Ex-prosecutor Ocampo 'undermines' International Criminal Court, leaked documents reveal

Former International Criminal Court or ICC prosecutor Luis Gabriel Moreno Ocampo, who came to Dhaka to monitor the progress of an alleged Padma Bridge corruption investigation, is now being accused of 'undermining the court'.

News Deskbdnews24.com
Published : 4 Oct 2017, 08:31 PM
Updated : 4 Oct 2017, 08:42 PM

Ocampo came to Dhaka in 2012 as the head of a World Bank delegation to assess the progress of an investigation into alleged corruption in the Padma Bridge project.

He has been making 'lots of money' by advising people, who risk being accused of war crimes, and by owning firms in offshore tax havens, leaked documents from a European agency have shown.

The Anti-Corruption Commission or ACC of Bangladesh launched an investigation when the World Bank brought allegations of corruption in the Padma Bridge project.

The World Bank sent a panel of three, headed by Ocampo, to review the steps taken by the ACC in the Padma Bridge investigation.

As recommended by the panel, the ACC filed a case implicating former Bridges Division secretary Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan and six other high-ranking government officials. Bhuiyan had to be in jail in the case.

A Canadian court found ‘no proof’ of bribery conspiracy in the project and acquitted in January three executives of charges that SNC-Lavalin Group Inc staff planned to bribe Bangladesh officials in the Padma Bridge project.

Earlier,  the World Bank had withdrawn the funds it had promised for the project, alleging that the Canadian company staff had planned to bribe Bangladesh officials in a bid to win a $50 million contract to supervise the Padma Bridge construction.

Ocampo and other members of the World Bank panel that came to Dhaka in 2012. File Photo

Leaked documents have now shown Ocampo works with a massive network of businessmen, stars, journalists, professors, lobbyists and foundations, taking their advice and risking the confidentiality of the ICC’s investigations.

This network benefits Ocampo’s career, public profile and bank balance, "but at the expense of the workings of the court, which after 15 years of existence, is yet to achieve major results", says European Investigative Collaborations or EIC in its investigative project - 'Court Secrets'.

It said further revelations would be exposed in the next week. French media site Mediapart obtained the leaked documents and shared those with the EIC.

Analysing the leaked documents, which include over 40,000 cross-checked documents, financial statements, diplomatic cables and correspondence, the EIC says Ocampo has been making "lots of money" since leaving the ICC as its prosecutor in 2012, according to a media website The Black Sea.

"The prosecutor must be a person 'of high moral character' says the ICC's Statute, but EIC documents reveal that while he was in office, Ocampo held offshore bank accounts and companies in tax havens. It opens the door to be suspicions about his morality and the court's integrity," The Black Sea said in an article on the 'Court Secrets'.

He has worked as counsel for NYC-based law firm Getnick & Getnick, a lecturer at Harvard, and set-up Moreno Ocampo, a consultancy agency with his brother that develops “tailored strategies to manage complex conflicts with transnational dimensions”.

While in ICC, his three key targets for the prosecution were Ugandan guerrilla leader Joseph Kony, Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir, both for genocide, and Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, for crimes against humanity.

Gaddafi was killed by Libyans in 2011, following a bloody civil war. Kony, known for his brutality and use of child soldiers, remains at large. Al-Bashir is still in power, after years of destructive conflict in Sudan.

Luis Gabriel Moreno Ocampo speaks at a press conference in Libya. File Photo. Reuters

Now among his clients is billionaire Libyan oil magnate and TV media owner Hassan Tatanaki, who publicly and privately supported a militia accused of war crimes and incitement to war crimes - members of which risk indictment by the ICC.

Tatanaki hired Ocampo in 2015 on a three-year contract worth a million dollars a year, plus a daily wage of 5,000 dollars, for helping him promote his ‘Justice First’ initiative, designed to bring “peace to Libya”.

Six days after the launch of Justice First, on May 12, 2015, Fatou Bensouda, Ocampo’s successor as ICC's chief prosecutor, briefed the United Nations Security Council that she was “concerned” about Libyan National Army attacking densely populated areas, causing high civilians deaths, and torturing prisoners.

As Tatanaki's "partners" like the Libyan National Army started to show their real faces, even using his media, Ocampo did not denounce Tatanaki, nor did he terminate the contract in protest.

Instead, Ocampo decided to protect his client against ICC prosecution, the leaked emails imply.

“I would suggest developing a comprehensive plan to ensure that Hassan and the forces he is supporting are not the targets of ICC prosecutions,” he wrote to an aide of Tatanaki.

The Black Sea article said, "Ex-prosecutor of human rights court Luis Moreno Ocampo held offshores while in this job and became a rich advisor for one faction in the Libyan conflict, undermining his warlord-busting former employer."

When interviewed by EIC partner Der Spiegel this week, Ocampo said he thought "working with Hassan Tatanaki was a good idea".

“He told me he was trying to fix Libya,” he said. “What he was proposing to me was absolutely not just legal, it was positive.”

Ocampo said he had warned his client against cooperating with General Haftar of the LNA.

Offshore companies

The leaked documents have shown that Ocampo, a 65-year old lawyer from Argentina, owns at least three companies at offshore tax havens.

Tain Bay Corporation is registered in Panama, Yemana Trading in the British Virgin Islands, and Transparent Markets in Uruguay.

His wife is behind Lucia Enterprises in Belize, another tax haven.

Ocampo denied evading any taxes.

“You can have offshore companies for legal and illegal reasons,” he said. “You can be a corrupt person to take money or bribes. Also, you can be an honest lawyer having money outside.”

The Black Sea wrote: "The chief prosecutor shall be a person of “high moral character”, says the statutes of the International Criminal Court. To avoid being vulnerable, the investigators must be squeaky clean."

"And Ocampo built up a reputation as an anti-corruption expert, as a prosecutor in Argentina, and as Latin American president of NGO Transparency International, a non-Government organisation dedicated to fighting financial secrecy and off-shore tax havens."

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher