The United Arab Emirates faces the first serious test of its commitment the United Nations Convention Against Corruption. Will it open a case against long-time resident Jean Boustani, who the U.S. Justice Department says masterminded the bribery scheme that robbed the people of Mozambique of some $2 billion. The “Mozambican hidden debt” scandal pitched the nation into a deep recession, depriving thousands of basic necessities and leaving government without the resources to respond to Cyclone Idai
In its latest submission in its case against Boustani, the Justice Department reveals that much of the bribery scheme was carried out in the UAE. Boustani helped one co-conspirator open an account in a UAE bank to stash bribes, facilitated the travel of others to the UAE to further the bribery scheme, and secured UAE employment permits for three under false pretenses. Each permit, says the Justice Department, “falsely stated that the [accomplices] professions were ‘petrol engine mechanic,’ ‘diesel engine mechanic,’ and ‘hydraulic mechanic.’” In fact, the Justice Department told the court in its filing, “all three were members of the conspiracy who would receive millions of dollars of bribes and kickbacks for their roles in the scheme.”
The Justice Department’s charges against Boustani and accomplices are here. To view the Justice Department filing describing Boustani’s alleged violations of UAE law, click on DoJ Boustani filing . To view the e-mails and other documents that support the Department’s narrative, click on evidence of UAE offenses.
Mozambican citizens have suffered a terrible wrong, one which UNCAC is meant to right. Will UAE authorities do their part to help right that wrong? Will the UAE live up to its obligations under the UNODC to prosecute those who pay bribes? Those who flagrantly violate other of its laws as part of a bribery scheme?