The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating banks, private equity firms and hedge funds that may have violated anti-bribery laws in their dealings with Libya's government-run investment fund, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
Federal investigators are examining Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N), Credit Suisse Group AG CSGN.VX, JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N), Societe Generale (SOGN.PA), private equity firm Blackstone Group (BX.N) and hedge fund Och-Ziff Capital Management Group LLC (OZM.N), the Journal said.
The DOJ is investigating investment deals made around the time of the financial crisis and afterward and whether the firms violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the paper said.
The Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) invested up to $1 billion in funds run by all the firms under scrutiny except Blackstone, according to a 2010 audit of the sovereign wealth fund by KPMG, the Journal said. (link.reuters.com/puq56v)
Investigators are also probing a group of middlemen, known as "fixers", operating in the Middle East, London and elsewhere, to look at their roles in arranging deals between financial firms and Libyan officials, the Journal said.
The DOJ, Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse and JPMorgan could not be immediately reached for comments by Reuters outside of regular U.S. business hours.
Last month, LIA filed a lawsuit against Goldman Sachs in London's High Court, seeking to cancel a series of equity derivatives trades between January and April 2008 and the repayment of premiums paid to the investment bank for its services.
(Reporting by Shubhankar Chakravorty in Bangalore; Editing by Supriya Kurane)