TND West

James Giffen and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

In the 1990s, according to the Justice Department, American businessman James Giffen had the title of counselor to the president of Kazakhstan. His job was to help with “priority investment projects relating to the exploration, development, production, transportation, and processing of oil and gas.” That made him hugely important in Kazakhstan and far beyond.  The last of the republics declaring their independence of the Soviet Union was Kazakhstan, this occurred in 1991.

The gas and oil reserves were abundant and, due to Kazakhstan’s independence,  these resources were now on the market for energy companies in the United States.  Four American companies acquired deals with the government between the years of 1996 and 1998, Texaco, Amaco, Phillips Petroleum and Mobil Oil.

In 2003, Giffen was indicted by the United States grand jury in the state of New York, for breaking the laws of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.  He was charged crimes that would include bribery, conspiracies that were intended to violate the laws of the FCPA, wire and mail fraud, failure in disclosing the bank accounts in foreign countries, and conspiracy to and participating in money laundering.  A list crimes that would send him to prison for eighty years.

Six years later he still has not gone to trial.  It seems that the oil and the gas interests in Kazakhstan may be too important to risk the implications.  Further investigation reveals that he had the full support of the U.S. government.

Much of the evidence surrounding his case is classified. Giffen is charged with 62 accounts of criminal indictment, however most of the information regarding his case is now top secret.  The details of the case are even hidden from Giffen, off limits to even himself.  This is a modern case of ‘who dunit’ and will continue throughout the months, perhaps the years ahead.

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