The Economist|Dec 2014|Crying foul in Guinea

“AN emblematic tragedy” is how Sir Paul Collier, an adviser to the British government, describes the situation in Guinea—referring not to the Ebola outbreak (awful though he considers that to be) but the saga of Simandou, a mining project mired in allegations of corruption, expropriation and corporate espionage.

The saga oozes intrigue. Among its cast of characters: two of the world’s biggest mining groups, the Anglo-Australian Rio Tinto and Vale of Brazil; Beny Steinmetz, an Israeli diamond tycoon; George Soros, a billionaire philanthropist; Mark Malloch-Brown, a former deputy head of the UN; the wife of Guinea’s former leader; and, possibly, members of South Africa’s elite and security services. It is, as one lawyer involved in the case wryly puts it, “a slightly Hollywood story”.

The opening chapter was the awarding of exploration licences for four blocks at Simandou to Rio Tinto in 1997. The northern two blocks were snatched back from the company in 2008, as the then dictator, Lansana Conté, lay on his deathbed. The ostensible reason was that Rio was not developing the site quickly enough. Months later the rights to these blocks were assigned to BSG Resources (BSGR), a firm indirectly owned by a Steinmetz family trust. With no upfront payment required, the deal appeared to be very attractive for BSGR. Mo Ibrahim, an African billionaire, asked whether the Guinean officials who agreed to it were “idiots, or criminals, or both”. After Conté’s death, BSGR sold 51% of its interest to Vale for $2.5 billion, $500m of which was paid immediately.

Rio’s legal complaint is spicy stuff. It alleges that BSGR doled out $100m in bribes and that Frédéric Cilins, an associate of Mr Steinmetz, befriended staff at the business centre of the Novotel hotel in Conakry, the Guinean capital, to obtain copies of faxes detailing Rio’s plans at Simandou. The complaint also claims that Vale feigned interest in buying assets from Rio, months after the Brazilian group had begun secret negotiations with BSGR, in order to hoodwink Rio into showing it confidential information about Simandou’s geology. Seeing an opportunity to wrest control of part of the site from its rival “on the cheap”, Vale shared this data with BSGR in violation of a confidentiality agreement, Rio alleges.

As for Rio’s racketeering claims, a lawyer for BSGR describes them as “amazingly fictitious”. Nevertheless, the trust that controls BSGR is said to have hired Joe Lieberman, a former United States senator, and Louis Freeh, former head of the FBI, to conduct an internal probe of the bribery allegations—though the firm will not say whether they have begun their work.

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Guardian|Aug 2018|Giuliani says firm defending corrupt Romanian-American is paying him

Trump’s attorney said he wrote to the Romanian president under a retainer paid by Freeh Group, who represent Gabriel Popoviciu

by Jon Swaine

Donald Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani is being paid to assist lawyers working to free a wealthy Romanian-American real estate magnate who was convicted and sentenced to prison over a corrupt land deal.

Giuliani last week wrote to Romania’s president and prime minister to complain about the nature of their country’s efforts to tackle corruption. He called for an amnesty for people convicted under what he called the “excesses” of the Romanian anticorruption authorities.

The former New York City mayor said on Tuesday that he wrote the letter under a retainer he is paid by Freeh Group, a private consultancy run by Giuliani’s friend Louis Freeh, a former FBI director and federal judge. Giuliani declined to say how much he was paid.

Freeh represents Gabriel “Puiu” Popoviciu, who was convicted in 2016 of crimes relating to his purchase of land in Bucharest that he developed into a shopping mall. The conviction was upheld last year by an appeals court and Popoviciu was sentenced to seven years in prison. After police struggled to find him, he was located in London and arrested.

In a statement last year, Freeh said he had concluded that Popoviciu’s conviction and sentence were “not supported by either the facts or the law” after reviewing the case with a team that included former federal prosecutors.

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Nat’l Law Journal|Aug 2018|Giuliani Says He Had ‘No Intention of Hiding’ Effort to Influence Romanian Government

by Ryan Lovelace

Rudy Giuliani’s representation of President Donald Trump may have led to his departure from Greenberg Traurig earlier this year, but the former New York City mayor’s close ties to his high-profile client have reportedly led to new business opportunities elsewhere.

Aside from his work defending the president on cable television shows, Giuliani has been looking to influence affairs in Romania at the behest of paying interests.

Giuliani authored a letter to Romanian President Klaus Iohannis last week, first published by Romanian media. In the letter dated Aug. 22, Giuliani wrote to express “concern about the continued damage to the rule of law in Romania, committed under the pretext of law enforcement.” Giuliani’s letter called for amnesty for those who were charged and convicted under the “excesses” of Romania’s National Anticorruption Directorate, especially in light of “secret protocols” involving the Romanian Intelligence Service.

Giuliani told Politico Europe that his letter relied on information provided to him by former FBI director Louis Freeh, and that the latter’s consulting firm, Freeh Group International Solutions, was “paying my fee.”

Giuliani did not say who asked him to offer his opinion to the Romanian president.

Freeha former chairman of Pepper Hamilton who cut all ties with the firm in 2016 to return to his consulting outfit, publicly criticized the rule of law in Romania in an interview published Aug. 23 that mirrors Giuliani’s private concerns.

Why Freeh turned to Giuliani for help in Romania remains unclear, and Freeh’s firm did not respond to requests for comment on the matter. But clues may be found in examining Trump’s nominee to serve as the next U.S. ambassador to Romania, Adrian Zuckerman.

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Romania Insider|Aug 2017|Former FBI director defends wanted Romanian investor

by Irina Marica

Powerful Romanian investor Gabriel Popoviciu, who was sentenced to seven years in prison earlier this month in a fraud and corruption case, has hired former FBI director and former federal judge Louis J. Freeh as a lawyer.

Popoviciu is now wanted by the local authorities. The Police went to his house in Bucharest after the Court ruled the prison sentence, but they haven’t found him there. The businessman is believed to have left the country before the sentence was issued against him, as he had no interdiction in this sense.

Louis J. Freeh defended the Romanian investor in a recent statement, saying that the “sentence and conviction are not supported by either the facts or the law.”

He explained that, last July, he was retained to conduct an independent review of Popoviciu’s conviction before the Romanian Court of Appeals. He conducted the review with the assistance of a team consisting of former federal prosecutors and former FBI Special Agents, one of whom speaks Romanian fluently.

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Washington Life|Dec 2005|Agent´s book party

Dick and Patricia Carlson hosted a party on October 20th to celebrate “law enforcement legend” Louis Freeh’s new bestselling book“My FBI: Bringing Down the Mafia, Investigating Bill Clinton and Fighting the War on Terrorism.”

[Story features photos of attendees including Russian Ambassador Yuri Ushakov, who now serves as a top adviser to Vladimir Putin]

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Times of Israel|Apr 2016|Israelis arrested for spying on Romanian anti-corruption czar

2 ex-Mossad agents at head of firm also reportedly under investigation for cyber-attacks on state prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi

by Raoul Wootliff

Four Israelis, including two former Mossad agents, are being investigated in Romania for spying on the country’s chief anti-corruption prosecutor, according to a Romanian investigative journalism team.

Romanian prosecutors accused the Israeli billionaire Beny Steinmetz[*] and several other Israelis of conducting illicit real estate deals that cost the state nearly $150 million.

Judicial sources in Bucharest said they believed Steinmetz, a mining magnate, and Shimon Sheves, the former chief of staff of the late Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, as well as the Israeli political consultant Tal Ziberstein, conspired with Truica to illicitly bring about the transfer of state-held lands to another Romanian citizen, the Romania Libera daily reported in December.

Spokespersons for all three Israelis denied their involvement in illegal actions attributed to Truica, a media tycoon who was arrested in December and incarcerated by the Brasov Court of Appeals pending further investigation.

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[*Steinmetz is a Freeh client]

New York Times|Aug 2018|Giuliani Criticizes an Anticorruption Crackdown in Romania

By Kit Gillet

BUCHAREST, Romania — Romania, long considered one of the most corrupt states in the European Union, has made energetic efforts to root out graft, with high-profile lawmakers caught in the cross hairs and concerns about the rule of law prompting rallies attended by tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands of protesters.

Now, unexpectedly, Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s personal attorney, has waded into the debate, sending a letter to Romania’s president, Klaus Iohannis, criticizing the country’s anticorruption efforts.

Mr. Giuliani said on Wednesday that despite representing Mr. Trump he was “still an independent lawyer and consultant.” He said the work involving Romania was through his security company, Giuliani Security & Safety, which had been retained by Freeh Group International Solutions, a security company run by Louis J. Freeh, a former director of the F.B.I.

The Freeh Group did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

Mr. Freeh’s company is known to be representing a Romanian businessman, Gabriel Popoviciu, who was sentenced to seven years in prison in August 2017 in a case centered on a real-estate deal in northern Bucharest.

Criticizing the conviction last year, Mr. Freeh said the decision against Mr. Popoviciu was “not supported by either the facts or the law.”

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