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2 former Och-Ziff executives face SEC charges for bribery scheme

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2 former Och-Ziff executives face SEC charges for bribery scheme

The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged two former Och-Ziff Capital Management Group LLC executives of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and directing bribes to influence government officials in several African countries.

Michael Cohen, who led Och-Ziff's European office, and Vanja Baros, an investment executive who worked on deals in Africa, were behind "tens of millions of dollars" in bribes paid to the officials, the SEC said. The bribes were intended to secure mining deals in the countries to benefit Och-Ziff.

The company has undergone a long, public investigation into its business operations in Africa that culminated in late 2016, when settlements with the SEC and Department of Justice were reached. Payments under those settlements totaled $412.1 million. Civil charges related to that SEC investigation involved CEO Daniel Och and former CFO Joel Frank.

Following those announcements, credit rating agencies including Fitch Ratings and S&P Global Ratings put the company on Rating Watch Negative and CreditWatch, respectively, citing the reputational damage the scandal could cause.