In April 2013, a French citizen named Frederic Cilins was arrested in Jacksonville, Fla. and charged under federal law with obstruction of justice for offering to pay millions of dollars to a cooperating witness in a grand jury investigation in exchange for destroying incriminating evidence and providing false testimony. The grand jury investigation was examining potential violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) by Cilins’ former employer, the mineral and resource extraction company, Beny Steinmetz Group Resources (BSGR), during the award of a lucrative mining concession to BSGR in the Simandou region of Guinea, in West Africa.1
After Cilins entered a guilty plea for obstruction of justice in the Southern District of New York in March 2014, the Guinean government, relying in part upon evidence procured by the U.S. investigation into BSGR (as well as Cilins), announced that it would rescind the concession it had awarded to BSGR on the grounds that the relevant mining contracts had been procured through bribery.2 In response, establishing jurisdiction by reference to Guinea’s domestic investment and mining laws as well as the concession agreements between BSGR and Guinea, BSGR commenced an arbitration against the West African state before the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), claiming that Guinea unlawfully expropriated its investment in order to resell the mining concession to a higher bidder.3 Among the issues in the case are whether BSGR bribed Guinean officials and whether the evidence procured by U.S. authorities, including witness testimony and wiretap recordings, will play a critical role.
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