shares as a part of corrupt transactions that involved securing rights over the oil blocks in Chad. After voluntarily reporting itself to the Canadian law enforcement authorities in 2013, Griffiths Energy pleaded guilty under Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act 1999 and the Court of Queen’s Bench in Alberta fined them “a relatively modest sum” of Can$10,350,000. Simultaneous proceedings were issued in the UK in 2014 and resulted in the property freezing order mentioned above.

Property is organized robbery.”
George Bernard Shaw

Appellant then moved to challenge the decision, claiming the Canadian order has already confirmed that the shares were not proceeds of any crime and this part of the order was not open for contention by SFO or anyone else in any other jurisdiction for that matter. In other words, the main question before the Court was to decide whether the Canadian order in effect precluded the SFO’s actions.

The Court of Appeal was not satisfied with the Appellant’s argument of the Canadian order being an order in rem, and dismissed the appeal on the grounds that “if the Canadian Order were to preclude the SFO from pursuing the proceedings in this jurisdiction, it would be inconsistent with the statutory regime established by POCA; and that, even where the requirements for the recognition and enforcement of in rem judgments are satisfied, the Court retains a residual discretion to depart from the ruling to avoid injustice.

At the time of publishing this judgment, SFO is yet to obtain a civil recovery order against Mrs. Saleh.

Link: Ikram Mahamat Saleh v Director of the Serious Fraud Office (EWCA) Civ 2017 18

SFO Announcement: SFO wins property freezing order appeal Chad oil corruption case

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