August 28th, 2015

Friday Roundup

Roundup2The latest edition of the double standard, survey says, when the dust settles, and for the reading stack.  It’s all here in the Friday roundup.

Double Standard

An individual currently holds political office in one unit of government, yet is also a candidate for a higher unit of government.

Among the contributors to organizations supporting the individual’s campaign for higher office are companies that have secured millions in contracts from the lower unit of government run by the individual.  After all, the individual may not prevail in the higher office race and thus return to the lower unit.

A prudent FCPA practitioner would spot the “red flags” as the contributions could be viewed as a way to curry favor with the individual upon return to the lower unit of government.

However, the individual (more accurately individuals) are not “foreign officials” they are current governors Chris Christie, John Kasich, Bobby Jindal, and Scott Walker who are also running for President.

For the latest edition of the double standard, see this Wall Street Journal article.

Bribery?

Silly you for even mentioning the “b” word.  This is all about “First Amendment rights” according to a source in the article.

Why do business interactions with “foreign officials” seem to be subject to different standards than business interactions with U.S. officials? Why do we reflexively label a “foreign official” who receives “things of value” from private business interests as corrupt, yet generally turn a blind eye when it happens here at home or call it something different such as participation in the political process? Is the FCPA enforced too aggressively or is enforcement of the U.S. domestic bribery statute too lax? Ought not there be some consistently between enforcement of the FCPA and the domestic bribery statute?

For approximately 50 other post highlighting these double standards, see this subject matter tag.

Survey Says

According to this recent ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Business Outlook Survey:

“The risk of pressure to bribe officials for essential licenses and permits varies greatly depending on the country from which executives responded. Less than half of the respondents in Brunei, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Singapore foresee that this risk will hinder their long-term operations, while large percentages of respondents in Cambodia (89%), Laos (85%), and Vietnam (74%) foresee that it will.”

“In contrast, facilitation payments for routine government services are a more common part of international business. (Routine government services may include processing governmental papers, such as visas and work orders, or such services as police protection, power supply, phone service, etc.) In nearly all countries, the risk of pressure to bribe officials to speed up routine government services is slightly higher than the comparable risk for essential licenses and permits.”

In passing the FCPA, Congress recognized the inherent difficulties companies encounter in foreign markets and thus elected not to capture payments in connection with licenses, permits and the like in the anti-bribery provisions.  (To learn more, see “The Story of the FCPA“).  Congress also chose to exempt facilitation payments from the anti-bribery provisions.

When The Dust Settles

FCPA enforcement actions only focus on alleged bribe payers.  However, when an FCPA enforcement action concludes, there is still an alleged “foreign official” who allegedly received the bribe payments.  When the dust settles, what happens to the “foreign official”?

For years, guest contributor Mike Dearington followed the DOJ’s 2011 enforcement action against Juthamas Siriwan, the former government officer of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, and Jittisopa Siriwan, the daughter of the alleged “foreign official” who was also alleged to be an “employee of Thailand Privilege Card Co. Ltd.” an entity controlled by TAT and an alleged “instrumentality of the Thai government.”  The Siriwan’s allegedly received improper payments from Gerald and Patricia Green who were convicted of FCPA and related offenses in 2009 and served time in federal prison. (See prior posts at this subject matter tag).

In short, the federal court judge overseeing the DOJ’s money laundering case against Siriwan stayed the case pending expected legal proceedings in Thailand against Siriwan.

Earlier this week, the Bangkok Post reported:

“The Criminal Court has indicted former Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) governor Juthamas Siriwan and her daughter in a film festival bribery case, the Office of the Attorney-General spokesman said Wednesday.  Prosecutors indicted Mrs Juthamas, 68, and her daugther Jittisopha, 41, in the Criminal Court on Tuesday on charges of taking bribes, corruption and bid-rigging, plus breaching Section 6 of the law dealing with state employees’ offences and Section 12 of the law governing submitting tenders to state agencies, which carries a maximum jail term of 20 years.”

This development is expected to functionally end the U.S. prosecution.

In other news relevant to the above enforcement action, the Hollywood Reporter reports that Gerald Green recently died.  He was 83.

Reading Stack

The most recent edition of the always informative FCPA Update by Debevoise & Plimpton has a nice write-up of the recent BNY Mellon enforcement action (see here and here for prior posts).  In pertinent part, the Update states:

In the SEC’s View, a Thing of Value Can Be Purely Psychological

[T]he government’s investigations in this area face a key threshold legal issue under the FCPA: can providing a job or internship to an official’s relative constitute a thing of value to the official him/herself? Can offering the purely psychological benefit of helping a child or relative land a job give rise to an actionable attempt at bribery? The official does not stand to see any personal financial gain from the internship, except in the arguable circumstance of reducing the official’s financial obligations to a dependent. But the SEC seems to have purposely disclaimed – or at least strained – that theory here, given that one of the internships at issue was unpaid. The SEC addressed this thorny issue in a single sentence in the Order, asserting that “[t]he internships were valuable work experience, and the requesting officials derived significant personal value in being able to confer this benefit on their family members.”

The SEC has previously suggested that an intangible benefit can be a “thing of value” under the FCPA, having faulted Schering-Plough for providing a requested donation to a legitimate charity with which a foreign official and his spouse were closely involved, in an alleged attempt to influence the official. The BNYM Order, however, seems to represent a significant expansion of that thinking. Notably, in Schering-Plough the SEC charged only a “books and records” violation, not a violation of the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions. Moreover, even assuming intangible prestige or listing an internship on a resumé can be a thing of value, Schering-Plough at least involved a transfer of funds at the official’s request, which arguably allowed the official himself to reap the prestige of the donation. Here, the prestigious and valuable work experiences – one of which was entirely unpaid – went not to the official but to the official’s family member, and thus only indirectly benefited the official.

Evidentiary Issues: Quid Pro Quo or Internal Speculation?

The BNYM case and others like it also raise difficult evidentiary issues for FCPA enforcement authorities. How can one draw the line between a genuine quid pro quo – an actual exchange of a personal benefit to an official for a business assignment – from mere internal speculation and anxiety about potentially damaging an important relationship? Here, the BNYM Order is notable for what it does not say: the Order does not place the internship hiring requests in the context of any specific business opportunity, or any review or re-evaluation of whether the Sovereign Wealth Fund should maintain its existing business relationship with BNYM. Rather, the cited internal communications reflect a generalized desire to gather additional business in the future or to a perception that existing business could be diminished relative to competitors.

Here, the lack of any tie to a concrete business opportunity could simply be a function of the asset management business, in which funds for investment are (in general terms) fungible. Time will tell whether, in other contexts, courts or enforcement authorities will focus more on an attempt to win a specific business opportunity rather than simply an effort to create or maintain good relations that may (or may not) bear fruit over time. For now, the SEC appears to have followed the controversial “quid pro quo lite” theory that has garnered some success in DOJ criminal domestic bribery prosecutions; in that sense, the reach of the Order may not be that surprising – although its theoretical underpinnings in the FCPA arena remain largely untested.

The SEC’s justification for the imposition of a disgorgement remedy is also difficult to locate within its factual recitation. The disgorgement amount of $8.3 million cannot be explained by the relatively minor new investment with BNYM (of less than $1 million). It stands to reason, then, that the disgorgement amount is based, at least in part, on BNYM’s retention of its existing business with the Sovereign Wealth Fund. The causation analysis on that point is not transparent, as the facts stated do not suggest any meaningful way to assess the degree to which the intern hires arguably contributed to maintaining the existing relationship. The result may be the product of any number of unstated factors that went into the settlement, highlighting once again, why settlements should not make law.

[...]

Overall, the BNYM Order highlights two areas of frequent criticism of FCPA enforcement. First, the activity under scrutiny bears a strong similarity to what are perceived as common practices in the private sector in which firms seek to accommodate client representative requests in order to maintain good relations with key decision makers. In this way, enforcement authorities risk criticism that they are using the FCPA to excise business practices affecting relationships with foreign officials abroad that are routinely tolerated in the private sector in the United States – and that are not unprecedented or even rare in the context of companies’ relationships with officials employed by the United States federal, state, and local governments.

Second, the SEC’s choice of a consented-to cease-and-desist order to announce a new and expansive interpretation of the FCPA leaves its interpretations of the law entirely untested by judicial scrutiny and adversarial process. Given that BNYM did not admit the allegations in the Order, BNYM had very little incentive to challenge the SEC’s view of the facts and law, yet as with Schering-Plough’s resolution (referenced above), the SEC’s debatable interpretive position may go years (or decades) without judicial scrutiny.

As noted at the outset, the BNYM Order is just the first resolution of a case of this kind. Others may follow, including in DOJ matters, which will likely shed additional light on the landscape in this area.”

*****

A good weekend to all.

Posted by Mike Koehler at 12:03 am. Post Categories: BNY MellonDouble StandardFCPA StatisticsGreensPermits / Licenses / Customs / TaxSiriwan




August 27th, 2015

Mid-Year Review Of Anti-Corruption Law North Of The 49th Parallel

CanadaA guest post  from Mark Morrison (Blake, Cassels & Graydon) the Canada Expert for FCPA Professor, and Blakes attorneys Michael Dixon and James Reid.

*****

This year, Canada has been actively implementing laws aimed at a holistic approach to the fight against corruption. This post discusses some of the new legislation effected by the Canadian Government to compliment Canada’s equivalent of the FCPA, the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act (CFPOA), as well as some of the recent enforcement proceedings taking place in Canada so far this year.

New Anti-Corruption Laws

The Integrity Regime – On July 3, 2015, the Government’s principal contracting arm, Public Works and Government Services Canada,  announced the implementation of a new government-wide Integrity Regime for all federal government procurement. The new Regime replaced the Integrity Framework, which was heavily criticized as being unfairly harsh for its lack of due process and failure to account for remedial actions taken by companies subject  to its application. The new Regime has provided some flexibility to ameliorate some of the harshest aspects of the Framework.

Under the Integrity Regime, a supplier is barred from doing business with the Government of Canada for 10 years if it or any board members have been convicted or discharged in the past three years for a range of integrity-related offences in Canada or abroad, including bribery, fraud, bid-rigging, tax evasion, insider trading and money laundering. However, the decade long ban can be cut in half if the supplier shows it has taken action to co-operate with authorities, takes remedial action and enters into an administrative agreement with the Government. While the new regime amounts to a retreat from the integrity rules enacted just last March, in which any prior conviction against a supplier or any of its international affiliates would have earned a 10-year ban with no chance of its reduction, the automatic debarment penalty remains–unlike the U.S. equivalent integrity provisions.

In addition, arguably the most significant improvement to the former Integrity Framework, is that the new Regime eliminates mandatory ineligibility of a supplier for the actions of an affiliate (including a parent company) unless there is evidence that the supplier/potential supplier had involvement in the wrongdoing that led to the conviction of its affiliate.

The Extractive Sector Transparency Measures Act (ESTMA) – ESTMA is Canada’s latest step in the global fight against corruption. The ESTMA, which came into force on June 1, 2015, is designed to complement Canada’s existing anti-corruption regime in the CFPOA by creating greater transparency over payments to a government by the extractive sector. ESTMA’s reporting requirements apply to companies engaged in the development of oil, gas or minerals that are either (a) listed on a Canadian stock exchange or (b) have a place of business in Canada, do business in Canada or have assets in Canada, and which meet certain size thresholds.

Companies subject to the ESTMA are required to report and publically disclose all payments, including taxes, royalties, fees and any other consideration for licenses, permits or concessions in excess of CAD$100,000. The Government has recently published draft guidelines and reporting specifications for public comment. The ESTMA will apply to payments to certain aboriginal governments, subject to a two-year transitional period. Non-compliance with the reporting requirements is an offence. Any director or officer who directed, authorized, assented to, acquiesced in or participated in the non-compliance can also be held personally liable. These offences are subject to a maximum fine of CAD$250,000 for each day that the non-compliance continues.

Recent Enforcement Proceedings

Canadian anti-corruption enforcement has increased from 2014, which did not see any penalties imposed on corporate defendants under the CFPOA. The lack of enforcement in 2014 may have been reflective of the considerable resources and attention that was dedicated by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to the high profile investigation of Canada’s largest construction and engineering firm.

SNC Lavalin In February of this year, the RCMP laid corporate corruption and fraud charges against the Quebec based construction and engineering companies of the  SNC Lavalin Group, which stems from the Group’s dealings in Libya between 2001 and 2011. The RCMP investigation has also lead to criminal charges against several former SNC executives.

SNC maintains that any wrongdoing was the act of rogue individuals no longer employed by the company, and has entered a plea of not guilty. Unlike in the United States, Canada does not currently have deferred prosecution agreements, civil settlements, or other formal resolution procedures available outside of a criminal guilty plea. No preliminary hearing dates have been set in relation to the corruption charges against SNC.

In addition, to the Libya allegations, former SNC executives have also been charged in connection with an alleged bribery scandal related to a $1.3 billion hospital project in Montreal, where it has been alleged that former SNC executives funneled money to ex-McGill hospital officials in exchange for the contract. A three week preliminary hearing, which is protected by a publication ban, heard testimony from about 16 people this past March.  No decision on committal for trial has yet been issued.

MagIndustries – The RCMP has obtained a search warrant and is investigating allegations from a whistleblowing accountant at MagIndustries Corporation, that bribes were paid to officials in the Republic of Congo to win approvals tied to a potash mine development. The RCMP believe four top executives with the company, including the CEO, ignored warnings from Canadian financial advisers and signed off on a string of illegal payments to Congolese officials. None of the allegations contained in the search warrant have been tested in court, and the RCMP has not laid any charges to date.

Canadian Senate Expenses Scandal – dominating Canadian media headlines since the recent announcement of the October Federal Election, is the ongoing political scandal concerning the expense claims of certain Canadian senators which began in late 2012. Senators Patrick Brazeau, Mike Duffy, Mac Harb, and Pamela Wallin claimed travel and living allowance expenses which were ineligible. Brazeau, Duffy, and Harb were criminally charged with one count each of fraud and breach of trust. As a result, the Auditor General of Canada examined expense claims made by all the other 116 senators and former senators over a two-year period. In the June 2015 report of the Auditor General, the Auditor General identified thirty senators whose claims were ineligible, and of these, recommended that nine cases be referred for police investigation.

Conclusion

Canada continues to focus on anti-corruption compliance and enforcement by bolstering the legislative tools available to law enforcement and government agencies. Onlookers are intently watching what will come from the high profile cases against SNC and the Canadian senators. As things are looking now, the remainder of 2015 is shaping up to be one of the most active years in Canadian anti-corruption enforcement history.

Posted by Mike Koehler at 12:03 am. Post Categories: CanadaGuest PostsYear in Review 2015




August 26th, 2015

Do You Now Understand Why The Meaning Of “Foreign Official” Matters?

Understand2For some time, certain people have been confused, perplexed etc. as to why the meaning of “foreign official” in the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions matters.

In connection with the June 2011 Foreign Corrupt Practices Act reform hearing in the House of Representatives, a variety of civil society organizations asked – why is greater clarity needed as “foreign official” – “greater certainty of what? Greater certainty of who [companies] are permitted to bribe and who [companies] are not permitted to bribe.”

In the immediate aftermath of the May 2014 “foreign official” in U.S. v. Esquenazi, a commentator stated:

 “If your are trying to figure out whether a company is a private company or an “instrumentality” of a foreign government under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act you are already in trouble. To reach that point in the FCPA analysis you’ve already paid a bribe, or are thinking of paying a bribe. (If you’re just thinking about it; Don’t do it.) Otherwise you’ll end up in the position of Joel Esquenazi and Carlos Rodriguez.”

Such comments were, and still are, entirely off-base and not the main reason why the meaning of “foreign official” matters. To be sure, the meaning of “foreign official” mattered to Esquenazi and Rodriguez in the narrow context of their case and more broadly for the obvious rule of law reasons implicated in criminal law enforcement.

Stating that the meaning of “foreign official” matters only to those intent on engaging in bribery is like saying the drinking laws matter only to those intent on drunk driving. Sure, the drinking laws can certainly capture those engaged in drunk driving, yet the reality is the underlying activity – drinking – is legal and socially acceptable in most other situations.

The same is true when it comes to the meaning of “foreign official.” The FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions are generally implicated when anything of value is offered or provided to a “foreign official” in connection with a business purpose.

Some will still maintain that the above is all fine and dandy, but a company still shouldn’t “bribe.”

However, as recent enforcement activity has highlighted, FCPA enforcement actions are increasingly based on allegations concerning internships (BNY Mellon), sports tickets (BHP Billiton), travel and entertainment (FLIR Systems and several other enforcement actions) and other inconsequential things of value such as flowers, cigarettes, and visits to karaoke bars (Eli Lilly and several other enforcement actions).

In other words, the underlying activity is legal and socially acceptable in most situations. In fact, it is often called effective sales and marketing, wining and dining the customer, or maintaining good will. Yet when such activity is focused, directly or indirectly, on a “foreign official” the U.S. government is inclined to call it bribery.

In short, the meaning of “foreign official” determines whether a criminal law applies to an interaction in the global marketplace. The Esquenazi decision expanded regulation of business interactions with a “well-defined group of persons” (as correctly noted by the 5th Circuit in U.S. v. Castle) to an ill-defined, practically boundless category of persons.

The proper scope and meaning of the “foreign official” is an issue of extraordinary practical significance to businesses and individuals subject to the FCPA. Not because business organizations want to bribe, but because business organizations competing in good faith in the global marketplace want to engage in conduct that is legal and socially acceptable in most other situations.

Do you now understand why the meaning of “foreign official” matters?

Posted by Mike Koehler at 12:03 am. Post Categories: Foreign Official




August 25th, 2015

The Importance Of The FCPA’s Legislative History

CongressTo some, the legislative history of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act is not important.

However, there is one category of persons who rightly care about the motivations of Congress in passing the FCPA, the competing bills Congress considered in enacting the FCPA, and Congress’s intent as to various elements of the FCPA.

That group is federal court judges.

As readers no doubt know, judicial scrutiny of FCPA enforcement theories is sparse.  Yet when it does occur, a common thread in most FCPA judicial decisions is discussion and analysis of the FCPA’s legislative history, often but not exclusively because the judge found various provisions of the FCPA ambiguous.

The recent decision (see here for the prior post) by  Judge Janet Bond Arterton (D. Conn.) trimming the DOJ’s FCPA enforcement action against Lawrence Hoskins by granting in part his motion to dismiss and denying a DOJ motion in limine was based primarily on the FCPA’s legislative history and what it revealed about Congress’s intent in capturing a certain category of defendant.

Likewise, although the 11th Circuit completely bungled its analysis of the FCPA’s legislative history relevant to the “foreign official” element in its 2014 U.S. v. Esquenazi opinion (see this article at pgs. 24-42 for a detailed analysis), the opinion nevertheless contained much discussion of the FCPA’s legislative history.

Several FCPA commentators object to the notion that the FCPA is ambiguous or that resort to legislative history is important. This Forbes article titled “Top 5 Misconceptions About The FCPA” set out to “clear up a few misconceptions about the FCPA.”  Number one on the list of misconceptions was that ‘the FCPA is a vague statute.”  The FCPA Blog has long maintained (see here and here for examples) that FCPA lawyers say that the law is “complicated, technically challenging, obscure, poorly drafted and badly organized” but warns,” don’t believe it. There’s no evidence in the record that judges or juries have any trouble understanding the FCPA.”

The above protestations and observations are just plain wrong.  There is abundant ”evidence in the record” that the FCPA is an ambiguous statute and/or that the FCPA’s legislative history is important.

In addition, to the recent Hoskins and Esquenazi cases, this post summarizes the many other instances in which federal court judges have found various provisions of the FCPA to be ambiguous and/or have consulted the FCPA’s legislative history.

In SEC v. Straub,  921 F.Supp.2d 244 (S.D.N.Y. 2013) Judge Richard Sullivan (see here for the prior post) found the FCPA’s jurisdictional element ambiguous and thus consulted the legislative history.

In SEC v. Jackson, 908 F.Supp.2d 834 (S.D.Tex. 2012)Judge Keith Ellison consulted the FCPA’s legislative history regarding: the need to identify the “foreign official,” the facilitation payments exception, and the corrupt intent element.

In U.S. v. Jensen, 532 F.Supp.2d 1187 (N.D. Cal. 2008), Judge Charles Breyer stated as follows regarding  § 78m(b)(5) which makes “knowing” violations of the FCPA books and records and internal control provisions a crime.  “Because the plain language of § 78m(b)(5) is not unambiguous, the Court turns to legislative history.”

In U.S. v. Kozeny, 582 F.Supp.2d 535 (S.D.N.Y. 2008), Judge Shira Scheindlin consulted the legislative history in a decision concerning the FCPA’s local law affirmative defense.

In U.S. v. Kozeny, 493 F.Supp.2d 693 (S.D.N.Y. 2007), Judge Scheindlin stated as follows concerning the statute of limitations applicable to FCPA criminal violations.  “I find that [18 U.S.C. § 3282] is ambiguous, and turn to its legislative history for guidance on its proper interpretation.”

In U.S. v. Bodmer, 342 F.Supp.2d 176 (S.D.N.Y. 2004), Judge Scheindlin addressed the question “whether prior to the 1998 amendments, foreign nationals who acted as agents of domestic concerns, and who were not residents of the United States, could be criminally prosecuted under the FCPA.”  Judge Scheindlin concluded that the FCPA’s language, as it existed prior to the 1998 amendments, was ambiguous and she thus resorted to legislative history.  Judge Scheindlin further commented in dismissing the FCPA charges against Bodmer as follows.  “After consideration of the statutory language, legislative history, and judicial interpretations of the FCPA, the jurisdictional scope of the statute’s criminal penalties is still unclear.”

In Stichting v. Schreiber, 327 F.3d 173 (2d Cir. 2003), the Court stated as follows.  “It is difficult to determine the meaning of the word “corruptly” simply by reading it in context. We therefore look outside the text of the statute to determine its intended meaning. [...]  (“Legislative history and other tools of interpretation may be relied upon only if the terms of the statute are ambiguous.”

In U.S. v. Kay, 200 F.Supp.2d 681 (S.D. Tex. 2002), Judge David Hittner concluded that the FCPA’s “obtain or retain business” element was ambiguous and thus turned to an analysis of the legislative history.  On appeal, the Fifth Circuit (see 359 F.3d 738 (5th Cir. 2004)) likewise stated as follows prior to an extensive review of the FCPA’s legislative history.

“[T]he district court concluded that the FCPA’s language is ambiguous, and proceeded to review the statute’s legislative history.  We agree with the court’s finding of ambiguity for several reasons. Perhaps our most significant statutory construction problem results from the failure of the language of the FCPA to give a clear indication of the exact scope of the business nexus element; that is, the proximity of the required nexus between, on the one hand, the anticipated results of the foreign official’s bargained-for action or inaction, and, on the other hand, the assistance provided by or expected from those results in helping the briber to obtain or retain business. Stated differently, how attenuated can the linkage be between the effects of that which is sought from the foreign official in consideration of a bribe (here, tax minimization) and the briber’s goal of finding assistance or obtaining or retaining foreign business with or for some person, and still satisfy the business nexus element of the FCPA?”

In U.S. v. Blondek, 741 F.Supp. 116 (N.D.Tex 1990), Judge Harold Sanders consulted the FCPA’s legislative history in concluding that “foreign officials” can not be charged with conspiracy to violate the FCPA.

To some, the FCPA’s legislative history is nothing more than a history lesson.

However, federal court judges who interpret the FCPA in the rare occasions they are given an opportunity to do have consistently reminded us otherwise.

This is why the Story of the FCPA (see here for the article) remains important today.

Posted by Mike Koehler at 12:02 am. Post Categories: FCPA JurisprudenceLegislative History




August 24th, 2015

Do Your Hiring Practices Live Up To The SEC’s New Expectations?

HRAs highlighted several times on FCPA Professor, there are two distinct questions that can be asked in connection with many instances of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act scrutiny and enforcement.

The first is whether, given the DOJ’s and/or SEC’s enforcement theories, the conduct at issue can expose a company to FCPA scrutiny and an FCPA enforcement action?

The second is whether Congress in passing the FCPA intended to capture the alleged conduct at issue and whether a court would find the alleged conduct in violation of the FCPA?

In a legal system based on the rule of law, the second question of course is more important, but as a practical matter risk averse business organizations care more about the first question.

Previous posts (here and here) highlighted critical questions concerning last week’s SEC enforcement action against BNY Mellon based on the company’s alleged internship hiring practices – an enforcement action that is expected to be the first of similar actions expected in coming months.

Now that the dust has settled, and until a business organization stands up to the SEC (small chance that will happen as the SEC has never been put to its burden of proof in a corporate FCPA enforcement action in history), issuers would be wise to ask whether its hiring practices live up to the SEC’s new expectations.

Those expectations, articulated by the SEC in the BNY Mellon action, are phrased below in the form of questions.

  • Does the company’s anti-corruption policy “explicitly address the hiring of government officials’ relatives”?
  • Does the company require “that every application for a full-time hire or an internship be routed through a centralized HR application process”?
  • Does the company’s Code of Conduct “require that every year each employee certify that he or she is not responsible for hiring through a non-centralized channel”?
  • Does the company’s application process require “that each applicant indicate whether he/she is a close personal associate of a government official or has recently been a government official?”

Even if your company is not an issuer subject to SEC jurisdiction, all business organizations should ask the above questions given that the SEC also charged BNY Mellon with FCPA anti-bribery violations – provisions which apply to all forms of business organization.

In short, the compliance message from the BNY Mellon enforcement action is that FCPA compliance is not just a legal function, not just a finance, accounting and auditing function, but now also a human resources function.

Posted by Mike Koehler at 12:05 am. Post Categories: BNY MellonComplianceHuman Resources