June 30, 2015 / 8:32 PM / 5 years ago

U.S. seeks $34 million for Griffiths Energy bribe scheme of Chad diplomat

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is seeking to recover $34 million, the cash value of shares Griffiths Energy used to bribe Republic of Chad’s former ambassador to the United States and Canada, the Justice Department said on Tuesday.

The Canadian energy company pleaded guilty in court in Canada in 2013 to bribing Chad diplomat Mahamoud Adam Bechir, 50, the department said.

Bechir was Chad’s ambassador to the United States and Canada from 2004 until 2012. He is currently Chad’s ambassador to South Africa.

Reuters was not able to immediately reach the Chad government for comment.

The Justice Department is seeking to recover the funds from Bechir and others who accepted the bribes, which were paid to them by Griffiths Energy to influence the award of an oil contract in Chad in 2009.

The bribery scheme involved Griffiths Energy issuing 4 million shares to the wives of Bechir and Youssouf Hamid Takane, 52, who was the deputy chief of mission at the time, and also to an associate.

The company is also alleged to have paid $2 million in bribes to Bechir’s wife.

The money the Justice Department seeks to recover is currently held in a UK bank account.

Griffiths Energy changed its name to Caracal Energy Inc in 2013 and was bought by Glencore Plc in 2014.

Glencore spokesman Charles Watenphul said the litigation relates to events that took place prior to it buying the company.

“Glencore is not a party to these proceedings,” he said.

Reporting by Lindsay Dunsmuir; Editing by Bill Trott and Lisa Shumaker

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