Ex-Goldman Sachs banker arrested over alleged Ghana bribery scheme


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Former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. banker Asante Berko was arrested on charges that he orchestrated bribes to Ghanaian officials while employed at the investment bank.

A six-count August 2020 indictment unsealed last week in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, accuses Berko of conspiring with at least two Ghanaian officials and four others in a bribery scheme that benefited Goldman, himself and a Turkish energy company that sought to build a power plant in the African nation.

The unsealing was timed with Berko’s arrest last week at London’s Heathrow Airport, a person familiar with the matter said. He remains in UK custody.

Carl Loewenson, a lawyer for Berko, declined to comment. John Marzulli, a spokesman for Brooklyn US Attorney Breon Peace, also declined to comment. A spokesperson for Goldman didn’t immediately respond to an email and voicemail messages seeking comment about the case.

According to the indictment, Berko was at the time of the scheme a member of the team at Goldman responsible for securing and managing financing for the power plant project. He allegedly paid the bribes to obtain the necessary approvals for the Turkish company, in which Goldman held a 16% stake. Prosecutors also claim Berko laundered the bribe money through US financial institutions.

Berko was sued over the same conduct by the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2020. He last year resolved the SEC’s suit by agreeing to pay more than $329,000 to regulators without admitting or denying the allegations, court records show.

According to the SEC, Berko was a vice president in Goldman’s natural-resources group before he resigned in December 2016. He then went on to serve as managing director of Ghana’s state-owned Tema Oil Refinery Ltd. but stepped down after the SEC suit was filed.

In another foreign-bribery case, Goldman paid more than $2.3 billion for its role in the the looting of Malaysia’s 1MDB sovereign wealth fund. It was the largest penalty in US history for a violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Source: Bloomberg

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