Oil Company Says Swiss Bank Abetted|Bribery Scheme That Cost it $350 Million

     MANHATTAN (CN) – A Swiss bank helped three corrupt employees make millions in a bribery scheme that cost their oil-drilling employer more than $350 million, a Saudi Arabian company claims in New York County Court.



     Rasheed Al Rushaid, owner of Al Rushaid Parker Drilling and Al Rushaid Petroleum Investment Corp., says his employees Thomas Caplis, Shekhar Shetty and James Wight supervised and monitored the sale of hundreds of millions of dollars in equipment, and were corrupted by Pictet & Cie and eight of its general partners.
     The Pictet bank and its directors are named as defendants; the Rushaid employees are not.
     “Instead of abiding by their fiduciary duties, the corrupted employees solicited and accepted bribes totaling in excess of four million dollars from certain corrupt vendors in exchange for their agreement to purchase product for ARPD from these vendors at an inflated price, without the benefit of competitive bidding, and without the usual program of enforcing the vendor’s performance of the purchase contracts,” Al Rushaid says.
     In 2010, the employees were criminally indicted for money laundering and sued in a civil action in Switzerland, according to the complaint.
     Al Rushaid said the Pictet bank made the scheme possible.
     “In order to conceal their conduct from the plaintiffs (and legal authorities), the corrupted employees needed the help of a willing banker, a role fulfilled by defendant Pictet,” the complaint states. “Pictet was the bank through which the corrupted employees laundered the funds that flowed from their fraudulent scheme.” (Parentheses in complaint.)
     Defendants include Pictet general partners Philippe Bertherat, Remy Antoine Best, Renaud Femand de Planta, Jacques Joseph de Saussure, Bertrand Francois Lambert Demole, Jean-Francois Demole, Marc Philippe Pictet, and Nicolas Lucien Pictet.
     “Pierre-Alain Chambaz (‘Chambaz’), a vice president with Pictet, who had been friends with Shetty for more than 30 years, knowingly aided the corrupted employees in breaching the fiduciary duties they owed plaintiffs by helping them set up a secret company in the British Virgin Islands to receive the bribes, and by knowingly allowing the corrupted employees to keep the funds received as bribes in Pictet bank accounts in Geneva, Switzerland,” the complaint states.
     Chambaz is not named as a defendant.
     The complaint continues: “The corrupted employees laundered over four million dollars in kickbacks through their accounts (and the account of their bogus company in the British Virgin Islands) with Pictet.” (Parentheses in complaint.)
     Al Rushaid says the bogus company was called TSJ Engineering Consulting Co., an acronym for the first initials of the allegedly corrupt employees.
     In an email about TSJ, Shetty allegedly told Chambaz to “please add the co. to make it appear to be okay,” according to the complaint.
     Chambaz allegedly did as he was told.
     “Chambaz, again acting in concert with the corrupted employees, also helped establish a Pictet bank account for TSJ, and for each of the corrupted employees individually, in Geneva. The corrupted employees directed the corrupt vendors to wire or otherwise send the bribes and kickbacks to the bank account TSJ maintained with Pictet in Geneva,” Al Rushaid says.
     The companies launched an internal investigation in 2010.
     “After plaintiffs conducted an internal investigation and discovered the bribes, it filed an action in Switzerland to freeze TSJ’s accounts with Pictet, and the accounts of each of the three corrupt employees. These accounts were frozen and remain frozen today. Furthermore, the corrupted employees have been indicted for money laundering in Geneva, Switzerland. As a result of Pictet’s aid and assistance, however, the corrupted employees were able to ‘make off’ with approximately 3.5 million dollars in bribes. These sums, however, pale in comparison to the damages suffered by plaintiffs as a result of the bribery scheme,” the complaint states.
     Those damages allegedly total more than $350 million, which Al Rushaid seeks to recover through a jury trial.
     “As a result of the bribes, the corrupted employees did nothing to insure the quality of the parts and services that were ordered; they did nothing to make sure that product/equipment that was ordered was actually delivered (much of it was not); and did nothing to make sure the parts and services were delivered on a timely basis. Consequently, plaintiffs were unable to perform their contractual obligations and incurred damages that devastated their business,” the complaint states. Al Rushaid seeks compensatory and punitive damages for aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty and civil conspiracy.
     He is represented by James Gangitano with Lyons & Lurvey of Miami.

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