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  • International police organization chief detained in China on bribery allegations

    Financial Crimes

    In late September, the chief of an international police organization at the time and a former vice minister of China’s national police, reportedly went missing during a trip home to China. According to his wife, his last known communication was a text message to her containing a knife emoji and an instruction to “wait for my call.” According to reports, after his wife, French authorities, and the organization issued public pleas, Chinese authorities disclosed this week that he has been detained pursuant to a government investigation into bribery and other allegations. He abruptly resigned his post at the organization and has not been available for comment.

    His detention is notable due to his international stature as the organization's chief, however, he is just the latest in a string of high-ranking Chinese officials to reportedly have been swept up in widespread graft investigations by the Governing Communist Party under President Xi Jingping. A release from the Ministry of Public Security reportedly claims that his arrest demonstrates that “there is no privilege and no exception before the law.” It goes on to state: “Anyone who violates the law must be severely punished. We must resolutely uphold the authority and dignity of the law, bearing in mind that the red line of the law cannot be overstepped. . . It is necessary to make the legal system a ‘high-voltage line’ of electricity.”

    Financial Crimes Bribery

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  • Oil services company CEO and executive sentenced to prison for conspiracy to bribe foreign officials

    Financial Crimes

    On September 28, the DOJ announced that a former CEO and a former executive of an oil services company had been sentenced to prison and fined for their roles in a scheme to bribe foreign government officials in Brazil, Angola, and Equatorial Guinea in exchange for oil-services contracts. In November 2017, the former CEO of the company and a former sales and marketing executive at the company each had pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA. The former CEO was sentenced to 36 months in prison and a fine of $150,000 for authorizing payments in furtherance of the bribery scheme, and the former executive was sentenced to 30 months in prison and a fine of $50,000 for using a third-party sales agent to pay bribes to Brazil officials.

    The company itself entered into a $238 million three-year deferred prosecution agreement and its subsidiary pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA.

    Prior Scorecard coverage of the company can be found here.

    Financial Crimes Bribery FCPA DOJ

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  • Class certification granted to hedge fund investors

    Financial Crimes

    On September 14, a New York federal district court granted class certification to a group of shareholder investors suing an American hedge fund management firm and two of its senior executives on the grounds that the investors were misled about a government investigation into the company’s activities in Africa. In finding that the proposed class met all the requirements for certification, the court certified a class of investors that held some of the more than 100 million outstanding shares between February 2012 and August 2014, the time period in which the firm allegedly violated the Securities Exchange Act. Plaintiffs claim that the firm told investors it was not under any pending judicial or administrative proceeding that might have a material impact on the firm, when in fact it was under DOJ and SEC investigation over allegations that its employees were bribing government officials in Africa. The allegations against the firm were made public in 2014 media reports detailing government scrutiny into its dealings in Africa.

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

    Financial Crimes DOJ SEC Securities Exchange Act Bribery

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  • Real estate broker and nephew of former UN Secretary-General sentenced for trying to bribe a foreign official

    Financial Crimes

    On September 6, U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos of the Southern District of New York reportedly sentenced a real estate broker to six months in prison for trying to pay $2.5 million in bribes to a Qatari official in connection with a sale of a high rise building complex in Vietnam. The New York Times reported that Judge Ramos stated that he believed the broker deserved a lenient sentence. Law360 reported that Judge Ramos cited, among other factors, the consequences of a longer sentence on the broker’s immigration status. The sentence was ultimately far below what the government had requested.

    As FCPA Scorecard previously reported, the broker pleaded guilty in January 2018 to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and one count of violating the FCPA. He is a nephew of a former UN Secretary-General.

    Additionally, on September 6, the SEC announced that the broker had agreed to pay $225,000 in disgorgement to settle civil FCPA violations arising from his conduct. The SEC’s order concluded that he violated the anti-bribery and books and records provisions of the FCPA.

    See previous FCPA Scorecard coverage here.

    Financial Crimes FCPA Bribery

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  • 2nd Circuit rules that FCPA does not reach foreign individuals without their own ties to U.S.

    Financial Crimes

    On August 24, the 2nd Circuit rejected the government’s argument for a broad interpretation of personal jurisdiction in FCPA cases, ruling that a non-resident foreign national lacking sufficient ties to a U.S. entity cannot be charged with conspiracy to violate the FCPA or with aiding and abetting an FCPA violation. The three-judge panel upheld the lower court’s finding that a British national and former French multinational rail transportation company executive (defendant-appellee), could not be charged with conspiring or aiding and abetting something he could not be directly charged with because he was “not an agent, employee, officer, director or shareholder of an American issuer or domestic concern” within the scope of the FCPA’s jurisdictional provision and had not himself taken actions insider the U.S. 

    The defendant-appellee was an employee of the French company’s UK subsidiary and worked for a French subsidiary. The government alleged that he was “one of the people responsible for approving the selection of, and authorizing payments to,” consultants used by the French company’s U.S. subsidiary to bribe Indonesian officials related to a power contract. The government alleged numerous U.S. acts in furtherance of the bribery (including e-mails and calls by the defendant-appellee to the U.S.), although the defendant-appellee himself never traveled to the U.S. during the scheme. The defendant-appellee was one of four executives charged in 2013 in connection with the bribes; the other three executives—all of whom worked for the U.S.-based subsidiary—a power generation equipment manufacturer (which entered into a deferred prosecution agreement)—entered guilty pleas. The company pleaded guilty in December 2014 and paid a fine of $772 million.

    The charges against the defendant-appellee included a FCPA conspiracy count as well as substantive FCPA bribery violations and related money laundering charges. The District Court granted the defendant-appellee’s motion to dismiss part of the conspiracy count, ruling that if he was not alleged in that count to be a covered person under the FCPA, then the government could not impose accomplice liability either. Similarly, where the government had not alleged that the defendant-appellee ever traveled to the U.S. during the bribery scheme, then he could not be accused of conspiring to violate the provision proscribing acts by foreign nationals taken within the U.S. The District Court allowed the count to move forward where it separately alleged that the defendant-appellee was also an agent of the U.S. subsidiary, which would bring him within the FCPA’s defined reach.

    The 2nd Circuit agreed with the District Court that if the defendant-appellee was not an agent of the French company’s U.S. subsidiary (something the court assumed for the purpose of the appeal only), and therefore himself covered under the FCPA, then he could not be charged with conspiracy or complicity liability. The court relied primarily on the idea that Congress enacted an “affirmative legislative policy” in the FCPA that was intended to punish some categories of defendants, taking into account considerations of extraterritoriality, while intentionally omitting others. Secondarily, the court also held that there was no “‘clearly expressed congressional intent to’ allow conspiracy and complicity liability to broaden the extraterritorial reach of the statute.” The court summed up its ruling as requiring that the government demonstrate that the defendant-appellee “falls within [a category enumerated in the FCPA] or acted illegally on American soil.”

    The court did reverse the District Court’s second ruling that unless the defendant-appellee traveled to the U.S. during the bribery scheme, he could not be charged with conspiring to violate the FCPA provision covering acts by foreign nationals within the U.S. The government had indicated that it still intended, at trial on the other counts, to prove that he was an agent of the U.S. subsidiary, thereby bringing him back within the categories explicitly covered by the FCPA. (The substantive FCPA counts remaining did allege that the defendant-appellee was acting as an agent).

    See previous FCPA Scorecard coverage here, here, and here.

    Financial Crimes DOJ International Bribery FCPA

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  • Barbadian insurance company receives first declination with disgorgement under FCPA corporate enforcement policy

    Financial Crimes

    On August 23, a Barbadian insurance company received the first declination with disgorgement from the DOJ under the FCPA Corporate Enforcement Policy, which was made effective in November 2017. The conduct at issue involved payments made by the company to a Barbadian official in exchange for insurance contracts. The DOJ stated that the official, who is a U.S. legal permanent resident, laundered the payments through a New York-based company owned by a friend of the official. The declination was offered in consideration of numerous factors, including the company’s timely and voluntary disclosure of the conduct, its thorough internal investigation and cooperation with the DOJ’s investigation, its agreement to disgorge $93,900 in profits, and its efforts to enhance compliance and to remediate the matter by terminating all involved in the misconduct.

    Financial Crimes DOJ Bribery FCPA Disgorgement

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  • Another executive arrested in Venezuelan energy company bribery case

    Financial Crimes

    On August 1, DOJ announced the arrest of a dual U.S.-Venezuelan citizen on foreign bribery charges for making and conspiring to make corrupt payments to an official of a Venezuela’s state-owned energy company. He was arrested at Miami International Airport on an arrest warrant based on a criminal complaint in the Southern District of Texas, which was unsealed on July 31. He made an initial appearance before a magistrate judge in the Southern District of Florida.

    According to the criminal complaint, the citizen and a co-conspirator paid at least $629,000 in bribes to a former company official in exchange for favorable business treatment for his companies, including: (1) directing company contracts to his companies, (2) giving his companies priority over other vendors to receive payments, and (3) awarding his companies contracts in U.S. dollars rather than Venezuelan bolivars.

    DOJ has announced charges against 17 individuals, including the citizen, as part of its investigation into bribery at the company. 12 individuals have pleaded guilty.

    Financial Crimes DOJ FCPA Bribery

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  • Latest conviction in Venezuelan oil company bribery case

    Financial Crimes

    On July 16, 2018, a dual U.S.-Venezuelan citizen pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. The citizen’s convictions relate to allegations that he bribed officials at Venezuela’s state-owned oil company and laundered money for bribes to other company employees. FCPA Scorecard provided earlier coverage of this case here.

    The citizen admitted to soliciting and directing bribes from two U.S. citizens in exchange for securing payment priority for their companies from the oil company and for awards of the company's contracts. The citizen also admitted to conspiring with these individuals to launder and conceal the proceeds of the scheme through a series of financial transactions, including wire transfers to offshore accounts. Sentencing is scheduled for September 24.

    His conviction underscores how wide investigations can become as the DOJ continues pulling threads and obtaining guilty pleas. The DOJ has charged 15 defendants in the company's cases, 12 of whom have pleaded guilty to date, including the citizen. The DOJ also credited the assistance of the Swiss Federal Office of Justice and the Spanish Guardia Civil.

    Financial Crimes DOJ FCPA Anti-Money Laundering Bribery

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  • Paris-based multinational bank settles FCPA allegations concerning bribery of Libyan officials

    Financial Crimes

    On June 4, the DOJ announced that a Paris-based multinational bank and its wholly owned subsidiary agreed to pay $585 million to resolve charges in the United States and France involving bribes to Libyan officials. According to the DOJ, the bank will enter into a deferred prosecution agreement related to charges of conspiracy to violate the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions. The bank’s subsidiary will also plead guilty in the Eastern District of New York to similar charges. Almost $293 million of the resolution will be paid to France and credited by the U.S. This is the first coordinated anti-bribery enforcement action by the DOJ and French authorities. 

    The bank admitted that it had paid over $90 million in bribes through a Libyan broker in connection with 14 investments made by state-owned financial institutions in Libya. For each transaction, the bank paid the Libyan broker a commission, some of which the Libyan broker then paid to high ranking Libyan officials to secure the investments for the bank from the state institutions. This scheme resulted in the bank obtaining 13 investments and one restructuring from the Libyan state institutions, and earning approximately $523 million in profits. The scheme also involved payments for the benefit of a a Baltimore-based investment management firm subsidiary; the firm resolved its FCPA issues with the DOJ on the same day.

    As part of the same deferred prosecution agreement, the bank also agreed to pay $275 million to resolve charges arising from manipulation of U.S.-dollar and Japanese yen LIBOR.

    Financial Crimes DOJ Bribery

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  • Macau real estate developer sentenced for bribing UN officials

    Financial Crimes

    On May 11, Judge Vernon S. Broderick of the SDNY sentenced a Macau real estate developer to 48 months in prison and ordered him to pay a $1 million fine, $302,977 in restitution, and forfeiture of $1.5 million.  In July 2017, a jury convicted the developer of two counts of violating the FCPA, one count of paying bribes and gratuities, one count of money laundering, and two counts of conspiracy.  The conduct centered on the developer’s role in bribing UN officials in order to build a new multi-billion dollar conference center in Macau.   

    Five other defendants have been charged; four have pleaded guilty to various charges, and one passed away and the charges against him were dismissed.  Of the guilty pleas, two are awaiting sentencing.  The other two received sentences of seven months (conspiracy to defraud the United States) and 20 months (bribery).

    Prior Scorecard coverage of this matter can be viewed here.

    Financial Crimes International FCPA Bribery

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