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  • Criminal Charges Unsealed Against Former Och-Ziff Executive

    The DOJ recently unsealed criminal charges against former hedge fund executive Michael Cohen. This indictment follows a civil suit filed in January 2017 against Cohen and others by the SEC regarding FCPA violations. In 2016, the DOJ and SEC also pursued a joint FCPA enforcement action against Cohen’s former employer, Och-Ziff Capital Management Group, alleging various bribes, self-dealing, and other malfeasance relating to the procurement of mineral, oil, and other natural resource contracts in African counties.

    While the SEC’s initial January 2017 civil matter against Cohen alleged FCPA violations, the recently announced criminal indictment does not directly charge him with violating the FCPA.  Cohen is alleged to have obstructed the DOJ and SEC’s investigations of Och-Ziff and made false statements, but also to have committed investment advisor fraud.

    DOJ SEC FCPA

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  • Judge Denies Bail to Former Hong Kong Official, Who Pleads Not Guilty to Alleged African Bribery

    Patrick Ho, a former Hong Kong official, reportedly entered a not guilty plea and was denied bail in federal district court in New York related to a number of FCPA, conspiracy, and money laundering counts. Ho was charged in late 2017, along with his co-defendant Cheikh Gadio, the former Foreign Minister of Senegal, with offering $2 million in bribes to the President of Chad. Ho is also alleged to have paid a half-million dollar bribe to the foreign affairs minister of Uganda. The DOJ alleges that Ho sought to direct bribe money through an NGO that he ran, which is funded by a Chinese-based oil and gas company.

    FCPA Anti-Money Laundering

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  • DOJ Unseals 11-Count FCPA Indictment Against Maryland Executive

    In an indictment unsealed on January 5, the DOJ charged a former executive of a Maryland company, Mark Lambert, with 11 criminal counts, including seven counts of violating the FCPA and one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA. The allegations relate to an alleged scheme to bribe Vadim Mikerin, an official at TENEX, a Maryland-based Russian energy company that is a subsidiary of Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation, as well as the sole supplier and exporter of Russian Federation uranium  and uranium enrichment services. Lambert alleged sought to improperly obtain awards of nuclear transportation contracts from TENEX to his company. Several other key players in the case already have pleaded guilty, including Lambert’s former business associate as well as Mikerin. Although sentencing for a number of the parties is forthcoming, Mikerin already has been ordered to forfeit $2.1 million following his guilty plea.  The initial investigation began in 2007 as part of a joint DOE-OIG and FBI probe into Mikerin for laundering the funds derived from the scheme into offshore accounts.

    DOJ FCPA Russia

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  • Real estate broker and nephew of former UN Secretary-General pleads guilty to FCPA charges

    On January 5, 2018, the Department of Justice announced that Joo Hyun Bahn, also known as Dennis Bahn, pleaded guilty to charges that he tried to bribe a Qatari official in connection with a sale of a high rise building complex in Vietnam. He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and one count of violating the FCPA before U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos of the Southern District of New York. Mr. Bahn was charged with his father Ban Ki Sang, who was an executive at the South Korean construction company Keangnam, and Malcolm Harris, an arts and fashion blogger, in December 2016. Mr. Bahn is the nephew of former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

    In his guilty plea, Mr. Bahn admitted to joining a conspiracy to make $2.5 million in bribe payments to a Qatari official between February 2014 and May 2015 in an effort to sell the Keangnam-owned Hanoi Landmark Tower and residential buildings in Vietnam, which were worth $800 million. Mr. Bahn admitted that he and Mr. Ban agreed to pay $500,000 to a Qatari official to persuade the official to use the Qatari sovereign wealth fund to purchase the building. The $500,000 was then transferred to Mr. Harris, who posed as an agent for the foreign official, but instead of passing the payment to the foreign official, Mr. Harris double-crossed his codefendants and stole the $500,000. 

    Although the scheme involved a South Korean construction company and a Qatari foreign official, the Indictment alleged that Mr. Bahn qualified as a “domestic concern” pursuant to 15 USC 78dd-2(h)(1) because he was a lawful permanent resident of the United States and resided in New Jersey at the time. 

    Mr. Bahn faces up to five years in prison on each count. Mr. Harris previously pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud and money laundering for his role in the scheme, and was sentenced to 42 months in prison. Mr. Ban has been charged, but not yet arrested.

    DOJ FCPA Bribery Qatari Vietnam

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  • Keppel Agrees to $422 Million Penalty to Resolve Foreign Bribery Case

    On December 22, 2017, Singapore-based shipyard operator and shipping vessel repair company Keppel Offshore & Marine Ltd. (KOM), and its wholly owned U.S. subsidiary, agreed to pay a combined total penalty of $422 million to resolve foreign bribery charges by the DOJ. Authorities in the United States, Brazil, and Singapore alleged that the companies engaged in a decade-long scheme to pay tens of millions of dollars in bribes to officials in Brazil, including those of state-owned oil company Petrobras. As part of the resolution, KOM entered into a deferred prosecution agreement while its U.S. subsidiary, KOM USA, pleaded guilty, as did a former senior member of KOM’s legal department. The settlement is one of the largest FCPA enforcement penalties and also represents DOJ’s first coordinated FCPA resolution with Singapore. The settlement represents a 25 percent reduction off the bottom of the applicable U.S. Sentencing Guidelines fine range due to substantial cooperation by the companies with the investigation and the taking of remedial measures, including disciplining employees and implementing an enhanced compliance system. 

    FCPA Enforcement Action DOJ Bribery Keppel Petrobras United States Brazil Singapore FCPA

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  • Former Embraer Executive Pleads Guilty to Saudi Arabian Bribery

    A former sales executive of Brazilian-based aircraft manufacturer Embraer S.A. pleaded guilty on December 21 in connection with a scheme to pay bribes to a Saudi Arabian government official. Colin Steven, a U.K. resident living in the United Arab Emirates, pleaded guilty to a count each of violating the FCPA, conspiracy to violate the FCPA, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering, conspiracy to launder money, and making a false statement. As part of his plea, he admitted that he engaged in a scheme to have Embraer pay bribes to a foreign official in exchange for assistance in getting an aircraft sales contract. Steven also admitted getting a kickback as part of the scheme and lying to law enforcement officials about the kickback.

    Embraer previously paid $205 million to the DOJ and SEC in October 2016 to resolve related FCPA violations in Saudi Arabia, Mozambique, and the Dominican Republic. 

    DOJ International FCPA Anti-Money Laundering

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  • Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein Announces Expansion of FCPA Pilot Program

    On November 29, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein issued remarks announcing that the DOJ’s FCPA Pilot Program will be made permanent and expanded to provide greater incentives for more companies to voluntarily disclose potential FCPA violations. The new program will be formally incorporated into the US Attorney’s Manual. These changes will include greater potential benefits offered to companies that promptly disclose suspected FCPA violations.

    Rosenstein identified three components of what will be called the “FCPA Corporate Enforcement Policy.” First, companies who voluntarily disclose, fully cooperate with the DOJ’s investigation, and undertake “timely and appropriate remediation” will be entitled to a presumption that the matter will be resolved through a declination, which “may be overcome only if there are aggravating circumstances related to the nature and seriousness of the offense, or if the offender is a criminal recidivist.” Second, if the company satisfies all other requirements but there are “aggravating circumstances,” the DOJ “will recommend a 50% reduction off the low end of the Sentencing Guidelines fine range,” although “criminal recidivists may not be eligible for such credit.” And third, the policy will provide details on how the DOJ “evaluates an appropriate compliance program, which will vary depending on the size and resources of a business.”

    The Pilot Program began in April 2016. It was greeted with some skepticism that the benefits of disclosure would outweigh the potential benefits, as Rosenstein noted in his remarks. Click here to view previous FCPA Scorecard coverage of the Pilot Program. 

    DOJ FCPA Pilot Program FCPA

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  • DOJ Charges Head of Organization Backed by Chinese Energy Conglomerate and Former Foreign Minister of Senegal with Bribing High-Level Officials in Chad and Uganda

    On November 20, the DOJ unsealed a criminal complaint charging Ching Ping Patrick Ho and Cheikh Gadio (collectively, the “Defendants”) with participating in a multi-year, multimillion-dollar scheme to bribe high-level officials in Chad and Uganda in exchange for business advantages for a Shanghai-based energy conglomerate (the “Energy Company”). Mr. Ho is the head of a non-governmental organization based in Hong Kong and Virginia that holds “Special Consultative Status” with the United Nations Economic and Social Council. The Energy NGO is funded by the Energy Company. Mr. Gadio is the former Foreign Minister of Senegal and operated an international consulting firm. The DOJ charged Mr. Ho and Mr. Gadio with (i) conspiring to violate the FCPA, (ii) violating the FCPA, (iii) conspiring to commit international money laundering, and (iv) committing international money laundering. The Defendants have both been arrested and presented before Magistrates. 

    The DOJ alleges that the Defendants conspired to bribe African government officials on behalf of the Energy Company. Specifically, the DOJ alleges that in an effort to secure oil rights from the Chadian government, the Defendants offered a $2 million bribe to the President of Chad – and in return, the Defendants secured exclusive oil rights without competition. The Defendants allegedly wired almost a million dollars through New York’s banking system in furtherance of their scheme. Mr. Ho also allegedly provided Ugandan officials with gifts and promises to share profits derived from the Energy Company.

    DOJ Bribery FCPA

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  • Wal-Mart Sets Aside $283 Million for Potential Resolution of FCPA Allegations

    On Thursday, November 16, 2017, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (“Wal-Mart”) disclosed in an SEC filing that it has set aside $283 million for a potential resolution with DOJ and SEC of alleged FCPA violations. The investigation into possible FCPA violations in Mexico was first disclosed in Wal-Mart’s December 2011 SEC filing and, in subsequent filings, Wal-Mart stated that the allegations had been expanded to include possible violations in Brazil, China, and India, among others.

    In its November 16 filing, Wal-Mart reiterated that it has been cooperating with the DOJ and SEC in their investigations, and the discussions with these government agencies has progressed such that Wal-Mart can reasonably estimate a probable loss of $283 million, although it noted that the company cannot assure that its efforts to resolve these matters will ultimately succeed as anticipated.

    Click here for FCPA Scorecard’s prior coverage of this matter.

    SEC DOJ FCPA Wal-Mart

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  • Charles Cain Named New SEC FCPA Chief

    After serving as Acting Chief of the SEC’s Enforcement Division’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Unit for more than six months, SEC veteran Charles Cain will now officially take on the position of head of the FCPA Unit. According to an SEC press release, Cain intends “to build[] upon the important work the unit has done to combat corruption and level the playing field globally.” The SEC named Cain to the Acting Chief role in April 2017 after his predecessor, Kara Brockmeyer, left the agency

    After graduating with honors from The George Washington University Law School, Cain spent two years in the private sector before joining the SEC in 1999. In addition to serving as Deputy Chief of the FCPA Unit since 2011, Cain co-authored A Resource Guide to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, an effort for which he received the Irving M. Pollack Award.

    SEC FCPA

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