Guinea's ex-minister of mines charged in bribe case; no bail

2016-12-14 11:44


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

New York - Guinea's ex-minister of mines gave away nearly total control of his country's valuable mining sector in exchange for $8.5m in bribes, enabling him to live lavishly in New York, authorities alleged after his arrest on Tuesday.

Mahmoud Thiam was held without bail after prosecutors told a judge he was hiding assets overseas and could utilise contacts abroad to easily flee.

Assistant US Attorney Elisha Kobre said Thiam reported only $30 000 in assets despite earning $1.2m annually. He said Thiam lied repeatedly to banks and the Internal Revenue Service.

A criminal complaint in Manhattan federal court charged Thiam, a US citizen, with surrendering most of Guinea's resources for mining iron ore, gold, diamonds and raw material for aluminum to a Chinese conglomerate from 2009 to 2011 in return for $8.5m in bribes.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R Caldwell said Thiam was accused of "enriching himself at the expense of the people of the Republic of Guinea".

'Quite ancient' 

"We cannot allow the United States to be a safe haven for the spoils of official corruption," Caldwell said.

Thiam, who's 50 years old, lives in Manhattan with his wife and three children and is no flight threat from an investigation he's known about for years, said his lawyer, Andrew Solomon.

Solomon called the charges "quite ancient" and said they would be tossed out. He urged US Magistrate Judge James C Francis IV to free his client.

The lawyer said most of Thiam's annual income paid off debts, including $24 000 in monthly housing costs.

"Mr Thiam is not leaving his wife, three children and two dogs based on a complaint that on its face is beyond the statute of limitations," Solomon said.

The complaint, charging Thiam with two counts carrying a potential penalty of up to 30 years in prison upon conviction, said Guinea is among Africa's poorest countries partly because of public corruption. It said Thiam covertly received bribes by opening a bank account in Hong Kong and misreporting his occupation to the Hong Kong bank to conceal that he was a public official.

Substantial powers 

Thiam then transferred some of his bribe proceeds from the account to a US bank account, a Malaysian company that facilitated and concealed the purchase of a $3.75m estate in Dutchess County, New York, private preparatory schools for Thiam's children and at least one other West African public official, the complaint said.

The complaint said Thiam, who also maintains a residence in Manhattan, was known in 2009 as Guinea's minister of mines, geology, energy and hydraulics before his title was changed a year later to minister of mines and geology.

It said he had substantial powers over mining in Guinea, including defining and directing government policy on mines, negotiating mining permits and granting permits and concessions to private entities seeking to conduct mining operations in the country.

The complaint said his power was magnified because Guinea then had a military dictatorship that needed money and sought investors seeking valuable mining concessions.

Read more on:    guinea  |  west africa

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24


6 myths about male cancer

It is important to be aware of the most prevalent cancer diseases amongst men in our country.


You won't want to miss...

Who are the highest paid models of 2017?
10 gorgeous plus-sized models who aren't Ashley Graham
5 top leg exercises for men
10 best dressed men of 2017
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.