A Gabon national was arrested Tuesday and charged with conspiracy to bribe officials in at least three African countries to help win mining rights for a joint venture involving U.S. hedge fund giant Och Ziff.
The DOJ said Samuel Mebiame, 43, the son of Gabon’s former prime minister, acted as a “fixer” for the joint venture.
He was arrested in Brooklyn.
Mebiame’s father, Leon Mebiame, was prime minister of Gabon from 1975 to 1990. He died in December 2015.
Och-Ziff Capital Management Group LLC said ealier this month it doubled its reserve for an FCPA settlement with the DOJ and SEC to about $414 million.
New York-based Och-Ziff was founded in 1994 by Daniel Och. It’s one of the biggest institutional alternative asset managers in the world, with about $39 billion under management.
Och-Ziff received subpoenas from the DOJ and SEC beginning in 2011 requesting information about investments its funds made in Africa, among other things.
Tuesday’s arrest could signal that the publicly traded fund has cooperated with the DOJ and SEC and might settle its own FCPA case soon. Other individuals could also be charged. The complaint referred to Mebiame’s co-conspirators but didn’t name them.
An enforcement action against Och Ziff of more than $400 million would rank at least fourth on the FCPA Blog’s top ten list of the biggest FCPA cases.
Mebiame gave money and cars to Nigerian officials, the DOJ said. He supplied an S-class Mercedes Benz and a rented Airbus jet to a Guinean official. And he arranged travel and shopping expenses for an adviser to the president of Chad, the DOJ said.
The DOJ alleged Tuesday that Mebiame was paid at least $3.5 million through 2012 for helping Och Ziff.
One of Mebiame’s emails contained a threat to expose the Africa bribery and “let the world know what kind of international crooks you are,” the DOJ said.
Mebiame voluntarily met with U.S. law enforcement officials in mid 2015 and talked about bribes to win mining rights for the Och Ziff joint venture, according to the complaint.
In its latest earnings release, Och Ziff said it may issue new preferred units to raise $500 million to fund the FCPA matter.
Och-Ziff Capital Management Group LLC trades on the NYSE under the symbol OZM.
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He’ll be the keynote speaker at the FCPA Blog NYC Conference 2016.