A federal jury in a Brooklyn, NY, courtroom acquitted Lebanese executive Jean Boustani of charges related to an alleged money laundering scheme involving two European banks and the government of Mozambique.
Boustani, a sales executive employed by Privinvest, an established shipbuilder based in the Middle East, was acquitted of three counts of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and money laundering.
Boustani’s acquittal deflated U.S. prosecutors whose arguments were weakened by a string of witnesses denying any wrongdoing on the part of Mr. Boustani and Privinvest. Both Mr. Boustani and his employer, who was not charged in the case, have consistently denied any wrongdoing.
The jury found Mr. Boustani not guilty following the testimony of three former employees of Swiss bank Credit Suisse who had previously entered guilty pleas. Credit Suisse, along with VTB Bank in Russia. provided a series of loans totaling about $2 billion to state-related corporate entities in Mozambique, a country that has historically struggled with widespread corruption and poverty.
The loans were destined to fund maritime projects aimed at upping coastal security for the country’s resource-rich coast, as well as ships and related equipment to improve the tuna fishing industry in the East African nation.
In a statement released at the conclusion of the trial, Privinvest expressed relief over the acquittal and declared: “The jury’s verdict completely exonerates Mr Boustani and confirms what Privinvest has said for the past four years — there was absolutely no wrongdoing with respect to the Mozambique maritime projects.”
Michael Schachter, an attorney representing Mr Boustani, concluded, “We are gratified and relieved, and thank the jury for its service.”
Source: Financial Times US jury clears Privinvest salesman in ‘tuna bond’ trial