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  • Aruban telecom official pleads guilty to money laundering conspiracy involving FCPA violations

    Egbert Yvan Ferdinand Koolman, an official of Servicio di Telecommunicacion di Aruba N.V. (Setar), pleaded guilty to money laundering charges in connection with a scheme to arrange and receive corrupt payments to influence the awarding of contracts in Aruba.  The DOJ’s press release describes Setar as an Aruban state-owned company.  According to his plea agreement, Koolman, a Dutch citizen living in Florida, operated a money laundering conspiracy between 2005 and 2016 in his position as Setar’s product manager.   Lawrence W. Parker, Jr., who owned several Florida-based telecommunications companies, previously pleaded guilty to paying bribes to Koolman and Koolman’s wife.

    Koolman admitted that he conspired with Parker and others to transmit funds from Florida and elsewhere in the United States to Aruba and Panama with the intent to promote a wire fraud scheme and a corrupt scheme that violated the FCPA.  Koolman was promised and received bribes from individuals and companies located in the United States and abroad in exchange for using his position at Setar to award lucrative mobile phone and accessory contracts.  Koolman also admitted to providing favored vendors with confidential Setar information in exchange for the more than $1.3 million in corrupt payments.

    Setar filed a civil complaint against Koolman and other parties on March 3 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, which contains a few points of note.  First, Setar describes itself in the complaint as a privatized company, whereas the DOJ’s press release called it an instrumentality of the Aruban government.  Second, the complaint states that Setar became aware of some of Koolman’s alleged activities via the Panama Papers, the 2016 leak of over 11 million documents from Panamanian law firm and financial services provider Mossack Fonseca.

    DOJ FCPA Anti-Money Laundering

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  • Former media executive pleads guilty to bribing UN official

    Julia Vivi Wang, a Chinese-born naturalized U.S. citizen, reportedly pleaded guilty this week to violations of the FCPA related to a scheme to bribe the UN General Assembly’s former president John Ashe. Wang is a former executive of a media group that focused on promoting UN development goals, but she was accused of paying the bribe to secure diplomatic postings. She pleaded guilty this week in the SDNY to three counts, including violating and conspiring to violate the FCPA, as well as income tax fraud. 

    The charges relate to Wang’s payment of $500,000 to Ashe in April 2013 in exchange for receiving a diplomatic posting within the government of Antigua, where Ashe previously served as a UN representative. Wang is just the most recent in a line of other individuals who have faced FCPA repercussions for bribes paid to Ashe (who died in 2016), including Ng Lap Seng, who was found guilty of paying Ashe and another individual bribes worth at least $1 million, and Shiwei (Sheri) Yan who also pleaded guilty to paying Ashe bribes in excess of $800,000. As part of her plea, Wang admitted that she had failed to report approximately $2 million in income to the IRS.

    This guilty plea illustrates how prosecutors are able to unwind even complex bribery schemes by methodically targeting individual participants. The criminal charges against Wang were likely bolstered by the string of preceding bribery cases involving similar payments to Ashe that likewise resulted in a guilty pleas and verdicts.

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  • Second executive pleads guilty to FCPA violations in Siemens case involving bribes in Argentina

    On March 15, Eberhard Reichert, a former executive of a Siemens AG subsidiary, pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, including conspiracy to commit bribery, falsify corporate books and records, circumvent internal controls, and commit wire fraud. According to the DOJ press release, Reichert “admitted that he and his co-conspirators concealed the illicit payments through various means, including using shell companies associated with intermediaries to disguise and launder the funds.” Reichert was indicted with seven others in 2011.

    Reichert was part of a decade-long scheme during which Siemens paid tens of millions of dollars in bribes to Argentine government officials to secure a contract to create national identity cards. A Siemens subsidiary was awarded a contract worth more than $1 billion to provide the ID cards in 1998. The Argentine government ended the project in 2001. Since then, Siemens and its employees have faced prosecutions and enforcement actions around the world as a result of the bribes and related conduct. Siemens pleaded guilty in the U.S. to violating the books and records provisions of the FCPA in 2008 for its conduct, and subsidiaries in Argentina and other countries pleaded guilty to similar crimes.  Siemens also paid $350 million to resolve an SEC case and paid a fine of $800 million to resolve charges brought by the Munich Public Prosecutor’s Office.

    Prior FCPA Scorecard coverage of the case can be found here, here, here, and here.

    DOJ FCPA Bribery

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  • Maryland-based Transport Logistics International Inc. enters deferred prosecution agreement for violations of FCPA antibribery provisions

    On March 13, a Maryland federal court unsealed bribery-related charges filed in January 2018 against Transport Logistics International, Inc. (“TLI”), a Maryland-based company which is part of France’s Daher Group, as well as a three-year deferred prosecution agreement filed on March 12. The government alleges that TLI conspired to violate the FCPA by arranging and paying bribes to Russian officials to obtain uranium transportation contracts between 2004 and 2014. Pursuant to the deferred prosecution agreement, TLI agreed to pay a $2 million criminal fine, adopt a compliance program, and provide periodic reporting to DOJ. According to the agreement, TLI received credit for its substantial cooperation with the investigation and for its remedial actions, including firing all employees involved in the criminal conduct.

    As we covered here, in 2015 three individuals entered into guilty pleas in this matter: Vadim Mikerin, a former Russian official based in Maryland; Daren Condrey, a former co-president of TLI; and Boris Rubizhevsky, an alleged intermediary between TLI and Mikerin. Most recently and as covered here, Mark Lambert, the other former co-president of TLI, was charged in an 11-count indictment, unsealed in January 2018, alleging numerous violations of the FCPA and conspiracy to violate the FCPA.

    DOJ FCPA Bribery

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  • Israeli real estate conglomerate to pay $500,000 to resolve SEC allegations of FCPA books and records and internal controls violations

    On March 9, an Israeli-based real estate conglomerate agreed with the SEC, pursuant to an administrative order, to pay $500,000 to resolve alleged violations of FCPA books and records and internal controls provisions. According to the order, the SEC found that from 2007 through 2012, Elbit Imaging Ltd (“Elbit” or the “Company”) and its Netherlands-based subsidiary, Plaza Centers NV, paid millions of dollars to third party consultants and agents for purported services related to a Romanian real estate project and the sale of a real estate asset portfolio in the United States. The SEC found that these payments were made with no indication that any services were actually provided.

    Elbit did not admit or deny the SEC’s findings, but agreed to resolve this matter with a civil money penalty. In accepting Elbit’s offer for resolution, the SEC took into consideration Elbit’s self-reporting in 2016 to authorities in Romania and in the United States, as well as its full cooperation with the investigation, including the hiring of outside counsel to conduct an internal investigation, the findings of which were shared with the SEC. The SEC also considered the extensive remedial measures Elbit has put into place as a result of those findings and the Commission’s suggestions.

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  • Several companies report developments in FCPA investigations

    In the second half of February, at least three unrelated companies have publicly disclosed the existence and/or status of various FCPA investigations in forms filed with the SEC:

    • Teradata Corporation: On February 23, data analytics company Teradata disclosed that the DOJ and SEC have both declined to pursue FCPA enforcement actions in connection with a subsidiary’s “questionable expenditures for travel, gifts and other expenses” in Turkey. As the Dayton, Ohio-based company previously disclosed on August 4, 2017, Teradata initiated an internal investigation after discovering the questionable expenditures, self-reported the issues to the DOJ and SEC, cooperated with the agencies, and undertook certain remedial actions.
       
    • Fresenius Medical Care AG & Co. KGaA: On February 27, dialysis provider Fresenius Medical Care disclosed that the DOJ and SEC are investigating potential FCPA violations related to “certain conduct in the company’s products business in a number of countries,” and that it has reserved €200 million for a potential settlement with the agencies. After receiving “certain communications alleging conduct in countries outside the U.S. that might violate the FCPA or other anti-bribery laws” in 2012, the Bad Homburg, Germany-based company conducted an internal investigation, self-reported the issues to the DOJ and SEC, cooperated with the agencies, and undertook certain remedial actions.
       
    • Exterran Corporation: On February 28, energy company Exterran disclosed that the DOJ and SEC have both declined to pursue FCPA enforcement actions in connection with “self-reported [accounting] errors and possible irregularities” at an Italian subsidiary conducting business in the Middle East. In April 2016, Houston-based Exterran previously disclosed that it was restating its 2015 financial statements and conducting an internal investigation related to the accounting issues. Although “the SEC’s investigation related to the circumstances giving rise to the restatement is continuing,” the FCPA piece of the investigation has concluded.

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  • Sanofi announces DOJ declination in FCPA investigation

    As previously covered, French pharmaceutical company Sanofi S.A. announced in October 2014 that it was investigating whether certain payments made by company employees to healthcare professionals in the Middle East and Africa violated the FCPA. Sanofi launched an investigation to review payments made from 2007 to 2012 as a result of anonymous whistleblower allegations, and self-reported the allegations to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). On March 7, 2018,  Sanofi announced in its Form 20-F SEC filing that the DOJ notified Sanofi in February 2018 that it was closing the inquiry into the self-reported whistleblower allegations. Sanofi is continuing to cooperate with the SEC’s review of the allegations.

    DOJ SEC FCPA Whistleblower

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  • DOJ concludes FCPA investigation into Juniper Networks

    California-based Juniper Networks, Inc. announced in a February 9 8K filing that the DOJ has concluded its investigation into possible FCPA violations without taking action against the company. The company disclosed the FCPA investigation by the DOJ and the SEC in August 2013, but has not publicly disclosed any further details about the possible FCPA violations. Juniper’s recent filing stated that the DOJ’s letter acknowledged the company’s “cooperation in the investigation.” The filing also noted that the FCPA investigation by the SEC is still pending. 

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  • DOJ unseals charges against former Venezuelan government officials for money laundering and FCPA violations in Petroleos scheme

    On February 12, the DOJ unsealed charges against five former Venezuelan government officials for their involvement in a money laundering scheme at Venezuela’s state-owned energy company Petroleos de Venezuela (Petroleos). The five defendants—Luis Carlos De Leon Perez (De Leon), Nervis Gerardo Villalobos Cardenas (Villalobos), Cesar David Rincon Godoy (Cesar Rincon), Alejandro Isturiz-Chiesa, and Rafael Ernesto Reiter Munozare (Reiter)—are each charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering. De Leon and Villalobos are also charged with conspiracy to violate the FCPA. 

    De Leon, Villalobos, Cesar Rincon, and Reiter were arrested in Spain in October 2017 on arrest warrants based on an indictment filed in the Southern District of Texas last August. Cesar Rincon has been extradited from Spain, while the others are pending extradition. 

    The indictment alleges that the five defendants possessed significant influence within Petroleos, which permitted them to solicit PDVSA vendors for “bribes and kickbacks in exchange for providing assistance to those vendors in connection with their PDVSA business.” The Petroleos vendors included residents of the U.S. and vendors who owned U.S.-based businesses. According to the indictment, two Petroleos vendors, Roberto Enrique Rincon Fernandez and Jose Shiera-Bastidas, transferred more than $27 million to accounts in Switzerland that were connected to De Leon and Villalobos. Rincon and Shiera previously pleaded guilty in the Southern District of Texas to FCPA charges related to the bribery of Petroleos officials. 

    The charges are part of an ongoing investigation by the DOJ and ICE-HSI into bribery at Petroleos, which has resulted in charges against fifteen individuals, ten of whom have pleaded guilty. Previous FCPA Scorecard coverage of the Petroleos investigation can be found here.

    Score Card Bribery FCPA Petroleos de Venezuela DOJ Anti-Money Laundering Financial Crimes

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  • GSK responding to inquiries from SFO, DOJ, and SEC regarding its use of third party advisors in China

    In a securities filing on Wednesday, Feb. 7, U.K.-based pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline PLC (“GSK”) announced that it is responding to requests for information from the DOJ and SEC regarding third-party advisors that GSK engaged in China. These requests came about after GSK, pursuant to its continuing obligation to report to the SEC on its efforts to improve compliance following its September 2016 settlement of allegations that it violated the FCPA, informed the SEC and DOJ that the SFO had sought additional information in the course of its own investigation, which began in May 2014. GSK was also investigated by Chinese authorities and, in September 2014, GSK’s Chinese subsidiary was reportedly found guilty of bribery resulting in GSK’s payment of a $491.5 million fine. 

    Previous FCPA Scorecard coverage here and here.

    DOJ SEC FCPA SFO Bribery

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