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  • Senators Introduce Combating Global Corruption Act of 2017

    Financial Crimes

    Senator Ben Cardin and Republican co-sponsors recently introduced a bill titled the “Combating Global Corruption Act of 2017,” which seeks “to identify and combat corruption in countries, to establish a tiered system of countries with respect to levels of corruption by their governments and their efforts to combat such corruption, and to assess United States assistance to designated countries in order to advance anti-corruption efforts in those countries and better serve United States taxpayers.”

    This bill, if enacted, would require the Secretary of State to publish annual rankings of foreign countries split up into three tiers that depend on whether those countries’ governments comply with “minimum standards for the elimination of corruption.” The introduced bill defines corruption as “the exercise of public power for private gain, including by bribery, nepotism, fraud, or embezzlement.”

    Once a country’s tier-rank is established, the bill would then require the Secretary of State, Administrator of USAID, and the Secretary of Defense to take various steps, including the creation of a “corruption risk assessment” and “corruption mitigation strategy” for U.S. foreign assistance programs; fortified anti-corruption and clawback provisions in contracts, grants and other agreements; disclosure of beneficial ownership for contractors and other participants; and mechanisms to investigate misappropriated funds.

    If passed into law, this bill would create substantial new enforcement powers to combat international corruption activities. And, unlike the current ambiguity under the FCPA regarding its applicability to state-owned or state-controlled enterprises (“SOEs”), as drafted, this bill expressly would cover SOEs. Like the FCPA, however, this bill also contains a broad national security waiver component, if the Secretary of State “certifies to the appropriate congressional committees that such waiver is important to the national security interest of the United States.”

    Financial Crimes Anti-Corruption FCPA Bribery Fraud

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  • South Korea’s Former President Formally Indicted on Corruption Charges

    Financial Crimes

    On April 17, the former South Korean president was formally indicted on 18 charges of corruption including bribery, extortion, abuse of power, and leaking state secrets. The former president was impeached in December after months of public protests. Last month, she was removed from office and arrested.

    The corruption scandal has also implicated the former president’s longtime confidante, who is currently on trial on corruption charges. The pair is accused of coercing Korean businesses into donating $68 million to two non-profit foundations that the former president’s confidante controlled. They are both also accused of collecting or demanding $52 million in bribes from businesses, including $38 million from a Korean multinational conglomerate, $6.2 million from a retail conglomerate, and $7.8 million from a telecommunications and semiconductor conglomerate. The chairman of the retail conglomerate, was indicted on bribery charges on Monday.

    Financial Crimes FCPA Anti-Corruption Bribery

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  • FINRA Bars Broker Charged in NY Pension Fund Scandal

    Securities

    On March 28, FINRA filed a disciplinary action in the form of a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (Letter of Acceptance) against one of the brokers charged in December of last year for participating in a "pay-for-play" bribery scheme involving the $184 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund (NYSCRF). The Letter of Acceptance bars the broker from the industry and prohibits association with “any FINRA member in any capacity.” From 2014 through 2016, the broker, along with two other individuals, engaged in a scheme to defraud the pension fund, its members and beneficiaries, by paying bribes to a portfolio manager totaling more than $100,000 in the form of entertainment, travel expenses, narcotics, luxury gifts, and other items in “exchange for fixed-income business from the NYSCRF.” The broker was charged with allegedly conspiring to commit securities fraud, conspiring to obstruct justice in a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation, as well as wire fraud charges. Currently the SDNY criminal case and SEC civil action are pending against the broker.

    Securities FINRA Bribery

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  • Former Thailand Tourism Chief Sentenced to 50 Years for Accepting Bribes

    Financial Crimes

    On March 29, the former governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand was reportedly sentenced in Thailand to 50 years in prison for accepting $1.8 million in bribes from 2002 to 2007 from two U.S. filmmakers in exchange for rights to organize the Bangkok International Film Festival. The former tourism chief was also ordered to forfeit the bribe money. Her daughter received a 44-year prison sentence for her own involvement. In 2009, the U.S. filmmakers, who paid the bribes, were convicted in the U.S. on charges of FCPA violations. A U.S. federal court sentenced the filmmakers to six months incarceration, three years of supervised release, and $250,000 in restitution. 

    The former tourism chief and her daughter were also indicted in the U.S. in January 2009 for the same underlying conduct. The indictment raised interesting questions about the United States pursuing corruption on the “demand side,” in light of the fact that the FCPA does not criminalize the receipt of bribes. The indictment instead alleged money laundering violations and related charges. The former tourism chief moved to dismiss the U.S. indictment based on the double jeopardy provision of the Thai-US extradition treaty. The decision on her motion was stayed, pending the outcome of the Thai prosecution.

    Financial Crimes FCPA Anti-Corruption Bribery

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  • Netherlands-Based Financial Services Company Under Investigation by Dutch and U.S. Authorities for Activities Relating to a Russian Telecom Company

    Financial Crimes

    In an annual report filed with the SEC on March 20, 2017, a Netherlands-based financial services company, stated that it is under criminal investigation by Dutch authorities “regarding various requirements related to the on-boarding of clients, money laundering, and corrupt practices,” and that it has also received “related information requests” from U.S. authorities.  A spokesperson for the Dutch prosecutor reportedly expressed suspicion that the company failed to report irregular transactions and may have enabled international corruption, including unusual payments made by a Russian telecom company to a government official in Uzbekistan through a shell company.  The russian company settled bribery charges with the U.S. and Dutch governments in February 2016, admitting to paying bribes amounting over $114 million to an Uzbek official and agreeing to pay over $397 million in penalties to the DOJ and SEC for violations of the FCPA.  The financial services comapny stated that it is cooperating with the ongoing investigations and requests of Dutch and U.S. authorities.

    Financial Crimes Anti-Money Laundering Bribery Anti-Corruption

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  • French Financial Crimes Investigator Joins SFO Criminal Investigation of Aircraft Manufacturer

    Financial Crimes

    On Thursday, March 16, 2017, an aircraft manufacturer based in Toulouse, France, reportedly announced that a preliminary investigation has been opened by the Parquet National Financier, France’s financial crimes investigator, regarding the same fraud, bribery, and corruption allegations being probed by the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO). The company stated that the investigations into the use of third party agents by the company’s civil aviation business are being conducted in tandem, and it plans to cooperate fully with both the PNF and SFO. This unusual cooperation between France and the UK could potentially lead to the first use of a deferred prosecution agreement following France’s November 2016 enactment of the Law on Transparency, the Fight against Corruption and Modernization of Economic Life, which was enacted in response to international pressure on the French government to strengthen its corruption laws following severe sanctions imposed by the U.S. Department of Justice on French companies in recent years. 

    For prior coverage of the SFO’s investigation, please click here.

    UK SFO Bribery Anti-Corruption Fraud

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  • Law Firm Raided, Founders Arrested, Tied to Bribery Investigation

    Financial Crimes

    On February 8, authorities in Panama raided the offices of a law firm at the center of the sprawling Panama Papers scandal, and arrested the firm’s founders.  Reuters reports that Panama’s Attorney General announced on Twitter that the raid and arrests were tied to the investigation of the Brazilian construction company that in December reached a $3.5 billion combined global settlement with U.S., Brazilian, and Swiss authorities to resolve FCPA allegations.  Until now, the investigations spawned by the 2016 release of millions of documents stolen from the law firm were focused on money laundering and tax evasion.  The tie to the company’s investigation brings anti-bribery investigations into the mix.

    Financial Crimes Federal Issues Bribery FCPA

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  • CEO Questioned by UK SFO in Bribery Investigation

    Financial Crimes

    Less than a month ago, as previously reported on FCPA Scorecard, a UK-based manufacturer and global distributor for the civil aerospace, defense aerospace, marine, and energy sectors, entered into deferred prosecution agreements with the DOJ and UK SFO  to resolve allegations that the company conspired to violate anti-bribery laws around the world.  Now, Reuters reports that the company’s CEO has been questioned by the SFO regarding bribery allegations.  According to the article, the SFO refused to comment on the report, citing concerns about an ongoing investigation.

    Both the DOJ and SFO have repeatedly stated that they intend to pursue bribery cases against individuals.  But there is so far no indication that the DOJ is also investigating the company’s CEO.  Although DOJ could pursue such an investigation in the future, the agency may also defer to the SFO to handle the matter.

    Financial Crimes Bribery FCPA UK SFO

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  • Two More Former Hedge Fund Company Executives Charged by SEC in Far-Reaching Bribery Scheme

    Federal Issues

    On January 26, the SEC charged two more former executives at an American hedge fund company with being the “driving forces” behind a massive bribery scheme across Africa that violated the FCPA. The civil complaint, which was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, alleges that the former head of the company’s European office in London, and an investment executive on Africa-related deals, caused “[the company] to pay tens of millions of dollars in bribes to government officials on the continent of Africa.” Specific allegations include that they induced Libyan authorities to invest in the company’s managed funds, and directed illicit efforts to secure mining deals by bribing government officials in Libya, Chad, Niger, Guinea, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In announcing the complaint, Chief of the SEC’s FCPA Unit, said the defendants “were the masterminds of the company’s bribery scheme that improperly used investor funds to pay bribes through agents and partners to officials at the highest levels of foreign governments.” The complaint seeks disgorgement and civil monetary penalties among other remedies.

    The complaint follows the company’s payment last September of $412 million to the DOJ and SEC to settle criminal and civil charges in one of the largest ever FCPA enforcement actions. Previous FCPA Scorecard coverage of the company’s settlement with the DOJ and SEC can be found here.

    Federal Issues Securities Criminal Enforcement FCPA International SEC DOJ Bribery

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  • UK-based Manufacturer Settles FCPA Charges As Part of $800 Million Global Bribery Investigation Resolution

    Federal Issues

    On January 17, a UK-based manufacturer and distributor for the civil aerospace, defense aerospace, marine, and energy sectors worldwide, agreed to pay nearly $170 million to the DOJ to resolve charges that it conspired to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA around the world. The settlement with the DOJ (via a three-year deferred prosecution agreement (DPA)), was a fraction of the company's $800 million global resolution in connection with bribes paid to government officials in exchange for government contracts in China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nigeria, Russia, Thailand, Brazil, Kazahkstan, Azerbaijan, Angola, and Iraq.

    In addition to settling with the DOJ, the company resolved charges with the UK SFO by entering into a DPA and agreeing to pay a fine of $604,808,392.  The company entered into a leniency agreement with the Brazilian Ministério Público Federal (MPF) and agreed to pay a penalty of $25,579,170.

    According to the DPA Statement of Facts, the company admitted that between 2000 and 2013, it conspired to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA by paying more than $35 million in bribes to foreign officials in exchange for confidential information and/or government contracts.  Many of these contracts benefited RRESI, the company’s indirect U.S. subsidiary.  The company made the majority of the bribes by inflating commission payments to third-party intermediaries, who then paid part of the commission as bribes to government officials.

    The DOJ lauded the company’s cooperation in its investigation and as a result, the company received a 25 percent reduction from the low end of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines fine range due.  However, the DOJ refused to award the company any voluntary disclosure credit.  The DOJ has been transparent that it only will award voluntary disclosure credit when the disclosure occurs prior to an imminent threat of disclosure or government investigation. Here, that test was not satisfied because the company did not disclose the conduct until after media reports and the related SFO inquiry began.

    Federal Issues Criminal Enforcement FCPA DOJ UK SFO Bribery DPA

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