Viktor Kozeny, left, the promoter of a failed 1998 plot to take control of the Azeri state oil company during its privatization by bribing the country’s leaders, has again asked a court in the Bahamas to block his extradition to the United States. The Czech-born fugitive appeared this week at a hearing to consider an appeal on behalf of U.S. authorities. They want to bring him back to face trial for conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The appellate judges didn’t say when they’ll decide the case.
Kozeny, 46, has lived in the Bahamas for about ten years. He was arrested there at the request of the U.S. government in October 2005 and held in prison until granted bail in April 2007. Although a judge ordered his extradition, his lawyers were able to convince another judge to block it (here). The U.S. then pushed the case to the court of appeals.
Kozeny was indicted for the Azeri bribery plot by a federal grand jury in Manhattan in May 2005. His co-defendant, Frederic Bourke, was convicted in July of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and lying to FBI agents. Bourke was sentenced to a year and a day in prison. Others involved in the Azeri scheme have pleaded guilty. Waiting to be sentenced are Thomas Farrell, a director of one of Kozeny’s companies, Kozeny’s Swiss lawyer Hans Bodmer, and Clayton Lewis, a partner in Omega Advisors, Inc., a hedge fund that invested and lost about $126 million in the Azeri privatization. Kozeny was also indicted in 2003 in a New York state criminal case for stealing $182 million from investors, including Omega, AIG, and Bourke.
Kozeny’s lawyer, Clive Nicholls QC, told the appellate court this week that his client shouldn’t be extradited. The lawyer said Kozeny committed no crime under Bahamas law, which doesn’t reach bribery between third-country nationals. According to a report in the local Tribune (here), Nicholls also said Kozeny was “not a U.S. resident or national at the time the alleged offences were committed and therefore is not subject to the U.S. jurisdiction. He further submitted that when the alleged offences were committed, the Bahamas had not signed onto the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) anti-bribery convention and also that the alleged offences occurred before the [Inter-American Convention Against Corruption (IACAC)] came into force.”
In Kozeny’s indictment, the United States said he was subject to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act because he acted as an agent for U.S.-based investors, known as “domestic concerns” in the FCPA, including Kozeny’s own investment vehicle (15 U.S.C. § 78dd-2(h)(1)(A)).