Archive for the ‘David Edmonds’ Category

Friday Roundup

Friday, December 21st, 2012

Better late than never, Judge Leon pulls a Judge Rakoff, Edmonds sentenced, it’s official, whistleblower statistics, it ought to stop marketing, China related issues, ICE melted quickly, and a U.K. enforcement action.  It’s all here in the Friday roundup.

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Under The Microscope

Academic publishing is seldom quick. Yet before the calendar flips into another year, I am pleased to share my article concerning 2011 FCPA enforcement.  The abstract of ”The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Under The Microscope” (see here to download) recently published in the University of Pennsylvania Journal of Business Law is as follows.  Information in the article is current as of January 16, 2012.

For most of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act’s history, key decisions concerning its scope and enforcement were made behind closed doors around conference room tables in Washington, D.C. The FCPA took on a life of its own and, in many instances, the statute came to mean whatever the DOJ or SEC could get putative corporate FCPA defendants (mindful of the consequences of actual prosecuted charges) to agree to behind those closed doors. However, as the enforcement agencies continued to push the envelope on enforcement theories and practices, and as the DOJ brought more individual FCPA enforcement actions, including through manufactured sting operations, business entities and individuals alike began to openly fight back. While many FCPA enforcement decisions and procedures remain opaque, 2011 witnessed the most intense year of public scrutiny in the FCPA’s history. This Article (i) provides an overview of 2011 FCPA enforcement and discusses certain problematic enforcement trends, and (ii) highlights how in 2011 the FCPA was subjected to the most meaningful public scrutiny in its history. FCPA enforcement trends and scrutiny demonstrate that as the FCPA nears its thirty-fifth year, basic legal and policy questions remain as to the purpose, scope, and effectiveness of the FCPA.

Start your collection of FCPA Year in Reviews.  For my 2011 (short version), see here.  For 2010, see here (short version), here (long version).  For 2009, see here (long version).

Judge Leon Pulls a Judge Rakoff

My post concerning the SEC’s March 2011 enforcement action against IBM was titled “Questions Abound in IBM Enforcement Action.”  (See here).  Among the issues I discussed were the following.  That in December 2000, IBM resolved an FCPA enforcement action and consented, as part of the settlement, to the entry of an Order that requires IBM to cease and desist from committing or causing any future violation of [the FCPA's books and records provisions].  I noted that because the March 2011 enforcement action alleged FCPA books and records charges, that IBM was thus in clear violation of the 2000 court order.

The case was assigned to Judge Richard Leon (of Africa Sting fame) and lingered for a long time.  This Wall Street Journal Corruption Currents post and this Bloomberg article report that Judge Leon has refused to approve the settlement.

As stated by Bloomberg – “The heart of the dispute is that Leon, who has had the case under review for 22 months, wants reporting on a broader range of possible wrongdoing than the company is willing to turn over.  Leon, who spoke loudly and angrily, asked why the regulator would agree to limit such requirements for a company with a history of books-and-records violations. [...]   “I guess you want that $10 million judgment on your list of achievements this year,” Leon told [the SEC lawyer]. “Well, it’s not going to happen.”  He scheduled a hearing for Feb. 4.”

As stated by Wall Street Journal Corruption Current – “Leon also questioned broader SEC settlement policies and warned that he was among “a growing number of district judges who are increasingly concerned” by those policies.”

In not ”rubber stamping” the SEC – IBM settlement, Judge Leon pulled a Judge Rakoff.  Judge Rakoff of the S.D. of N.Y. has been a frequent focus on this site – see here, here, here and here.  See also, the discussion of Judge Rakoff in my 2010 article “The Facade of FCPA Enforcement.”

Edmonds Sentence

This past June, David Edmonds, a defendant in the long-running “Carson” enforcement action involving former employees of Control Components Inc., agreed to plead guilty on the eve of trial to substantially reduced charges. (See here for the prior post).  Earlier this week, Judge James Selna sentenced Edmonds to four months in prison and four months of home confinement.  (See here for Judge Selna’s sentencing memo).  As noted in the DOJ’s sentencing memo (here), the DOJ sought a 14 month prison sentence.

Other defendants previously sentenced in the case are Stuart Carson (4 months in prison followed by 8 months of home detention), Hong Carson (3 years probation to include 6 months of home detention) and Paul Cosgrove (13 months home detention).

It’s Official

Imagine a foreign country in which the president is actively seeking and accepting corporate money to fund inaugural festivities.  All sorts of red flags right?

But wait, this describes the United States and President Obama’s upcoming inauguration.  As detailed in this prior post, President Obama’s fundraising advisers “have urged the White House to accept corporate donations for his January 2013 inaugural celebration rather than rely exclusively on weary donors who underwrote his $1 billion re-election effort.”

It’s now official.  As noted by this recent New York Times article “President Obama’s finance team is offering corporations and other institutions that contribute $1 million exclusive access to an array of inaugural festivities.”  As noted in the article, Obama’s finance team is offering four different packages “with differing levels of access depending on the level of contribution.”

Our FCPA enforcement agencies are bringing enforcement actions against companies for conduct that includes providing $600 bottles of wine, Cartier watches, cameras, kitchen appliances, business suits, and executive education classes to individuals employed by foreign companies that are allegedly state-owned or state-controlled.  (These are all allegations found in recent FCPA enforcement actions).

But remember, as Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer recently declared (see here), “we in the United States are in a unique position to spread the gospel of anti-corruption.”

Whistleblower Statistics

The Dodd-Frank Act enacted in July 2010 contained whistleblower provisions applicable to all securities law violations including the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.  In this prior post from July 2010, I predicted that the new whistleblower provisions would have a negligible impact on FCPA enforcement.  As noted in this prior post, my prediction was an outlier (so it seemed) compared to the flurry of law firm client alerts that predicted that the whistleblower provisions would have a significant impact on FCPA enforcement.

So far, there have not been any whistleblower awards in connection with FCPA enforcement actions.  Given that enforcement actions (from point of first disclosure to resolution) typically take between 2-4 years, it still may be too early to effectively analyze the impact of the whistleblower provisions on FCPA enforcement.

Whatever your view, I previously noted that the best part of the new whistleblower provisions were that its impact on FCPA enforcement can be monitored and analyzed because the SEC is required to submit annual reports to Congress.  Last month, the SEC released (here) its annual report for FY2012.

Of the 3,001 whisteblower tips received by the SEC in FY2012, 3.8% (115) related to the FCPA.  As noted in this similar post from last year, in FY2011 (a partial reporting year)  3.9% of the 334 tips received by the SEC related to the FCPA.

It Ought to Stop Marketing

In this previous post titled “It Ought to Stop” I focused on the FCPA conference industry and how conference firms drive attendance to their events by touting the public servants who will speak at the event.

Here is how conference firm C5 touts its upcoming conference in a press release (here).

Ask the U.S. DOJ and U.S. SEC directly how your company can remain compliant

Hear the latest on the newly released FCPA guidance. Along with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission’s, Charles E. Cain, the Deputy Chief of the FCPA Unit, Enforcement Division, we will have Matthew S. Queler, from the Criminal Division at the U.S. Department of Justice, presenting comprehensive, insightful and practical details of the U.S. government’s interpretation of the guidance, and highlight recent examples designed to help prevent future violations.  Their session at 14:00 on Day 1, will help you navigate the ever evolving markets and recognize the current enforcement trends; giving you the tools to reanalyse risk profiles and minimize areas of exposure. Finally, to top off the hour you will be given an exclusive opportunity to have your FCPA questions answered. The only way to obtain answers directly from the U.S. DOJ and U.S. SEC is to register for this forum!

The event, depending when you register and which package you select, costs between €4341 – €1795.

It ought to stop.

China Related Issues

An occassional topic of discussion on this site is Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and how such companies are frequently doing business outside its borders, including here in the U.S. (See here, here, and here for prior posts).

Wall Street Journal Columnist Dennis Berman “hit the nail on the head” in his recent column when he noted that one of “the most intriguing business stories of the past month has been taking place in San Francisco, where a group of U.S. developers is planning the biggest real-estate expansion there since the 1906 earthquake. The group—which includes Lennar Corp., Ross Perot Jr. and others —isn’t getting financing from an American bank or pension fund. No, the money, some $1.7 billion of it, is coming from the China Development Bank, a policy arm of the Chinese state.  As Berman further notes, a financing contingency is that China Railway Construction Corp. – a state-owned infrastructure builder with roots in the People’s Liberation Army—take part in the projects, which will develop up to 20,000 new homes.

Another occasional topic of discussion on this site is how Chinese companies are listing shares on U.S. exchanges and thus becoming “issuers” for purposes of the FCPA.  (See here for a prior post).  A core FCPA enforcement action of a Chinese issues has never occurred, but I predict it will some day – diplomatic and foreign policy issues aside.  Only now, the universe of potential targets is shrinking.  As noted in this recent Wall Street Journal article, several Chinese companies have delisted from U.S. exchanges.  The article provides the following information.  “At the peak, at year-end 2010, 167 Chinese companies were listed on Nasdaq and 99 on the NYSE. That compares with 84 China-based companies on NYSE and 129 on Nasdaq as of Nov. 30, 2012, according to the exchanges.”  For more, see this recent article from the New York Times.

ICE Melted Quickly

This recent post highlighted the cert petition of Instituto Constarricense de Electricidad of Costa Rica (“ICE”) to the Supreme Court related to victim issues in connection with the December 2010 Alcatel-Lucent FCPA enforcement action.  After several unsuccessful 11th Circuit appeals, ICE petitioned the Supreme Court to hears it case (see here).  The question presented for review is as follows.  “Whether a crime victim who is denied rights conferred by the federal Crime Victims’ Rights Act has a right to directly appeal the denial of those rights.”

The ice melted quickly as recently the Supreme Court denied ICE’s petition.

U.K. Enforcement Action

Earlier this week, the U.K. Serious Fraud Office announced (here) charges against former employees of Swift Group (an oil and gas services provider) following “a two-year investigation into allegations of corruption in relation to the tax affairs of Swift Technical Energy Solutions Ltd, a Nigerian subsidiary of the Swift Group of companies.”  According to the SFO release,  ”the value of the bribes alleged to have been paid is approximately£180,000.”

The SFO release notes that Paul Jacobs (the former Chief Financial Officer of Swift), Bharat Sodha (the former Tax Manager of Swift), Nidhi Vyas (the former Financial Controller of Swift), and Trevor Bruce (the former Area Director for Nigeria of Swift) were charged in relation to “bribes to tax officials to avoid, reduce or delay paying tax on behalf of workers placed by Swift.  The charges relate to payments said to have been made to agents of the Rivers State Board of Internal Revenue and the Lagos State Board of Internal Revenue, both in Nigeria. The payments were made in 2008 and 2009.”

*****

A happy holiday season to all.

Edmonds Pleads Guilty As Trial Nears

Monday, June 18th, 2012

The Department of Justice would like for all to believe that its plea agreements represent acknowledgment of the legitimacy of its enforcement theories including as to “foreign official.”  A prior guest post (here) referred to this dynamic as prosecutorial common law.  As to “foreign official,” in the Carson briefing (see here at pg. 46) the DOJ stated the following - because DOJ has secured approximately 35 guilty pleas from individuals who admitted to bribing officials at SOEs ”it is thus ‘plain as a pikestaff’ that the FCPA prohibits paying bribes to officials who work at SOEs.”  You can subscribe to that position if you choose or realize that testing one’s innocence comes at a high cost in our system.  (See here for the prior post).

The conclusion is yours to draw, the facts are as follows.

*****

In April 2009, David Edmonds was criminally charged, along with other defendants who were also former employees of Control Components Inc. (CCI), in a criminal indictment (here) for engaging in “a conspiracy to secure contracts by paying bribes to officials of foreign state-owned companies as well as officers and employees of foreign and domestic private companies.”

As to Edmonds (the Vice-President of Worldwide Customer Service at CCI), the indictment alleged as follows.  “From in or around 2003 through in or around 2007, defendant Edmonds caused [CCI's] employees and agents to make corrupt payments totaling approximately $430,000 to officers and employees of state-owned companies, and corrupt payments totaling approximately $220,000 to officers and employees of private companies.”  “[CCI's] state-owned customers included, but were not limited to, Jiangsu Nuclear Power Corporation (“JNPC”)  (China), Guohua Electric Power (China), China Petroleum Materials and Equipment Corporation (“CPMEC”), PetroChina, Dongfang  Electric Corporation (China), China National Offshore Oil Corporation (“CNOOC”), Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (“KHNP”),  Petronas (Malaysia), and National Petroleum Construction Company (“NPCC”) (United Arab Emirates).  Each of these state-owned entities was a department, agency, and instrumentality of a  foreign government, within the meaning of the FCPA. The officers  and employees of these entities, including the Vice-Presidents, Engineering Managers, General Managers, Procurement Managers, and Purchasing Officers, were “foreign officials” within the meaning of the FCPA.”

As noted in the DOJ release (here), Edmonds was charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and the Travel Act, three counts of violating the FCPA and two counts of violating the Travel Act.

Shortly thereafter, CCI resolved an FCPA enforcement action based on the same core set of conduct alleged in the above indictment.  (See here for the prior post).  I noted then, as I had since launching this website in July 2009, that the DOJ’s position that employees of state-owned companies, regardless of position, are “foreign officials” under the FCPA is an unchallenged and untested legal theory – and one I believe is ripe for challenge.

In February 2011 (as noted in this prior post), for the first time in FCPA history, a federal court judge, with the benefit of a detailed and complete overview of the FCPA’s extensive legislative history on the “foreign official” element, was asked to rule on the DOJ’s interpretation that employees of alleged state-owned or state-controlled enterprises are “foreign officials” under the FCPA.  My declaration on the FCPA’s legislative history relevant to “foreign official” (here) was used in the “foreign official” motion to dismiss.

In May 2011 (as noted in this prior post), Judge James Selna denied the “foreign official” motion to dismiss and concluded that “the question of whether state-owned companies qualify as instrumentalities under the FCPA is a question of fact.”  The “foreign official” issue thus moved to the jury instructions (as noted in this prior post).

In February 2012 (as noted in this prior post), Judge Selna issued certain jury instructions.  Not surprisingly, Judge Selna carried forward his previous “instrumentality” analysis into the “instrumentality” jury instruction.  Yet, in a significant development in terms of the future of the case, Judge Selna issued an instruction titled “knowledge of status of foreign official.”  In pertinent part, the instruction stated as follows.

[.....]

“(4) The defendant offered, paid, promised to pay, or authorized the payment of money, or offered, gave, promised to give, or authorized the giving of anything of value to a foreign official;

(5) The payment or gift at issue in element 4 was to (a) a person the defendant knew or believed was a foreign official or (b) any person and the defendant knew that all or a portion of such money or thing of value would be offered, given, or promised (directly or indirectly) to a person the defendant knew or believed to be a foreign official. Belief that an individual was a foreign official does not satisfy this element if the individual was not in fact a foreign official.”

In his order, Judge Selna stated as follows.

“The Government proposes to add the following paragraph to element 5:”

The government need not prove that the defendant knew the legal definition of “foreign official” under the FCPA or knew that the intended recipient of the payment or gift fell within the legal definition. The defendant need not know in what specific official capacity the intended recipient was acting, but the defendant must have known or believed that the intended recipient had authority to act in a certain manner as specified in element 6.”

The Court does not believe that this language is necessary, and it is potentially confusing.”

As noted in this prior post, in April 2012 – a few months prior to trial, Stuart and Hong Carson pleaded guilty to conduct not found in the original indictment.  Pursuant to a plea agreement, Stuart Carson, 73, faces up to 10 months in prison and Rose Carson, 48, faces a sentence of three years probation, which may include up to six months of home confinement.

As noted in this prior post, in late May 2012 – a few weeks prior to trial, Paul Cosgrove (a 65 year old individual who recently underwent emergency heart quadruple bypass surgery) pleaded guilty to conduct not found in the original indictment.  Pursuant to a plea agreement, Cosgrove faces up to 15 months in prison.

Last week - a few weeks prior to his trial, the DOJ announced (here) that Edmonds pleaded guilty to a one-count superseding information charging him with making a corrupt payment to a foreign government official in violation of the FCPA.

Unlike the original indictment, the four page superseding information as to Edmonds (here) focuses solely on Public Power Corporation of Greece (“Public Power”) and states as follows.  “Public Power was a department, agency, and instrumentality of a foreign government with the meaning of the FCPA” and “officers and employees of Public Power were ‘foreign officials’ within the meaning of the FCPA.”  The superseding information then states that “on or about May 15, 2000″ Edmonds “corruptly caused an e-mail to be sent authorizing the payment of approximately $45,000 to officials of Public Power for the purpose of securing Public Power’s business.

For more on Public Power during the general time period alleged in the superceding information, see this Annual Report.

As noted in the DOJ’s release (here), “Edmonds, 59, faces up to 15 months in prison.  Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 19, 2012.”

The Edmonds plea agreement (here) incorporates the substance of Judge Selna’s jury instruction set forth above.  In addition, the plea agreement states as follows.  “Defendant Edmonds understands that at any trial, the government would prove sufficient facts to demonstrate that Public Power was a government instrumentality within the meaning of the FCPA [...] and its employees ‘foreign officials’ within the meaning of the FCPA.”

The plea agreement further states as follows.  “Although defendant Edmonds did not actually know that the approximately $45,000 was to be offered, given, or promised to an employee of Public Power for the purpose of securing Public Power’s business, he was aware of a high probability of this circumstances and failed to make additional inquiries concerning the nature of the commission and the suspected recipient in order to determine whether the proposed commission payment might be made to an employee at Public Power for the purpose of securing Public Power’s business.”  The plea agreement further states as follows.  “Although defendant Edmonds did not know about the prohibitions of the FCPA, defendant Edmonds was aware that the law would forbid making an undisclosed payment to an employee of a customer for the purpose of securing the customer’s business.”

In the plea agreement, Edmonds waived any statute of limitations defenses.

Checking In On The Carson Case

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

This post checks in on the case commonly referred to as the “Carson” case (even though as indicated in this prior post, last month Stuart and Hong Carson pleaded guilty).  This post summarizes the recent superceding information against Paul Cosgrove and his guilty plea.  David Edmonds remains a defendant in the case and is scheduled to go to trial in late June.  This post ends by linking to briefs in connection with the DOJ’s motion to exclude Edmond’s designated experts, including myself, from testifying at trial.

Cosgrove Information and Plea

In April 2009, Paul Cosgrove was criminally charged, along with other defendants who were also former employees of Control Components Inc. (CCI), in a criminal indictment (here) for engaging in ”a conspiracy to secure contracts by paying bribes to officials of foreign state-owned companies as well as officers and employees of foreign and domestic private companies.”

As to Cosgrove, the indictment alleged as follows.  “From in or around 2003 through in or around 2007, defendant Cosgrove caused [CCI's] employees and agents to make corrupt payments totaling approximately $1.9 million to officers and employees of state- owned companies, and corrupt payments totaling approximately $300,000 to officers and employees of private companies.”  “[CCI's] state-owned customers included, but were not limited to, Jiangsu Nuclear Power Corporation (“JNPC”)  (China), Guohua Electric Power (China), China Petroleum Materials and Equipment Corporation (“CPMEC”), PetroChina, Dongfang  Electric Corporation (China), China National Offshore Oil Corporation (“CNOOC”), Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (“KHNP”),  Petronas (Malaysia), and National Petroleum Construction Company (“NPCC”) (United Arab Emirates).  Each of these state-owned entities was a department, agency, and instrumentality of a  foreign government, within the meaning of the FCPA. The officers  and employees of these entities, including the Vice-Presidents, Engineering Managers, General Managers, Procurement Managers, and Purchasing Officers, were “foreign officials” within the meaning of the FCPA.”

As noted in the DOJ release (here), Cosgrove was charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and the Travel Act, six counts of violating the FCPA and one count of violating the Travel Act.

Shortly thereafter, CCI resolved an FCPA enforcement action based on the same core set of conduct alleged in the above indictment.  (See here for the prior post).  I noted then, as I had since launching this website in July 2009, that the DOJ’s position that employees of state-owned companies, regardless of position, are “foreign officials” under the FCPA is an unchallenged and untested legal theory – and one I believe is ripe for challenge.

In February 2011 (as noted in this prior post), for the first time in FCPA history, a federal court judge, with the benefit of a detailed and complete overview of the FCPA’s extensive legislative history on the “foreign official” element, was asked to rule on the DOJ’s interpretation that employees of alleged state-owned or state-controlled enterprises are “foreign officials” under the FCPA.  My declaration on the FCPA’s legislative history relevant to “foreign official” (here) was used in the “foreign official” motion to dismiss.

In May 2011 (as noted in this prior post), Judge James Selna denied the “foreign official” motion to dismiss and concluded that “the question of whether state-owned companies qualify as instrumentalities under the FCPA is a question of fact.”  The “foreign official” issue thus moved to the jury instructions (as noted in this prior post).

In February 2012 (as noted in this prior post), Judge Selna issued certain jury instructions.  Not surprisingly, Judge Selna carried forward his previous “instrumentality” analysis into the “instrumentality” jury instruction.  Yet, in a significant development in terms of the future of the case, Judge Selna issued an instruction titled “knowledge of status of foreign official.”  In pertinent part, the instruction stated as follows.

[.....]

“(4) The defendant offered, paid, promised to pay, or authorized the payment of money, or offered, gave, promised to give, or authorized the giving of anything of value to a foreign official;

(5) The payment or gift at issue in element 4 was to (a) a person the defendant knew or believed was a foreign official or (b) any person and the defendant knew that all or a portion of such money or thing of value would be offered, given, or promised (directly or indirectly) to a person the defendant knew or believed to be a foreign official. Belief that an individual was a foreign official does not satisfy this element if the individual was not in fact a foreign official.”

In his order, Judge Selna stated as follows.

“The Government proposes to add the following paragraph to element 5:”

The government need not prove that the defendant knew the legal definition of “foreign official” under the FCPA or knew that the intended recipient of the payment or gift fell within the legal definition. The defendant need not know in what specific official capacity the intended recipient was acting, but the defendant must have known or believed that the intended recipient had authority to act in a certain manner as specified in element 6.”

The Court does not believe that this language is necessary, and it is potentially confusing.”

Earlier this week, the DOJ announced (here) that Cosgrove “pleaded guilty … before U.S. District Judge James V. Selna in Santa Ana, Calif., to a one-count superseding information charging him with making a corrupt payment to a foreign government official in China in violation of the FCPA.”

Unlike the original indictment, the four page superseding information as to Cosgrove (here) focuses solely on Sichuan Chemical Works Group Ltd. (here) and states as follows.  “Sichuan Chemical was a department, agency, and instrumentality of a foreign government within the meaning of the FCPA [...] the officers and employees of Sichuan Chemical were ‘foreign officials’ within the meaning of the FCPA.”  The superseding information states that in July 2003 “Cosgrove corruptly caused an e-mail to be sent authorizing the payment of approximately $7,500 to officials of Sichuan Chemical for the purpose of securing Sichuan Chemical’s business.”

As noted in the DOJ’s release, “at sentencing, Cosgrove, 65, faces up to 15 months in prison.”  Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 27, 2012.

The Cosgrove plea agreement (here) incorporates the substance of Judge Selna’s jury instruction set forth above.  In addition, the plea agreement states as follows.  “Defendant Cosgrove knew Sichuan Chemical was a Chinese state-owned entity.  Defendant Cosgrove understands that at any trial, the government would prove sufficient facts to demonstrate that Sichuan Chemical was a government instrumentality within the meaning of the FCPA … and its employees ‘foreign officials’ within the meaning of the FCPA.”  As to the $7,500 payment Cosgrove authorized via e-mail, the plea agreement states as follows.  “As a result of this payment, CCI earned profits of approximately $5,625 in connection with the sale of the valve.”

The plea agreement further states as follows.  “Although defendant Cosgrove did not actually know that the $7,500 was to be offered, given, or promised to any employees at Sichuan Chemical for the purpose of securing Sichuan Chemical’s business, he was aware of a high probability of this circumstance and failed to make additional inquiries concerning the nature of the commission and the suspected recipient in order to determine whether the proposed commission payment might be made to an employee at Sichuan Chemical for the purpose of securing Sichuan Chemical’s business.”  The plea agreement further states as follows.  “Although defendant Cosgrove did not know about the prohibitions of the FCPA, defendant Cosgrove was aware that the law would forbid making an undisclosed payment to an employee of a customer for the purpose of securing the customer’s business.”

As set forth in the plea agreement, the advisory Sentencing Guidelines range for the conduct at issue is 10-16 months imprisonment.  The plea agreement states as follows.  “Defendant and the Department of Justice agree that … an appropriate disposition of this case is that the court impose a sentence of:  no more than 15 months imprisonment; three years supervised release …; up to a $20,000 fine; no amount of restitution; and a $100 special assessment.  Defendant reserves the right to seek variance or a downward departure in the offense level based upon defendant’s medical condition.  At sentencing, defendant will present evidence of his medical condition, to include the following:  Defendant has a lengthy history of coronary problems, gastric bleeding, and other serious health issues for which he has received treatment since at least 2003.  On August 16, 2010, defendant underwent emergency heart quadruple bypass surgery and has since been under the treatment and care of his cardiologist to ensure defendant remains in stable condition.”

In the plea agreement, Cosgrove waived any statute of limitations defenses.

Some have called the Cosgrove plea a “big win” and a “victory” for the DOJ (see here and here).  The conclusions are yours to reach.

Expert Issues

See here for the DOJ’s motion to exclude Edmond’s expert witnesses, here for Edmond’s response, and here for the DOJ’s reply.

Judge Selna Rejects State Actor Theory

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

Prior posts (here, here, and here) discussed a motion to suppress and a motion to dismiss brought by various defendants in the Carson matter.  Given the recent guilty pleas of Stuart Carson and Hong Carson (see here), as a practical matter the motions only affected the remaining defendants – Paul Cosgrove and David Edmonds.

In the motion to suppress, defendants moved to suppress statements which they made to attorneys from Steptoe & Johnson during the course of Steptoe’s internal investigation on behalf of Control Components, Inc. and its parent IMI plc.  The theory of the motion was that the Steptoe attorneys were part of the Government’s investigation and therefore state actors.

Judge Selna rejected the state actor theory – see here for his tentative order.  Judge Selna stated as follows.  “As a matter of fact finding, there is no basis to conclude on the basis of events that transpired prior to the interviews or in the aftermath that the Steptoe lawyers were acting as agents of the Government.”  The tentative order states as follows.  “Steptoe contacted the Department of Justice.  [...]  There is no evidence that the Government had any input in the determination of which employees to interview or what they should be asked.  Although [Mark] Mendelsohn [former DOJ FCPA Unit Chief] was advised of the first day of interviews via e-mail, he did not provide guidance or input for the next day’s interviews, and put off discussing the ‘specifics’ of the interviews until the following week.”

Judge Selna further stated as follows.  “The facts here do not establish more than a unilateral determination on the part of CCI and its parent to cooperate with the Government.  Surely, it was in CCI’s interest and a legitimate activity to investigate potential criminal conduct in its business operations.  The Government had no involvement with the Defendants’ interviews, and it cannot be said that Steptoe’s action were so intertwined with the Government that those interviews may be ‘fairly treated’ as the conduct of the Government.  [...]  The record is clear that CCI through its parent IMI had made a decision to conduct an internal investigation before Steptoe contacted the Government.”

*****

Judge Selna also issued a tentative ruling (here) denying defendants’ motion to dismiss the indictment “on a series on individual grounds upon which they claim to have been denied due process and on the basis of the cumulative effect of these individual deficiencies.”

Judge Selna noted that “a number of claims [were] predicated on the theory that Steptoe & Johnson … was the agent of the Government and joint investigator” and that such issues were properly resolved in the above-described tentative order.

As to the Defendants’ assertion that the FCPA and Travel Act lacked clarity, Judge Selna stated that “this is simply a cameo reprise of their earlier attacks on these statutes which the Court addressed at length, and rejected.”

As to the Defendants’ theories regarding denial of access to witnesses, missing documents, and foreign documents, Judge Selna concluded that none of these issues were “attributable to unilateral government action.”  As to Brady issues, Judge Selna concluded that “the Government has used its reasonable efforts to secure materials in the possession of CCI.”

*****

During Monday’s hearing on the motions, Judge Selna indicated that he will soon be issuing formal denials of the motions.  The remaining defendants in the Carson matter – Paul Cosgrove and David Edmonds – are scheduled to stand trial in late June.

Checking In On The Carson Case

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

In April 2009, Stuart and Hong Carson (husband and wife) were criminally charged, along with other defendants who were also former employees of Control Components Inc. (CCI), in a criminal indictment (here) for engaging in ”a conspiracy to secure contracts by paying bribes to officials of foreign state-owned companies as well as officers and employees of foreign and domestic private companies.”

The indictment alleged as follows.

“Company A’s state-owned customers included, but were not limited to, Jiangsu Nuclear Power Corporation (“JNPC”)  (China), Guohua Electric Power (China), China Petroleum Materials and Equipment Corporation (“CPMEC”), PetroChina, Dongfang  Electric Corporation (China), China National Offshore Oil Corporation (“CNOOC”), Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (“KHNP”),  Petronas (Malaysia), and National Petroleum Construction Company (“NPCC”) (United Arab Emirates).  Each of these state-owned entities was a department, agency, and instrumentality of a  foreign government, within the meaning of the FCPA. The officers  and employees of these entities, including the Vice-Presidents, Engineering Managers, General Managers, Procurement Managers, and Purchasing Officers, were “foreign officials” within the meaning of the FCPA.”

As noted in the DOJ release (here), Stuart Carson was charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and the Travel Act, and two counts of violating the FCPA.  Hong Carson was charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and the Travel Act, five counts of violating the FCPA, and one count of destruction of records in connection with a matter within the jurisdiction of a department or agency of the United States.  This latter charge was ultimately dismissed by the DOJ.  As stated in the DOJ release, “in the period from 2003 through 2007, the defendants caused the valve company to pay approximately $4.9 million in bribes, in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), to officials of foreign state-owned companies …”.

Shortly thereafter, Control Components Inc. resolved an FCPA enforcement action based on the same core set of conduct alleged in the above indictment.  (See here for the prior post).  I noted, then, as I had since launching this website in July 2009, that DOJ’s position that employees of state-owned companies, regardless of position, are “foreign officials” under the FCPA is an unchallenged and untested legal theory – and one I believe is ripe for challenge.

In February 2011 (as noted in this prior post), for the first time in FCPA history, a federal court judge, with the benefit of a detailed and complete overview of the FCPA’s extensive legislative history on the “foreign official” element, was asked to rule on the DOJ’s interpretation that employees of alleged state-owned or state-controlled enterprises are “foreign officials” under the FCPA.  My declaration on the FCPA’s legislative history relevant to “foreign official” (here) was used in the “foreign official” motion to dismiss.

In May 2011 (as noted in this prior post), Judge James Selna denied the “foreign official” motion to dismiss and concluded that “the question of whether state-owned companies qualify as instrumentalities under the FCPA is a question of fact.”  The “foreign official” issue thus moved to the jury instructions (as noted in this prior post).

In February 2012 (as noted in this prior post), Judge Selna issued certain jury instructions.  Not surprisingly, Judge Selna carried forward his previous “instrumentality” analysis into the “instrumentality” jury instruction.  Yet, in a significant development in terms of the future of the case, Judge Selna issued an instruction titled “knowledge of status of foreign official.”  In pertinent part, the instruction stated as follows.

[.....]

“(4) The defendant offered, paid, promised to pay, or authorized the payment of money, or offered, gave, promised to give, or authorized the giving of anything of value to a foreign official;

(5) The payment or gift at issue in element 4 was to (a) a person the defendant knew or believed was a foreign official or (b) any person and the defendant knew that all or a portion of such money or thing of value would be offered, given, or promised (directly or indirectly) to a person the defendant knew or believed to be a foreign official. Belief that an individual was a foreign official does not satisfy this element if the individual was not in fact a foreign official.”

In his order, Judge Selna stated as follows.

“The Government proposes to add the following paragraph to element 5:”

The government need not prove that the defendant knew the legal definition of “foreign official” under the FCPA or knew that the intended recipient of the payment or gift fell within the legal definition. The defendant need not know in what specific official capacity the intended recipient was acting, but the defendant must have known or believed that the intended recipient had authority to act in a certain manner as specified in element 6.”

The Court does not believe that this language is necessary, and it is potentially confusing.”

Earlier this week, the DOJ announced (here) that Stuart Carson and Hong Carson “each pleaded guilty … before U.S. District Judge James V. Selna in Santa Ana, Calif., to separate one-count superseding informations charging them with making a corrupt payment to a foreign government official in violation of the FCPA.”

Unlike the original indictment, the four page superseding information as to Stuart Carson (here) focuses solely on Turow Power Plant in Poland and states as follows.  “Turow was a department, agency, and instrumentality of a foreign government, within the meaning of the FCPA, [...].  The officers and employees of Turow were “foreign officials” within the meaning of the FCPA.”  The superseding information states that on March 8, 2000, Stuart Carson “corruptly caused an e-mail to be sent authorizing the payment of approximately $16,000 to officials of Turow for the purpose of securing Turow’s business.”

Unlike the original indictment, the four page superseding information as to Hong Carson (here) focuses solely on Kuosheng Nuclear Power Plant in Taiwan and states as follows.  “Kuoshen was a department, agency, and instrumentality of a foreign government, within the meaning of the FCPA, [...].  The officers and employees of Kuosheng were “foreign officials” within the meaning of the FCPA.  The superseding information states that on August 14, 2002, Hong Carson “corruptly caused an e-mail to be sent authorizing the payment of $40,000 to officials of Kuosheng for the purposes of securing Kuosheng’s business.”

As noted in the DOJ’s release, “at sentencing (Oct. 15, 2012), Stuart Carson, 73, faces up to 10 months in prison.  Rose Carson, 48, faces a sentence of three years probation, which may include up to six months of home confinement.”

The conclusions are yours to reach.

Paul Cosgrove and David Edmonds remain defendants in the case and their trial is scheduled for June.

*****

Previous posts here and here discussed the motion to suppress filed by Cosgrove and Edmonds (joined by Hong Carson) to suppress certain statements made by the individuals to CCI and its counsel (Steptoe & Johnson) on the basis that its counsel were de facto public actors and that CCI’s actions in compelling their statements were “fairly attributable to the government” and ought to be suppressed.

Earlier this week, Judge Selna, whose practice is to issue tentative rulings, tentatively ruled (here), in connection with a subpoena to Steptoe & Johnson, that production must be made as to the following.  “All communications exchanged between Steptoe, IMI, and/or CCI on the one hand, and the United States Department of Justice, on the other hand during the period August 10 through August 25 2007 which relate to interviews of CCI employees, taken or to be taken, for the purpose of investigating actual or suspected violations of the [FCPA and Travel Act].  This includes but is not limited to all e-mails exchanged between Patrick Norton (Steptoe & Johnson) and Mark Mendelsohn (former DOJ FCPA unit chief).  Judge Selna noted that such information “could yield admissible evidence under the defendants’ Government-actor theory of agreements or understanding between Steptoe that would render Steptoe lawyers agents of the Government, specifically the Department of Justice, at the time the interviews of defendants were conducted.”

Judge Selna also issued another tentative ruling (here) regarding various aspects of the subpoena to Steptoe & Johnson that will be of interest to FCPA practitioners.