Jeffrey H. Knox, Chief, Fraud Section, Criminal Division
Elisha J. Kobre , Assistant United States Attorney
Tarek J. Helou, Trial Attorney, Fraud Section, Criminal Division
Richard C. Tarlowe, Chief, Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit
Patrick F. Stokes, Deputy Chief, Fraud Section, Criminal Division
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Department of Justice- Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs
Department of Justice, Office of Enforcement Operations
Type of Action:
DOJ Criminal Proceeding
Docket or Case Number:
S.D. New York
Origin of the Proceeding:
In 2005, a foreign mining conglomerate (the "Mining Company") sought the help of the wife of a high-ranking Guinean government official to obtain rights to mine iron ore in the Simandou region of Guinea (the "Simandou Concession"). The Simandou Concession was held by another company, and its projected worth was billions of dollars. Between 2007 and 2010, the official's wife signed contracts with the Mining Company and related companies. In those contracts, the Mining Company and others promised to pay the official's wife, and she promised to help the Mining Company obtain the Simandou Concession. The contracts stipulated that $2 million was to be transferred to the official’s wife’s company and an additional sum was to be “distributed among persons of good will who may have contributed to facilitating the granting of” the valuable mining rights. The mining company and its affiliates also agreed to give 5 percent of its ownership of particular mining areas in Guinea to the official’s wife.
In 2012, the Guinean government initiated an investigation into the alleged bribery scheme involving the Simandou Concession. The FBI followed suit in January 2013, and by March 2013, the official's wife was working as a cooperating witness. Through March and April 2013, the official's wife had several telephone calls and in person meetings with Frederic Cilins, who had some unmentioned connection with the Mining Company. In these calls and meetings and in other meetings going back over a year, Cilins attempted to get the official's wife to destroy documents that appeared to connect him and his associates with the bribery scheme, and also sought to induce the official's wife to sign an affidavit containing numerous false statements regarding matters under investigation.
On April 25, 2013, the DOJ filed a five count Indictment in the Southern District of New York against Cilins alleging witness tampering, obstruction of a criminal investigation, and destruction of documents. A Superseding Indictment filed on February 18, 2014, added an additional count of conspiracy to obstruct justice. On March 10, 2014, Cilins entered into a Plea Agreement with the DOJ. Under the terms of the agreement, Cilins agreed to plead guilty to a one count criminal information for obstructing a criminal investigation (a Superseding Information was filed concurrently). On July 29, 2014, the court sentenced Cilins to 24 months in prison to be followed by 3 years of supervised release and ordered Cilins to pay a fine of $75,000 plus a mandatory assessment of $100. In a separate judgment, Cilins forfeited $20,000 already in FBI custody.
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