11 months after his arrest at John F. Kennedy International Airport this January, Privinvest Group salesman Jean Boustani was found not guilty of all counts against him – securities fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering on December 2.
The group of twelve jurors, serving in New York’s Eastern District, ultimately ruled that federal prosecutors located in Brooklyn had no jurisdiction to prosecute Boustani for supposed crimes that did not take place within their jurisdiction or even within the United States.
The prosecution argued that Boustani was a major player in a scheme to collect bribes and launder money in Mozambique in order to win business for Privinvest. They further argued that because the alleged illicit payments moved through Brooklyn-based bank accounts and Manhattan waterways, they had jurisdiction to prosecute – something the jurors ultimately did not agree with.
The prosecutors presented thousands of documents collected from the United States, Europe, and the Middle East, which included text messages, financial records, contracts, and files from Privinvest’s own servers. The prosecution argued that these documents showed a thorough accounting of bribes and the actual cost of the projects purchased by Mozambique-based companies. However, after seeing many of these documents, the jurors largely believed that Boustani’s work was a legitimate attempt to bring in business for Privinvest.
Privinvest delivered fishing and patrol boats to state-owned companies in Mozambique to create a fishing industry and protect the country’s coastline. The country took out loans through Swiss and Russian banks and ultimately defaulted on the debt, while three bankers pled guilty to taking bribes to facilitate the deal. However, Boustani was not connected with the financing of the project nor was Privinvest.
Boustani was the only person out of the eight individuals connected to the deal who has been put on trial. This group includes three former bankers for London-based Credit Suisse, as well as four others who are not in United States custody. After being acquitted of all crimes, Boustani hugged his attorneys and thanked the Federal Court, including U.S. District Judge William Kuntz, for their time, dedication, and what he and his attorneys believe is a fair, just judgment.
Boustani’s attorney Michael Schacter reiterated his belief in the fact that the United States is “not the world’s policeman,” and told press that he was gratified, relieved, and deeply appreciative of the verdict. Shacter also reiterated the fact that Boustani never communicated with investors and had no ties to the United States in any way.