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SEC sues Asante Berko successfully

Chris Hamblin, Editor, London, 24 June 2021


The Securities and Exchange Commission has obtained a final judgment in the US district court of the Eastern District of New York against a former executive of Goldman Sachs for his part in bribery.

Berko allegedly helped a client to secure a government contract to build and operate an electrical power plant in the Republic of Ghana, in contravention of the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act 1977.

As alleged in the complaint that the SEC made on 13 April 2020, Asante Berko, who according to the Wall Street Journal was an executive of a foreign-based subsidiary of Goldman's until 2016, arranged for his firm's client, a Turkish energy company, to funnel at least US$2.5 million to a Ghana-based intermediary to pay illicit bribes to Ghanaian government officials in order to gain their approval of an electrical-power-plant project. The complaint further alleges that Berko helped the intermediary pay more than $200,000 in bribes to various other government officials and that he personally paid more than $60,000 to members of the Ghanaian parliament and other government officials.

According to the complaint, Berko took deliberate steps to prevent his employer from detecting the bribery. He misled his employer's compliance personnel about the true purpose of the intermediary company.

Berko consented to the entry of a final judgment that permanently enjoins him from breaking the FCPA and section 30A Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and orders him to disgorge $275,000 in ill-gotten gains, plus $54,163.92 in prejudgment interest.

The WSJ quotes Berko's lawyer, Carl Loewenson Jr, a partner at the law firm of Morrison & Foerster, as saying: “Mr. Berko is pleased to put this matter behind him.” It goes on to say that the penalty that Berko's team and the SEC agreed upon was considerably more merciful than the one that the SEC originally sought in this civil lawsuit.

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