Obstruction Charges Filed in Alleged Guinean Mining Rights Bribe Scheme
Federal authorities have arrested a French national as part of an ongoing foreign bribery investigation.
Frederic Cilins, 50, was arrested Sunday in Jacksonville, Fla. and has been accused of obstructing an ongoing investigation into whether an unnamed mining company and affiliates paid bribes for mining rights in Guinea’s Simandou region.
According to the Justice Department, the investigation involved undercover operations and the wife of a deceased foreign official who chose to become a cooperating witness in hopes of gaining immunity. the now-dead Guinean official could allegedly influence the award of mining concessions.
According to a complaint filed in the Southern District of New York, Cilins agreed to pay what the Justice Department calls “substantial sums” of money to induce a witness to turn over documents so they could be destroyed. Cilins allegedly made the statements in recorded phone calls and face-to-face meetings and knew that the documents had been requested by the FBI to be produced before a federal grand jury.
Prosecutors claim the mining company and affiliates offered the official’s wife millions of dollars which would be distributed to her and officials in the government who might have authority over the award of mining rights. The documents Cilins allegedly wanted destroyed include copies of contracts between the unnamed mining company and affiliates and that former wife.
The complaint also says Cilins allegedly tried to induce the witness to sign a false affidavit regarding the grand jury investigation.
Cilins was detained pending a hearing scheduled for Thursday and made an initial appearance in the Middle District of Florida.
He is charged with tampering with a witness, victim or informant, with obstructing a criminal investigation, and with and destroying, altering or falsifying records in a federal investigation. The Justice Department said the obstruction charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Each tampering and record-destruction charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.