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SEC. v. Michael L. Cohen and Vanja Baros

 
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Vanja Baros
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SEC Civil
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January 26, 2017
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SEC. v. Michael L. Cohen and Vanja Baros
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SEC. v. Michael L. Cohen and Vanja Baros, No. 1:17-cv-00430 (E.D.N.Y. 2017)
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The SEC’s case against Michael Cohen and Vanja Baros is an expansion of the 2016 FCPA enforcement action against Och-Ziff, a pair of Och-Ziff subsidiaries, and two executives—Daniel Och and Joel Frank.
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Financial Services/Financial Institutions
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Niger
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2007; 2008; 2009; 2010; 2011; 2012.
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Unnamed foreign officials of Chad, Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, Libya, and Niger.
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Vanja Baros, an Australian citizen residing in the U.K., was an analyst in the European office of the New York-based hedge fund, Och-Ziff Capital Management LLC. Baros worked closely with Michael Cohen, a dual U.S. and U.K. citizen residing in London and partner at Och-Ziff. Och-Ziff, among the world’s largest hedge funds, provides investment advisory and management services in exchange for management fees and interest income. Och-Ziff’s common stock is registered with the SEC and is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. In September 2016, Och-Ziff resolved an enforcement action by the DOJ and SEC for violations of the FCPA.

The SEC claims that between 2007 and continuing through at least August 2012, Baros and Cohen allegedly executed multiple schemes involving corrupt transactions and bribes to high-ranking government officials in several African countries including Libya, Chad, Niger, Guinea, Congo, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. According to the SEC, Baros began working with Cohen at Och-Ziff in 2007 and participated in multiple corrupt transactions that aimed to secure Och-Ziff special access to investment opportunities in Africa, obtain or retain business for the hedge fund or its subsidiaries, and financially benefit themselves in the process.

To facilitate the various schemes, Cohen and Baros, acting on behalf of Och-Ziff, allegedly engaged the services of multiple agents, intermediaries, and business partners who promoted themselves as having connections to high-ranking foreign government officials and, according to the SEC, typically had reputations for engaging in unsavory business practices. Baros and Cohen later allegedly funneled tens of millions of dollars (often from Och-Ziff investor accounts) to those agents, intermediaries, and business partners, knowing that at least of portion of those monies would be paid as bribes to government officials.

On January 26, 2017, the SEC filed a complaint against Baros and Cohen in the Eastern District of New York. The complaint charged Baros and Cohen with multiple violations of the FCPA, as well as multiple counts of aiding and abetting Och-Ziff’s violations of the FCPA and the Investment Advisers Act. Cohen was also separately charged with one substantive violation of the Investment Advisers Act.
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Aiding and abetting anti-bribery, Aiding and abetting books and records, Anti-bribery (Other Persons), Books and records (Individual), Internal Controls (Individual)
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Not stated.
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0
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Agent of Issuer, Other Person
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Senior Operations
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Foreign
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Australia
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Contract Procurement/Retention, Other Business Advantage
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Not stated.
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Cash, Travel
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Customs Broker or Agent/Consultant, Sales Agent/Consultant
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Not stated.
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Chad, Congo, Guinea, Libya, Niger
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No
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No