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  • DOJ Unveils New Guidelines on Corporate Compliance Programs

    The DOJ’s Fraud Section recently published an “Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs.”  The guidelines were released on February 8 without a formal announcement.  Their stated purpose is to provide a list of “some important topics and sample questions that the Fraud Section has frequently found relevant in evaluating a corporate compliance program.”  The guidelines are divided into 11 broad topics that include dozens of questions.  The topics are:

    1. Analysis and Remediation of Underlying Conduct
    2. Senior and Middle Management
    3. Autonomy and Resources
    4. Policies and Procedures
    5. Risk Assessment
    6. Training and Communications
    7. Confidential Reporting and Investigation
    8. Incentives and Disciplinary Measures
    9. Continuous Improvement, Periodic Testing and Review
    10. Third Party Management
    11. Mergers & Acquisitions

    According to the Fraud Section, many of the topics also appear in, among other sources, the United States Attorney’s Manual, United States Sentencing Guidelines, and FCPA Resource Guide published in November 2012 by the DOJ and SEC.  While the content of the guidelines is not particularly groundbreaking, it is nonetheless noteworthy as the first formal guidance issued by the Fraud Section under the Trump administration and new Attorney General Jeff Sessions.  By consolidating in one source and making transparent at least some of the factors that the Fraud Section considers when weighing the adequacy of a compliance program, the guidelines are a useful tool for companies and their compliance officers to understand how the Fraud Section and others at the DOJ may proceed in the coming months and years. 

    However, while the guidelines may give some indication of what the DOJ views as a best practices compliance program, they caution that the Fraud Section “does not use any rigid formula to assess the effectiveness of corporate compliance programs,” recognizes that “each company’s risk profile and solutions to reduce its risks warrant particularized evaluation,” and makes “an individualized determination in each case.”

    DOJ SEC Corporate Compliance Program

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  • DOJ Declines FCPA Action Against Cobalt International Energy

    Houston-based Cobalt International Energy, Inc. announced in a February 9, 2017 press release that the DOJ had formally closed its FCPA investigation into Cobalt’s oil exploration operations in Angola and would not prosecute the Company.  The press release noted that the DOJ’s investigation “was the last remaining FCPA investigation by any U.S. regulatory agency into Cobalt’s Angolan operations.”  The DOJ’s declination letter came more than two years after the SEC closed its own FCPA investigation and declined to bring an enforcement action.

    As detailed in a previous FCPA Scorecard post, the parallel investigations began in 2011, and were prompted by allegations concerning the connection between senior Angolan government officials and Nazaki Oil and Gáz, S.A., the local partner in a Cobalt-led deepwater oil venture.  According to Cobalt’s 10-K filing for FY 2012, the Company had voluntarily contacted the DOJ when the SEC launched its initial inquiry and “offered to respond to any requests the DOJ may have.”

    DOJ SEC Cobalt International Energy Angola

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  • Fired Bio-Rad General Counsel Wins $10.9 Million in FCPA Whistleblower-Retaliation Case

    On February 6, 2017, a federal jury in San Francisco awarded the former general counsel of Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. $10.9 million in a landmark FCPA whistleblower-retaliation case brought under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), the Dodd-Frank Act, and California state law.  After three hours of deliberation, the jury found that Sanford Wadler, Bio-Rad’s general counsel of nearly 25 years, was fired for reporting suspected FCPA violations to Bio-Rad’s audit committee in February 2013, a protected activity under SOX’s anti-retaliation provisions.  Although Wadler did not report his concerns to the SEC, the court held in 2015 that internal whistleblowing under SOX was also protected by the Dodd-Frank Act’s anti-retaliation provisions, opening the door to Dodd-Frank’s double back-pay remedy.  Bio-Rad’s last-minute motion to block purported attorney-client privileged information from trial –“virtually all of the evidence and testimony Plaintiff might rely upon to prove his case” – was denied by the court in December 2016.

    The jury ultimately awarded Wadler $2.96 million in back-pay – to be doubled under Dodd-Frank – plus $5 million in punitive damages.  As detailed in a previous FCPA Scorecard post, Bio-Rad paid $55 million in November 2014 to settle DOJ and SEC allegations that the Company violated the FCPA in Russia, Thailand, and Vietnam.  Wadler’s report to the audit committee had involved separate allegations that the Company violated the FCPA in China.

    DOJ SEC Whistleblower Bio-Rad SOX Dodd-Frank

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  • Medical Device Company Reaches Second FCPA Settlement in the Span of Five Years

    On January 18, Texas-based medical device company Orthofix International N.V. (Orthofix) admitted wrongdoing and agreed to pay approximately $6 million to the SEC to settle FCPA books and records and internal controls charges in connection with improper payments made by its Brazilian subsidiary to doctors through third parties. In related non-FCPA proceedings, Orthofix also agreed to pay a $8.25 million penalty to resolve various accounting violations, and former executives Jeff HammelKenneth MackBryan McMillan, and Brian McCollum each consented to accounting-related SEC orders without admitting or denying the findings.

    According to the Administrative Order Instituting Cease-and-Desist Proceedings, Orthofix’s Brazilian subsidiary Orthofix do Brasil LTDA employed third-party commercial representatives and distributors to make improper payments to doctors employed at government-owned hospitals to induce them to use Orthofix’s products, thereby increasing sales.  Orthofix also improperly recorded revenue, leading to the related accounting charges.

    In settling with the SEC, Orthofix has now resolved two separate FCPA cases in the span of five years.  In 2012, Orthofix resolved FCPA actions with both the SEC and DOJ in connection with bribes paid to Mexican officials by its Mexican subsidiary.  Given the prior corruption and internal controls issues, the SEC found that Orthofix failed to devise and maintain a system of internal accounting controls sufficient to provide reasonable assurances to detect and prevent such payments.  Orthofix agreed to hire a compliance consultant for one year.

    DOJ SEC Brazil Orthofix FCPA SEC DOJ

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  • Medical Device Company Reaches Second FCPA Settlement in the Span of Five Years

    On January 18, Texas-based medical device company Orthofix International N.V. (Orthofix) admitted wrongdoing and agreed to pay approximately $6 million to the SEC to settle FCPA books and records and internal controls charges in connection with improper payments made by its Brazilian subsidiary to doctors through third parties. In related non-FCPA proceedings, Orthofix also agreed to pay a $8.25 million penalty to resolve various accounting violations, and former executives Jeff HammelKenneth MackBryan McMillan, and Brian McCollum each consented to accounting-related SEC orders without admitting or denying the findings.

    According to the Administrative Order Instituting Cease-and-Desist Proceedings, Orthofix’s Brazilian subsidiary Orthofix do Brasil LTDA employed third-party commercial representatives and distributors to make improper payments to doctors employed at government-owned hospitals to induce them to use Orthofix’s products, thereby increasing sales.  Orthofix also improperly recorded revenue, leading to the related accounting charges.

    In settling with the SEC, Orthofix has now resolved two separate FCPA cases in the span of five years.  In 2012, Orthofix resolved FCPA actions with both the SEC and DOJ in connection with bribes paid to Mexican officials by its Mexican subsidiary.  Given the prior corruption and internal controls issues, the SEC found that Orthofix failed to devise and maintain a system of internal accounting controls sufficient to provide reasonable assurances to detect and prevent such payments.  Orthofix agreed to hire a compliance consultant for one year.

    DOJ SEC Brazil Orthofix FCPA SEC DOJ

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  • Four Individuals, Including Ban Ki-moon’s Brother and Nephew, Face FCPA Charges Related to Vietnam Project

    On January 10, the DOJ announced the unsealing of an indictment charging four individuals, including the nephew and brother of former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, with violations of the FCPA and other offenses in connection with the attempted $800 million sale of a commercial building known as Landmark 72 in Hanoi, Vietnam. According to the government, Ban Ki Sang and Joo Hyun Bahn conspired to bribe a governmental official of an unnamed Middle Eastern country to get his country to purchase the building from Keangnam Enterprises Co., where Ban was then a senior executive. To facilitate the sale of Landmark 72, Keangnam hired Ban’s son Bahn to secure an investor for the deal.

    According to the allegations, Bahn and Ban agreed to pay the foreign official $500,000 initially, and $2 million upon completion of the sale, through co-defendant Malcolm Harris, who had falsely held himself out as an agent of the foreign official; Harris Sang Woo allegedly assisted in obtaining the initial $500,000. In a twist, according to the DOJ, Harris then stole the money and used it for personal expenses instead of paying any bribes. After the Landmark 72 deal failed to go through, Bahn allegedly lied and provided forged emails from the foreign official and other documents to Keangnam regarding the status of the deal and stole approximately $225,000 that was advanced by Keangnam to cover brokerage expenses.

    DOJ Bribery FCPA DOJ UN Keangnam Enterprises Co.

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  • Four Individuals, Including Ban Ki-moon’s Brother and Nephew, Face FCPA Charges Related to Vietnam Project

    On January 10, the DOJ announced the unsealing of an indictment charging four individuals, including the nephew and brother of former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, with violations of the FCPA and other offenses in connection with the attempted $800 million sale of a commercial building known as Landmark 72 in Hanoi, Vietnam. According to the government, Ban Ki Sang and Joo Hyun Bahn conspired to bribe a governmental official of an unnamed Middle Eastern country to get his country to purchase the building from Keangnam Enterprises Co., where Ban was then a senior executive. To facilitate the sale of Landmark 72, Keangnam hired Ban’s son Bahn to secure an investor for the deal.

    According to the allegations, Bahn and Ban agreed to pay the foreign official $500,000 initially, and $2 million upon completion of the sale, through co-defendant Malcolm Harris, who had falsely held himself out as an agent of the foreign official; Harris Sang Woo allegedly assisted in obtaining the initial $500,000. In a twist, according to the DOJ, Harris then stole the money and used it for personal expenses instead of paying any bribes. After the Landmark 72 deal failed to go through, Bahn allegedly lied and provided forged emails from the foreign official and other documents to Keangnam regarding the status of the deal and stole approximately $225,000 that was advanced by Keangnam to cover brokerage expenses.

    DOJ Bribery FCPA DOJ UN Keangnam Enterprises Co.

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  • Four Businessmen and Two Mexican Government Officials Plead Guilty in Aircraft Maintenance Bribery Scheme

    On December 27, the DOJ announced the unsealing of charges against four businessman and two Mexican officials involved in a scheme to secure aircraft maintenance and repair contracts with Mexican government-owned companies. Douglas Ray, Victor Hugo Valdez Pinon, Kamta Ramnarine, and Daniel Perez all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the FCPA, with Ray and Valdez Pinon separately pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Additionally, Ernesto Hernandez Montemayor and Ramiro Ascencio Nevarez, both former officials with Mexican state-owned companies, each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

    According to the DOJ, the defendants admitted that between 2006 and 2016, millions of dollars were paid to numerous Mexican government officials to secure aircraft parts and servicing contracts with Mexican government-owned companies. The defendants also admitted to laundering the proceeds of the bribery scheme. In total, Ray, Valdez Pinon, Ramnarine, and Perez paid more than $2 million in bribes to Mexican officials, including Hernandez Montemayor and Nevarez.

    Navarez was sentenced in May to 15 months in prison; the remaining defendants have yet to be sentenced.

    DOJ FCPA Fraud Anti-Money Laundering

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  • Odebrecht and Braskem Reach $3.5 Billion Global FCPA Settlement

    On December 21, Brazilian construction company Odebrecht S.A. and its petrochemical affiliate, Braskem S.A., reached a $3.5 billion combined global settlement with U.S., Brazilian, and Swiss authorities to resolve FCPA allegations, in which both companies agreed to plead guilty in the U.S. to conspiracy to violate the FCPA. The DOJ alleged that the companies operated an extremely broad and profitable global bribery scheme, including creating an internal bribery department to systematically pay hundreds of millions of dollars to corrupt government officials around the world from 2001 to 2016. The companies attempted to conceal the bribes by disguising the source and disbursement of bribe payments by passing funds through a series of shell companies and by using off-shore bank accounts.  While the scheme in large part involved bribes paid to Petrobras and Brazilian officials, it also included government officials in numerous other South and Central American countries, and in Africa.

    Odebrecht agreed to an overall criminal fine of $4.5 billion, but based on its representation of its ability to pay, may end up paying only $2.6 billion. Ten percent of the criminal fine was earmarked for the U.S., with the remainder to Brazil (80%) and Switzerland (10%).  The DOJ faulted Odebrecht for failing to voluntarily disclose the conduct, but granted full cooperation credit based on Odebrecht’s actions once it started to deal with the government.  As part of its own related resolution, Braskem agreed to pay over $632 million in criminal fines, with the vast majority ($443 million) going to Brazil, and 15%, or $94.8 million, to each of the DOJ and Switzerland.  Braskem also agreed to disgorge $325 million, with $65 million going to the SEC and the rest to Brazil.  The DOJ noted Braskem’s failure to voluntarily disclose the conduct, and granted only partial cooperation credit due to Braskem’s failure to turn over any evidence from its internal investigation until seven months after it first talked to the DOJ.  Both Odebrecht and Braskem agreed to engage independent compliance monitors for at least three years

    The resolution is, by far, the largest FCPA resolution ever, with the bulk of the money going to Brazil in apparent recognition of the heavy lifting done by Brazilian prosecutors.

    Prior Scorecard coverage of the ongoing Petrobras investigations can be found here.

    DOJ Petrobras FCPA SEC Odebrecht Braskem SA

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  • Teva Pharmaceuticals Settles FCPA Violations With SEC and DOJ for $519 Million

    On December 22, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. announced an agreement with the SEC and DOJ to resolve FCPA violations stemming from conduct in Ukraine, Mexico, and Russia, with a $519 million settlement and a deferred prosecution agreement. Teva will pay more than $236 million in disgorgement and interest to the SEC, the second largest FCPA-related corporate disgorgement to date. As part of its agreement with the DOJ, Teva will pay a $283 million criminal fine and enter into a three-year deferred prosecution agreement under the supervision of an independent compliance monitor.

    Prior Scorecard coverage of the Teva investigation can be found here.

    DOJ SEC Score Card Teva Pharmaceuticals FCPA SEC DOJ

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