provided by VTB Bank’s Deputy General Counsel Cicely Leemhuis on Thursday
produced some glaring inconsistencies in the prosecution’s case of U.S. v. Boustani, a trial that is
proving to be a key test of how far outside U.S. borders American laws can
prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York allege that Jean Boustani, a
businessman who sold ships and systems to Mozambique, conspired with former
Mozambican government officials and former foreign investment bankers to
misappropriate funds in a scheme that they say came to impact U.S. investors.
according to Leemhuis, who represents one of the banks that provided roughly $2
billion in loans to support the government of Mozambique’s maritime interests,
some of the U.S. government’s allegations are less than credible.
in point, the VTB banker responsible for approving the Mozambique loans is not
only still employed by the bank, but he has been promoted in the last few
years. Additionally, Leemhuis said that VTB has found no evidence to support
the allegations of wrongdoings that Andrew Pearse, the government’s star
witness, made against the VTB banker during his testimony earlier in the trial.
Had there been any indication of potential wrongdoing, Leemhuis said,
“It would have been illegal for VTB to [extend the loans.]”
v. Boustani is just the latest example of the United States
government’s attempt to extend its influence to regions of the world where it
is questionable whether it has jurisdiction.
Bank offered loans to support the development of Mozambique’s naval forces and
maritime infrastructure. It received guarantees from the government of
Mozambique and it believed that Mozambique would repay its loans in full. But
according to Leemhuis, U.S. government prosecutors suggested that she frame
VTB’s interests in the loans as that of an “investor,” not a lender.
it stands to reason, might support prosecutors’ claims that investors were
harmed by the alleged scheme. But such is not the case. VTB was a lender, and
as it happens, is not only a foreign lender, but also has been sanctioned by
the U.S. government.
Furthermore, U.S. prosecutors implied that the goods and services contracted by Boustani’s employer, Privinvest, were never provided. But that is not true. According to Leemhuis, VTB representatives reported in March 2015 following a due diligence trip to Mozambique that positive progress was being made with respect to the goods and services supported by VTB’s loans. They were, in fact, delivered.