Shipbuilding Executive Found Not Guilty in Mozambique Debt Fraud Trial
03 Dec 2019

A federal jury in Brooklyn found a Lebanese shipbuilding executive not guilty of fraud and money-laundering charges related to $2 billion of debt deals in Mozambique, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Jean Boustani, a salesman for shipbuilder Privinvest Group, was found not guilty on charges of wire fraud, securities fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering related to the debt raised to pay for contracts between Privinvest and Mozambique.

The verdict could hinder the Justice Department’s efforts to police alleged corruption in emerging-markets finance. It also delivered a victory for Privinvest and its owner, Lebanese businessman Iskandar Safa.

The Justice Department indicted Mr. Boustani, three Credit Suisse AG bankers, another Privinvest employee and three Mozambican officials in December, charging them with conspiring to use millions of dollars from the debt deals to pay bribes and kickbacks. The case is part of a new strategy by the U.S. to curb corruption by pursuing individual executives and officials.

Mr. Boustani was arrested in January in Brooklyn after being sent there by authorities in the Dominican Republic who detained him during a holiday with his wife.

“The jury’s verdict completely exonerates Mr. Boustani and confirms what Privinvest has said for the past four years—there was absolutely no wrongdoing with respect to the Mozambique maritime projects,” a spokesman for Privinvest said in a statement. “We deeply regret that an innocent man had to endure nearly a year in jail due to the U.S. government’s overreach.”

By Matt Wirz, The Wall Street Journal, 2 December 2019

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