Mauritania charges official with corruption, issues warrant

AP News
|
Posted: Feb 19, 2016 2:07 PM

NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania (AP) — A Mauritanian court on Friday charged Mauritania's Interior Ministry secretary-general with corruption, misappropriation of state property and breach of trust. It also issued an international arrest warrant for the chairman of a British company already convicted in the U.K. for involvement in the bribery scandal.

The judge ordered the charges against Mohamed El Hadi Macina, who was arrested Feb. 12. Macina, who has been jailed and will face trial, is suspected of corruption from 2006 to 2014 when he was responsible for working on election ballots provided by the British company Smith and Ouzman.

Mauritanian judge Mohamed Fall Ould Moujtaba of the Economic and Finance Tribunal also issued an international arrest warrant for British businessman Christopher Smith for money laundering and bribery. Smith was the chairman of Smith and Ouzman.

The UK Serious Fraud Office said in December 2014 that the company and two employees were convicted of making corrupt payments totaling 395,000 pounds ($543,000) to public officials for business contracts in Kenya and Mauritania. The company specializes in security documents such as ballot papers.

On Feb. 12, 2015 Smith was handed an 18-month suspended prison sentence for two counts of corruptly agreeing to make payments, the UK office said. His son, Nicholas Charles Smith, who was the sales and marketing director for the British firm, was sentenced to three years in prison, the office said.