October 29, 2019

Belgian dredging company under investigation for bribery in Russia

Authorities in Belgium are investigating whether senior personnel at the Belgian dredging company NV Dredging Environmental and Marine Engineering (DEME) engaged in bid-rigging and bribery in obtaining a public contract to conduct dredging in the Russian port of Sabetta.  According to Belgian authorities, DEME, acting through its agent, Sofia Mirtcheva-Neirynck, allegedly paid bribes beginning in 2013 to win a lucrative dredging contract for Sabetta and used a series of shell companies to launder the bribe money.  In connection with this investigation, Belgian authorities uncovered evidence that email accounts hosted with Oath Holdings, Inc., a U.S. electronic service provider, were used by DEME, Mirtcheva-Neirynck, and related parties to communicate regarding the dredging project and subsequent payments to Mirtcheva-Neirynck and a Russian government official.  Pursuant to the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty between Belgium and the US, in December 2018 the US government executed a search warrant for information contained in these email accounts.  This warrant was unsealed on October 4, 2019.
There is no indication that US authorities are investigating this conduct, but DEME confirmed in its 2018 annual report that the Belgian investigation is ongoing.