The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged two former executives at Och-Ziff Capital Management Group with being the driving forces behind a far-reaching bribery scheme that violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).
Och-Ziff and two other executives previously settled charges against them in the case.
The SEC’s complaint filed today alleges that Michael L. Cohen, who headed Och-Ziff’s European office, and an investment executive on Africa-related deals, Vanja Baros, caused tens of millions of dollars in bribes to be paid to high-level government officials in Africa. Their alleged misconduct induced the Libyan Investment Authority sovereign wealth fund to invest in Och-Ziff managed funds. Cohen and Baros also allegedly directed illicit efforts to secure mining deals to benefit Och-Ziff by directing bribes to corruptly influence government officials in Libya, Chad, Niger, Guinea, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
“As alleged in our complaint, Cohen and Baros were the masterminds of Och-Ziff’s bribery scheme that improperly used investor funds to pay bribes through agents and partners to officials at the highest levels of foreign governments,” said Kara Brockmeyer, Chief of the SEC’s FCPA Unit.
The SEC’s complaint charges Cohen and Baros with violating the FCPA and Section 30A of the Securities Exchange Act, and aiding and abetting Och-Ziff’s violations. Cohen also is charged with violating Sections 206(1) and 206(2) of the Investment Advisers Act. The SEC is seeking monetary penalties against Cohen and Baros among other remedies.
The SEC’s investigation was conducted by Neil Smith and Paul Block of the FCPA Unit and Rory Alex of the Boston Regional Office. The litigation is being led by Marc Jones and Martin Healey of the Boston office. The SEC appreciates the assistance of the Fraud Section of the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations Division. The SEC also appreciates the assistance of the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority as well as the Guernsey Financial Services Commission, Jersey Financial Services Commission, Malta Financial Services Authority, Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission, Gibraltar Financial Services Commission, and Swiss Ministry of Justice.