It’s been a wacky market for sure, and to be honest with you, I haven’t seen a whole lot of activity that piques my interest in the dark pools. However, I’ll still be stalking these trading venues to see if there are any large block trades that hit the tape.
In the meantime, I’ve taken the liberty to expose some of the dirty players on Wall Street.
Today, I have a story that may grind your gears.
It involves a former Goldman Sachs executive who was caught playing puppet master to a bribery scheme.
To win a sweet government contract to build and operate a foreign power plant.
Asante K. Berko is a dual citizen of both the U.S. and Ghana.
Between July 2014 and December 2016 Berko was an executive at Goldman Sachs. His role at the U.K. branch was to assist with companies developing business in Africa.
The thing is, the way Berko was developing this particular business would become a massive problem… AND violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
From 2015 to 2016, Berko was involved in a bribery scheme that saw many government officials’ wallets stuffed.
A Turkish energy company, AKSA Enerji was trying to win a contract to build and run a power plant in the Republic of Ghana. Thereafter, they wanted to sell the power to the Ghanaian government.
The Bribery Scheme
Berko worked out a plan for the energy company to funnel millions to government officials. In other words, I think he was trying to buy the project’s approval.
He would do this by way of a company that would serve as a liaison. This way Ghana government officials would indirectly and get their bribe money in the shadows.
Berko created, set up, and carried out this bribery plan. Enerji put at least $2.5 million towards paying these bribes.
Timing for this scheme was also of the utmost importance.
Berko and Enerji timed the biggest transfers of funds to coincide with milestones in the project’s approval process. This way the funds would be available to shady government officials to help move the project forward.
Here’s the kicker, this wasn’t the only scheme in the works.
Berko also worked with the liaison company to pay small bribes to other government officials.
Two of these government officials were employees of the Ghana Ministry of Power.
I think not.
They would be the ones whispering confidential info to the liaison, as well as supplying information on the project… information from other government departments that examined the project. Additionally, information from engineers employed by the government evaluated the Turkish company’s tech.
In total, this duo received its own bribe of $210,000.
The Turkish company also wasn’t the only one handing out bribes.
Allegedly Berko contributed $66,000 himself.
Putting money in the greedy palms of different members of the Ghana Parliament and other officials to further the power plant’s approval.
How This Former Goldman Sachs Exec Tried To Hide His Shady Dealings
Berko tried to be careful and prevent Goldman Sachs from catching on.
First, emails for the bribery scheme went through his personal email only. The company was diligent. At any time, compliance personnel could review his work email for a number of reasons.
Second, Berko’s employer had a specific document on file. The document claimed Enerji had NOT compensated any liaison or political officials connected to the project. This critical document was never corrected.
But really what would Berko put down? “Bribes galore”?
After striving to keep this bribery scheme under wraps, Goldman Sachs required further due diligence on the project. This was action was taken to see if there were any possible reputational risks that could come with the power plant project.
Also, to look into other concerns as well.
It would be March 2016 when Berko’s scheme hit the fan.
Compliance personnel probably spit hot tea all over their screen when reviewing Berko’s emails… And discovered he WAS involved with the liaison to the company.
After interviewing Berko, the compliance department dove into the situation and was prepared to go over everything with a fine toothcomb.
From May to June 2016 executives from Enerji were questioned about this liaison’s role in the project. These executives handed out half-answers and false information. Not one executive told Goldman Sachs the truth.
When the heat got turned up, Enerji executives shut down, refusing to answer any more questions.
Which isn’t that an answer in itself?
As a result, in August 2016 the company ended its involvement in the Ghana power plant project.
Now get this….
From September 2016 to February 2017 the Enerji paid Berko…
Berko received $2 million for his help (in aiding in the bribery scheme).
During this time… December 7, 2016, to be exact Berko penned and handed over his resignation, which was finalized on March 6, 2017. However, he worked to get the power plant deal closed.
As irony would have it, he was hired on at the Tema Oil Refinery in Ghana. A job that he resigned from April 15, 2020, when he was charged with violating the Foreign Corrupt Practice Act. However, Berko still denies any wrongdoings.
Now, if you think shady dealings only go down in the private sector… think again. I believe there is shady activity going on in the markets, and that’s why I love to follow the dark pools.
There are seemingly well-timed trades that go down in these “private” trading venues, and if I can spot the right block trade, I think I’m in a position to profit.