US jails ex-Guinea minister over China bribes

2017-08-26 09:17


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

New York - A former Guinean cabinet minister was sentenced to seven years in a US prison on Friday and ordered to pay back $8.5m for laundering bribes from a Chinese conglomerate in exchange for mining rights.

Mahmoud Thiam, 50, learned his fate in a Manhattan federal courtroom from Judge Denise Cote, more than three months after he was convicted on May 3 of money laundering.

Thiam, who was minister of mines and geology in Guinea from 2009-10 and is a US citizen, had faced a maximum sentence of 15 years.

Arrested in December 2016, prosecutors say he took millions of dollars in bribes from senior representatives of the Chinese conglomerate to facilitate mining rights while serving as a cabinet minister.

Thiam was found to have concealed the bribes in a Hong Kong bank account before transferring the money to the United States, where he bought a lavish $3.75m estate in Dutchess County, New York and sent his children to private school.

Acting Manhattan US attorney Joon Kim accused the defendant of "enriching himself at the expense of one of Africa's poorest countries."

"Today's sentence shows that if you send your crime proceeds to New York, whether from drug dealing, tax evasion or international bribery, you may very well find yourself at the front end of a long federal prison term," Kim said.

China has become a key trade partner with many nations in Africa, where it is eager to tap into the continent's mineral and energy resources to help feed its fast-paced economic growth.

As far back as 2013, federal authorities in Manhattan began investigating far-reaching allegations of corruption in Guinea's resource sector involving financial transfers through the US or activity on US soil.

Friday's statement did not name the Chinese conglomerate involved but news reports have said Thiam was accused of dealing with a joint venture involving the China International Fund, a Hong Kong investment organization sometimes referred to as the 88 Queensway Group.

A former UBS banker, Thiam had worked as an asset manager in Manhattan after stepping down from as Guinea's mining minister.

Read more on:    us  |  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

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.