Public Citizen warns State about oversight of Och-Ziff at Mount Sunapee

Today the national watchdog group Public Citizen warned the State of New Hampshire about the failures of deferred prosecution agreements in regards to Och-Ziff, the new leaseholder at Mount Sunapee State Park.

Download/view the Public Citizen letter here: PCochziff (pdf 66kb)

The Department of Justice secured a criminal plea by Och-Ziff for violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in September 2016. “Central to the criminal plea by Och-Ziff, the company entered into a three-year Deferred Prosecution Agreement,” according to Tyson Slocum of Public Citizen.

Public Citizen asserts that Deferred Prosecution Agreements “have proved to be inadequate enforcement and oversight mechanisms” and have not held corporate criminals appropriately accountable.

The letter to Commissioner Jeffrey Rose of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (DNCR) comes one day before a state-sponsored “public information session” about the ski area lease, Och-Ziff, and future of Mount Sunapee. The meeting to address public concerns will be on Tuesday, August 22 at 6 pm at Mount Sunapee State Park in Newbury.

“The State of New Hampshire should not rely solely on the terms of the DOJ Deferred Prosecution Agreement as a primary instrument to ensure that Och-Ziff is a reputable steward of public resources,” wrote Slocum. “Rather it would be prudent for the State of New Hampshire to insist on additional measures to ensure that a corporate felon is an adequate custodian of the lease.”

In June 2017, the DNCR commissioner and N.H. attorney general revealed that Och-Ziff, a New York-based hedge fund, was the new leaseholder at Mount Sunapee. According to N.H. registry filings, Och-Ziff took over the ski area lease April 6, 2017.

In September 2016, the U.S. Dept. of Justice and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sanctioned Och-Ziff under the provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, resulting in civil and criminal fines totaling $412 million.

At the time, Public Citizen reported, “Och-Ziff engaged in a massive bribery scheme in numerous African countries, over a period of years, with the direct involvement of high-level officials. It did not self-disclose its illegal activities and was slow to cooperate fully in the early stages of the government’s investigation.”

An enforcement officer for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission stated, “Och-Ziff engaged in complicated, far-reaching schemes to get special access and secure significant deals and profits through corruption,” according to the New York Times (October 2016).

The ski area lease at Mount Sunapee State Park takes in approximately 1,135 acres (public land) in Newbury and Goshen, which includes ancient forest, exemplary natural communities, public hiking trails and recreational facilities and infrastructure. DNCR is the state agency responsible for managing N.H. state parks.

Copyright 2017 Friends of Mount Sunapee