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Swiss Court Slaps $1.5M Bribery Fine On Gaddafi-Era Oil Minister’s Son

Mohamed Ghanem, the son of a Libyan oil minister during Muammar Gaddafi’s rule, has to pay $1.5 million after he was found guilty of bribery, a Swiss court ruled on Friday.

In one of the rare corruption cases tried internationally against officials from the Gaddafi regime, the Federal Criminal Court of Switzerland found Ghanem “guilty of passive bribery of foreign public officials,” and ordered him to pay the sum to the Swiss government, Reuters reports.

Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) was the plaintiff in the corruption case and was seeking the $1.5 million as compensation. The Swiss court, however, dismissed NOC’s claim and ordered Ghanem to pay the sum to the government of Switzerland.

Mohamed Ghanem is the son of Shukri Ghanem, who was oil minister at one point during Gaddafi’s rule in Libya.

Shukri Ghanem’s body was found floating on the Danube in Vienna in 2012. At the time, Austrian prosecutors ruled out foul play and said he died of a heart attack before falling into the river. Ghanem had fled Libya in 2011 after the uprising in the country started. The uprising ended in October 2011 when Gaddafi was captured and killed in Sirte.

The bribery case tried in Switzerland is one of the rare international cases bought against Gaddafi-era senior state officials.

Jean-Marc Carnicé, the lawyer of Shukri Ghanem’s son Mohamed, told Reuters he planned to appeal the Swiss court ruling from Friday, saying Mohamed Ghanem was not involved in corruption. Ghanem is now based in Bahrain and is a senior bank executive.

“For me it is a judgement based on mistaken findings. And I consider this verdict to be unjust since there is no incident of corruption,” Carnicé told Reuters.

Back in 2016, a Norwegian court convicted the former chief legal officer of Norway-based fertilizer maker Yara, Kendrick Wallace, but acquitted the former CEO Thorleif Enger, on bribery charges, including bribes allegedly paid to the family of Shukri Ghanem.

The bribery case tried in Switzerland involved an alleged payment made by Yara into Ghanem’s Swiss bank account, a source with knowledge of the case told Reuters.  

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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