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  • International Financial Institution Sanctions Two French Companies for Corruption in Developing Countries

    Financial Crimes

    An international financial institution recently sanctioned two French companies for separate allegations of corruption in developing countries. On November 30, the financial institution announced that a French digital security company, was debarred for 2.5 years for “corrupt and collusive practices” related to a project that would establish a national ID system in Bangladesh. As part of its Negotiated Resolution Agreement (NRA), the company acknowledged “improper payments to a sub-contractor and collusive misconduct to obtain and modify bid specifications to narrow competition and secure the award of the contract.” The company was credited for its “extensive cooperation” with the financial institution’s investigation, including voluntarily acknowledging the misconduct, proactively conducting an internal investigation, holding individuals accountable, and taking “preliminary steps to improve its governance and compliance procedures.”

    On December 5, the financial institution separately announced that a French manufacturing company, was debarred for two years for a “corrupt practice” related to a project that would improve electricity infrastructure in the Congo. The financial institution's investigation found evidence that the company “made improper payments to an employee of a consulting company to influence a tender process.” Under the NRA, the manufacturing company’s parent company was also “conditionally non-debarred” for an 18-month probationary period. The holding company for the entities agreed to pay €6.8 million to the Congo, and the companies agreed to develop and implement a “group-wide integrity compliance program.” The holding company was credited for its “ongoing cooperation” with the financial institution's investigators, “acceptance of responsibility,” and “voluntary corrective and remedial actions.”

    Financial Crimes Sanctions Anti-Corruption

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  • Court Reduces Sentence for Former Cayman Islands Soccer Executive Who Pleaded Guilty in International Soccer Association Investigation

    Financial Crimes

    On December 12, Judge Chen of the U.S. District Court for the E.D.N.Y. amended the recent sentence entered against a former general secretary of a Cayman Islands football association. On October 31, he was sentenced to serve 15 months in prison, pay $3 million in restitution, and observe a ban from international soccer organizations. Under the amended sentence, he was credited 10 months for time served in a Swiss jail prior to extradition; the other terms remained the same. 

    He was arrested in Zurich in 2015, as part of the U.S. government’s investigation into corruption involving an international soccer association. Earlier this year, he pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge, admitting that he laundered millions of dollars in bribes from sports marketing companies to his longtime associate and the former president of a continental soccer association. He is the second individual sentenced among a group of more than 40 who have been indicted or pleaded guilty since 2015. Previous FCPA Scorecard coverage of the investigation can be found here.

    Financial Crimes Anti-Money Laundering Bribery

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  • OFAC Issues License and Guidance on Amended Ukrainian/Russian Sanctions

    Financial Crimes

    On November 28, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) released General License 1B to address amendments made to Directives 1 and 2 (Directives) of its Ukrainian/Russian-related Sectoral Sanctions. The amendments were made in accordance with the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act of 2017 (CAATSA). (See previous InfoBytes coverage on Directives here.) The Directives prohibit U.S. persons from dealings in certain equity and debt of persons determined by OFAC to be part of the Russian financial and energy sectors. According to a Treasury press release, General License 1B addresses the decrease in the maturity dates of debt transactions prohibited by Directive 1 from 30 days to 14 days, and the decrease in the maturity dates of debt transactions prohibited by Directive 2 from 90 days to 60 days. General License 1B authorizes transactions by U.S. persons, wherever located, and transactions within the United States that involve derivative products whose value is linked to an underlying asset that constitutes prohibited debt issued by person subject to Directives 1, 2 or 3 of the Sectoral Sanctions, including those issued on or after November 28 that have the reduced maturity dates targeted by CAATSA. OFAC also released updated FAQs to answer questions related to the Ukrainian-/Russian-related amended directives. 

    Financial Crimes OFAC Sanctions Department of Treasury CAATSA

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  • OFAC Penalizes Dental Supply Company for Violations of the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations

    Financial Crimes

    The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) announced that it entered into a $1.2 million settlement with a U.S. dental supply company for alleged violations of the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (ITSR). According to the December 6 announcement, between November 2009 and July 2012, two of the company’s subsidiaries exported 37 shipments of dental supplies to distributors in other countries with “knowledge or reason to know that the goods were ultimately destined for Iran.” OFAC determined that the alleged violations were non-egregious.

    In determining the settlement amount, OFAC considered multiple factors, including that (i) the subsidiaries acted willfully in violation of the ITSR because employees concealed their knowledge that the goods were destined for Iran; (ii) subsidiary supervisory personnel actively concealed their awareness of the apparent violations from their U.S. parent company; and (iii) the U.S. company is “commercially sophisticated” with knowledge of OFAC’s regulations. OFAC also considered numerous mitigating factors, including (i) the fact that the U.S. company has not received a penalty from OFAC in the previous five years; (ii) the harm to the ITSR program was limited; and (iii) the U.S. company cooperated with the investigation and took remedial steps. 

    Financial Crimes OFAC Sanctions Settlement Department of Treasury

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  • FinCEN Launches New Exchange to Enhance Information Sharing

    Financial Crimes

    On December 4, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) announced the release of the “FinCEN Exchange” program, which establishes regular briefings between FinCEN, law enforcement, and financial institutions to share high-priority information regarding potential national security threats and illicit financial transactions. Although private sector participation in the program is voluntary, FinCEN encourages involvement because the briefings may help financial institutions better identify risks and incorporate appropriate information into Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs). In addition, FinCen’s receipt of information will support its efforts to combat financial crimes, including money laundering.

    The CDD Rule became effective on July 11, 2016, and member firms must comply by May 11, 2018. FINRA advises members firms to consult the CDD Rule, along with FinCEN's related FAQs, to ensure AML program compliance.

    Financial Crimes FinCEN SARs Anti-Money Laundering

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  • Dutch Oilfield Company Agrees to Pay DOJ $238 Million; Two Former Executives Charged by UK SFO

    Financial Crimes

    On November 29, a Dutch oilfield company entered into a three year deferred prosecution agreement with the DOJ to settle allegations that the company paid bribes to secure contracts in various countries around the world. Under the agreement, the company agreed to pay a total of $238 million, including a $500,000 criminal fine and forfeiture of $13.2 million. The next day, the UK Serious Fraud Office announced that two former company executives had been charged with conspiracy to make corrupt payments in connection with government contracts in Iraq between 2005 and 2011. 

    Earlier this month, two different former executives pleaded guilty in US federal court to paying bribes to government officials in Brazil, Angola, and Equatorial Guinea. Click here for FCPA Scorecard’s prior coverage of these guilty pleas. The company has been involved in a sprawling bribery investigation involving enforcement officials in the United States, the UK, Brazil and the Netherlands. The DOJ closed its investigation in 2014 before reopening it in February of 2016. Click here to view previous FCPA Scorecard coverage of the company's investigation.

    The company’s deferred prosecution agreement states that the company did not receive voluntary disclosure credit even though it voluntarily disclosed the conduct to the DOJ, because the disclosure was untimely as it took place “approximately one year” after the company learned of the information. It also states that the company received full cooperation credit because it conducted a “thorough internal investigation, [made] regular factual presentations” to the DOJ, “voluntarily [made] foreign-based employees available for interviews in the United States, [produced] documents to the United States from foreign countries” and expedited parts of the internal investigation. The deferred prosecution agreement goes on to detail the remedial measures that the company has taken to improve its compliance function, which included hiring a third party to design and implement a new compliance program, reduce the number of third party agents engaged by the company, and terminate relationships with questionable third parties. It goes on to explain that all of these factors weighed in the DOJ’s decision not to seek a guilty plea by the company. This information provides insight into the DOJ’s expectations for receiving disclosure and compliance credit.

    Financial Crimes DOJ UK Serious Fraud Office

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

    Financial Crimes

    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. 

    Financial Crimes DOJ FCPA Pilot Program FCPA

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  • OFAC Expands North Korean Sanctions

    Financial Crimes

    On November 21, the day after President Trump placed North Korea back on the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) imposed additional sanctions in an action to “disrupt North Korea’s illicit funding of its unlawful nuclear and ballistic missile programs.” The sanctions were issued against one individual, 13 entities, and 20 vessels pursuant to Executive Order 13810 and Executive Order 13722. The sanctioned entities have commercial ties to North Korea or operate transportation networks in the country, and the sanctioned individuals are “involved in the exportation of workers from North Korea, including exportation to generate revenue for the Government of North Korea.” All property held by the sanctioned individuals and entities within U.S. jurisdiction was frozen, and transactions between the sanctioned individuals and entities and Americans are also “generally prohibited.” 

    See here for previous InfoBytes coverage on North Korean sanctions.

    Financial Crimes OFAC Sanctions International

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  • FinCEN Issues $8 Million Penalty to California Club Card for Willful Violation of Anti-Money Laundering Controls

    Financial Crimes

    On November 17, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) announced that it had assessed an $8 million civil money penalty against a California card club company for “willfully violating” the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) from 2009 to 2017. According to FinCEN, the company failed to establish and maintain an operational anti-money laundering program and failed to detect and timely report many suspicious transactions. FinCEN asserts that during the eight-year period, the company failed to file any Suspicious Activity Reports regarding loan sharking and other criminal activities being conducted through the company that were the subject of a 2011 state and federal law enforcement raid. Additionally, the company allegedly failed to implement sufficient internal controls to monitor risks associated with gaming practices that allowed customers to co-mingle and pool bets with anonymity.

    The penalty assessment does not reflect consent by the company, and the company may elect to contest the penalty by not paying within the allotted time period.

    Financial Crimes FinCEN Anti-Money Laundering Enforcement SARs

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  • OFAC Penalizes Credit Card Issuer for Violations of Cuban Assets Control Regulations

    Financial Crimes

    On November 17, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced that it had reached a $204,277 settlement with a U.S. financial institution for alleged violations of the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR). The settlement involves actions taken by an international credit card company which, at the time of the apparent violations, was a wholly owned subsidiary of an entity that was itself 50 percent owned by the U.S. financial institution. According to the announcement, between 2009 and 2014, credit cards that the company issued to over 100 corporate customers were used to make purchases in Cuba or otherwise involved Cuba. OFAC asserts that the company failed to implement controls to prevent this even though it had policies and procedures in place to review transactions for compliance with CACR.

    In determining the settlement amount, OFAC considered that (i) employees within the company had reason to know of the conduct that led to the alleged violations; (ii) none of the entities involved appeared to appreciate the risk that the credit cards might be used in Cuba; (iii) at the time they occurred, the actions resulted in harm to the US sanctions program objectives; (iv) the U.S. financial institution is a large and sophisticated financial entity; and (v) during the investigation, the entities provided “verifiably inaccurate or incomplete, including material omissions.” OFAC also considered the fact that the entities voluntarily self-disclosed the alleged violations and the U.S. financial institution took “swift and appropriate remedial action” upon discovery.

    OFAC recently announced updates to CACR, covered by InfoBytes here.

    Financial Crimes OFAC Department of Treasury Enforcement Settlement Credit Cards

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