United States v. Thiam, No. 1:16-mj-07960 (S.D.N.Y. 2016)
Minister of Mines and Geology of the Republic of Guinea.
Mahmoud Thiam is a U.S. citizen who served as the Minister of Mines and Geology of the Republic of Guinea from approximately 2009 until 2010.
According to the DOJ, between 2009 and 2010, while the Guinean Minister of Mines and Geology, Thiam allegedly engaged in a scheme to accept bribes from senior representatives of an unnamed Chinese conglomerate and to launder that money into the United States and elsewhere. Specifically, Thiam allegedly received $8.5 million in improper payments from the Chinese conglomerate in exchange for his willingness to use his position as Minister of Mines and Geology to award the Chinese conglomerate “exclusive and highly valuable investment rights in a wide range of sectors of the Guinean economy, including near total control of Guinea’s valuable mining sector.”
In order to conceal the scheme, Thiam allegedly opened a bank account in Hong Kong and misreported his occupation to hide his status as a public official. Later, Thiam allegedly transferred millions of dollars in bribe money from the Hong Kong bank account to, among other things, bank accounts located in the United States, a Malaysian company that facilitated the purchase of real estate in the United States, private schools attended by Thiam’s children, and at least one other West African public official.
On December 12, 2016, the DOJ filed a sealed complaint charging Thiam with two counts of money laundering. Thiam was arrested the next day. As of December 2016, Thiam had yet to enter a plea.