Newspaper article International New York Times

Fund Snared in Bribery Case

Newspaper article International New York Times

Fund Snared in Bribery Case

Article excerpt

F.B.I. agents arrest a consultant for an Och-Ziff Capital Management Group venture on charges he paid bribes to African officials.

African officials say the arrest of a Gabonese man on bribery charges may help pull back the curtain on a long-running foreign corruption scandal that has ensnared the giant hedge fund founded by Daniel Och.

On Tuesday, the United States authorities arrested Samuel Mebiame, a consultant who worked for a joint venture involving Och- Ziff Capital Management Group, on charges that he had paid bribes to foreign officials to secure mineral concessions in at least three African countries.

Prosecutors described Mr. Mebiame, the son of a former prime minister of Gabon, as a "fixer" who routinely paid bribes to officials in Niger, Guinea and Chad, according to a criminal complaint filed in the Federal District Court in Brooklyn.

Mr. Mebiame, 43, was arrested by F.B.I. agents in Brooklyn.

Och-Ziff, which manages more than $39 billion in assets, was not identified by name in the complaint, which instead refers to a "U.S.- based hedge fund." But two people briefed on the matter, who were not authorized to discuss it publicly, confirmed that the hedge fund was Och-Ziff.

The hedge fund has previously disclosed that it is the focus of a foreign bribery investigation in the United States by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission over whether it paid bribes in Zimbabwe, Congo and Libya. This month, Och-Ziff said it "believes that the government will pursue civil and criminal sanctions."

The case against Mr. Mebiame turns on similar allegations of bribery that would be in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a 1977 federal law that makes it a crime for United States companies to give "anything of value" to foreign officials to obtain "an improper advantage" in winning business.

Any enforcement action against Och-Ziff would be the most prominent in the hedge fund industry, a traditionally secretive corner of the financial world. …

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