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Press Release

French Citizen Sentenced In Manhattan Federal Court To 24 Months In Prison For Obstructing A Criminal Investigation Of Alleged Bribes Paid To Secure Mining Rights In Guinea

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Leslie R. Caldwell, the Assistant Attorney General for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, and George Venizelos, the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced that FREDERIC CILINS, a French citizen, was sentenced today to 24 months in prison for obstructing a federal criminal investigation of alleged bribes paid to secure valuable mining rights in the Republic of Guinea. CILINS pled guilty to one count of obstructing a criminal investigation in March 2014 before U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley, III, who also imposed today’s sentence.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Frederic Cilins went to great lengths to thwart a Manhattan federal grand jury’s investigation into an alleged bribery scheme in the Republic of Guinea. In an effort to prevent the federal authorities from learning the truth, Cilins paid a witness for her silence and to destroy key documents. Today, Cilins learned that no one can manipulate justice.”

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell said: “Cilins offered to bribe a witness in an FCPA investigation to stop the witness from talking to the FBI. Today’s sentence holds Cilins accountable for his effort to undermine the integrity of our justice system, and sends a message that those who interfere with federal investigations will be prosecuted and sent to prison.”

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge George Venizelos: “Cilins obstructed the efforts of the FBI during the course of this investigation. His guilty plea and sentence demonstrate our shared commitment with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to hold accountable those who seek to interfere with the administration of justice. This case should be a reminder to all those who try to circumvent the efforts of a law enforcement investigation: the original crime and the cover-up both lend themselves to prosecution.”

According to the superseding information and other documents filed in Manhattan federal court, as well as statements made at today’s sentencing proceeding and at CILINS’s guilty plea:

CILINS endeavored to obstruct an investigation being conducted by a federal grand jury sitting in the Southern District of New York into potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) and money laundering. The investigation related to allegations that a mining company with which CILINS was affiliated paid bribes to officials of a former governmental regime of the Republic of Guinea to win valuable mining concessions in the Simandou region of Guinea. During monitored and recorded phone calls and face-to-face meetings, CILINS agreed to pay substantial sums of money to induce a witness to, among other things, destroy and turn over to CILINS for destruction documents related to the bribery allegations. CILINS did so knowing that those documents were being sought by the FBI and were to be produced before a federal grand jury. He also sought to induce the witness to sign an affidavit containing false statements regarding matters under investigation by the grand jury, and tried to get the witness to leave the United States to avoid being questioned by the FBI about these allegations.

In addition to the prison sentence, CILINS, 51, a resident of France, was ordered to pay a fine of $75,000 and to forfeit $20,000.

Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding efforts of FBI in the investigation, which he noted is ongoing. He also thanked the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs and Office of Enforcement Operations for their assistance in the investigation.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Elisha J. Kobre and Trial Attorney Tarek Helou of the Fraud Section of the Criminal Division are in charge of the prosecution.

Updated May 13, 2015

Press Release Number: 14-210