Press review
17 November 2023

Press review – Week of 13 November 2023

This week, the press review looks back at the criminal proceedings against Bashar Al-Assad, leader of Syria, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, former president of Sri Lanka, Nicolas Best, former director of the Nîmes university hospital and Kostyantyn Zhevago, billionaire and former member of the Ukrainian parliament. In addition, the withdrawal of the Anticor association's accreditation is confirmed on appeal, and the United Kingdom and the US Treasury impose a third set of sanctions against individuals and entities linked to Hamas.


United States and United Kingdom Take Coordinated Action Against Hamas Leaders and Financiers

The UK and the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) have imposed a third round of sanctions against individuals and entities affiliated with Hamas since the terrorist attacks on Israel on 7 October 2023. These measures target key Hamas officials and the means by which Iran provides support to Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). OFAC had already issued sanctions against Hamas officials and financial intermediaries on 18 and 27 October 2023, and in May 2022 against entities involved in the management of Hamas’s secret international investment portfolio. > Read article


#Internal Investigation: Internal Investigation and Negotiated Justice

Can internal investigation be used to negotiate the investigation phase with prosecuting authorities? An article in French, by Guillaume Daieff, Stéphane de Navacelle and Julie Zorrilla. > Read article


#Ethics & Compliance: The French Anti-Money Laundering Authority (ALBC), between supervision and harmonization

The European Union intends to set up a new Anti-Money Laundering Authority (AMLA). Following the same logic that led to the creation of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office in place since 2021, this agency aims to strengthen the fight against fraud at the EU level. It will have the power to impose sanctions of up to 10% of the annual turnover of an entity responsible for money laundering. Its creation is associated with the revision of the Regulation on information relating to fund transfers in order to cover the risks associated with crypto assets, which are currently insufficiently regulated.  > Read article


White collar crime – Sri Lanka: Rajapaksa brothers among 13 leaders responsible for crisis 

The Sri Lankan Supreme Court has issued a ruling, acknowledging the guilt of former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his brother Mahinda, along with 13 other leaders. Their actions, omissions, and behaviors are said to have triggered the worst financial crisis the country has ever faced. The Court ruled that the leaders violated Sri Lankans’ fundamental rights in mishandling the economy. At its peak the crisis, resulted in power outages lasting up to 13 hours per day. Sri Lanka declared bankruptcy last year and was granted a bailout by the IFM. The case was filed by activists, among which corruption watchdog Transparency International Sri Lanka. > Read article


#Antibribery &  Corruption: The administrative court of appeal confirms the cancellation of the Anticor association’s authorization to act in corruption cases

The Paris Administrative Court of Appeal has upheld the withdrawal of Anticor’s accreditation, ruling that “the consequences of the retroactive cancellation of the accreditation renewal did not entail manifestly excessive consequences”. Anticor, having held this approval since 2015, was granted the authority to intervene judicially, particularly in cases of corruption and breaches of probity. The approval had been revoked by the Paris Administrative Tribunal in 2021. Despite the support of French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, this withdrawal of approval opens a “period of uncertainty” for the association, which is involved in more than 160 proceedings, with the possibility of a final appeal to the Conseil d’Etat. > Read article


Nîmes CHU (“centre hospitalier universitaire”) director Nicolas Best on trial in Paris for passive corruption and favoritism

The current Director of Nîmes CHU, Nicolas Best, is appearing before the Paris Criminal Court on charges of favoritism when he was Director of the Annecy hospital, and of corruption when he moved to Nîmes. In particular, he was implicated by the PNF for having received gifts and meals in connection with Bouygues’ award of a public contract for the construction of a building at the Annecy hospital, as well as in connection with the award of a contract to a subcontractor for work on the Nîmes CHU site. Although companies involved in the affair undertook in May 2023 to pay a fine of €7,964,000 to the French Treasury, Nicolas Best denies the charges against him. > Read article


#International criminal law: French court issues arrest warrant against Bashar Al-Assad for 2013 chemical attacks in Syria 

The investigative judges in the Paris Crimes Against Humanity department have issued an arrest warrant against Bachar Al-Assad, accused of complicity of crimes against humanity. Three Syrian NGOs lodged a complaint before French judges for the chemical attacks of summer 2013, including the sarin gas attack in August, which led to over a thousand deaths. Three additional individuals are also subject to arrest warrant, including Bashar Al-Assad’s brother, Maher, de facto head of the 4th Division, an elite unit of the Syrian army. > Read article


French court rejects appeal to extradite Ukrainian billionaire Zhevago

The Chambery Court of Appeal has rejected the Ukrainian government’s request to extradite Ukrainian billionaire Kostyantyn Zhevago on charges of embezzlement in connection with the collapse of the “Finance and Credit” bank in 2015. Ukraine had issued in 2019 an arrest warrant for Mr. Zhevago, a member of the Ukrainian parliament from 1998 to 2019, followed by an international arrest warrant in 2021. Mr. Zhevago was arrested in December 2022 in the French ski resort of Courchevel and released on bail of €1 million. > Read article

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