Asset Recovery Watch

ARW-223
Mahamoud Adam Bechir and Nouracham Niam / United States (South Africa account)
Chad
Ambassador to South Africa (current); former Ambassador to Canada and the United States (Bechir); Wife of Ambassador (Niam)
United States
Undertaking Recovery Effort, Location of Recovery Effort, Alleged Asset Location/Asset Location
2014
Ongoing
Art.16, Art.18, Art.23
Non-Conviction Based Asset Forfeiture
Ongoing Case
Ongoing
Before Court of First Instance
$106,488 frozen (Forfeiture claim is for up to US$1.47 million)

According to the US Department of Justice Press Release, in November 2014, a civil asset forfeiture case was brought under the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative against alleged bribery proceeds belonging to Mr. Bechir.  The US government alleges that Mr. Bechir "agreed to use his position to influence the award of oil development rights in Chad in exchange for $2 million and other valuable interests from Griffiths Energy International Inc., a Canadian company.  In order to conceal the bribe, Bechir and his wife, Nouracham Niam, 44, allegedly entered into a series of agreements with Griffiths Energy that provided for the payment of a $2 million “consulting fee” if the company secured the oil rights in Chad.  After securing these oil rights in February 2011, Griffiths Energy allegedly transferred $2 million to an account located in Washington, D.C. held by a shell company created by Niam.  In 2013, Griffiths Energy pleaded guilty in Canadian court to bribing Bechir.

 

The complaint further alleges that, after commingling the bribe payment with other funds and laundering these funds through U.S. bank accounts and real property, Bechir transferred $1,474,517 of the criminal proceeds traceable to the bribe payment to his account in South Africa, where he is now serving Chad’s Ambassador to South Africa.  The current action seeks forfeiture of $106,488.31, which is the current balance of Bechir’s accounts in South Africa.  Those funds have been seized pursuant to the complaint unsealed today.  The Department of Justice is also seeking additional assets from Bechir and Niam."  (Source: US Department of Justice Press Release, "Department of Justice Seeks Recovery of Approximately $100,000 in Bribes Paid to Former Chad Ambassador," November 7, 2014, at http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/department-justice-seeks-recovery-approxim....)  

 

In May 2015, Mr. Bechir filed an Amended Answer to the complaint, admitting that Griffiths Energy paid $2 million to Niam's company but that he had no sufficient knowledge to form a belief as to the truth of the bribery allegations.  As of October 28, 2015, the case was ongoing. (Source: US v. All Funds up to and including $1,474,517 in Interbank accounts held by or for the benefit of Nedbank, Ltd, Case No. 1:14-cv-1178 (D.D.C.), Amended Answer filed May 20, 2015 Court Docket Report as of June 23, 2016.)

NA

Federal Bureau of Investigation
Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, Department Justice, Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section
US District Court for the District of Columbia