Archive for the ‘Defense Industry’ Category

Are Transparency International’s Defense Company Rankings Defensible?

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

TIImagine FCPA Professor ranked the “Top FCPA Law Firms” and one factor in the rankings was whether the law firms either donated to FCPA Professor and/or had lawyers “graduate” from the FCPA Institute.

I sure hope you would look askance at such rankings because they are based on subjective factors that have little relevance to the substantive issue being ranked.

Recently Transparency International UK released this ”Defense Companies Anti Corruption Index 2015″ – an index that attempted to “assess the ethics and anticorruption programs of 163 defense companies from 47 countries using publicly available information.”  (See also here).

The only companies to receive an “A” ranking were Bechtel, Fluor, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon.

What’s interesting though is that each of these companies are substantial contributors to Transparency International (“TI”).  (See here).

This of course does not automatically mean that Transparency International had a conflict of interest in ranking these four companies. Perhaps the companies are just really committed to Transparency International regardless of whether its financial contributions to the organization could impact such things as the rankings.

However, contributing and/or belonging to Transparency International did indeed elevate a company’s score in the recent rankings.

Such details are found deep within specific company reports.

For instance this specific company report indicates that a factor impacting the company’s “Leadership, Governance and Organization” score was “based on public information, there is evidence that the company is a member of TI-USA …”.  Similarly, this specific company’s score was elevated because “based on public information, there is evidence that the company …  is a member of Transparency International Norway.”

Transparency International is not the only organization that promotes anti-corruption or business ethics with a significant focus on anti-corruption.  Surely, Transparency International factored in a company’s membership or association with all other reputable groups?

Apparently not.

For instance, this specific company report states:

“Based on public information, there is no readily available evidence that the company belongs to one or more national or international initiatives that promote anti-corruption or business ethics with a significant focus on anti-corruption. TI notes the company’s membership of TRACE, but this alone is insufficient evidence” concerning the question of whether “the company belong to one or more national or international initiatives that promote anti-corruption or business ethics with a significant focus on anti-corruption?”

In short, it is troubling that giving money and/or being a member of Transparency International impacted Transparency International’s recent rankings.  It leaves the impression that Transparency International’s scores are a reflection, at least in part, of cooperation in Transparency International initiatives rather than a strict reflection of a specific company’s compliance efforts.

For prior posts critical of Transparency International rankings, etc. see here, here, here, here and here.

DOJ Brings First Corporate FCPA Enforcement Action Of 2015

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

IAPNo doubt it was a coincidence, but it was hard to ignore the timing.

Hours after the formal conclusion of the DOJ’s latest FCPA trial court debacle in U.S. v. Sigelman (see here, here and here for prior posts), the DOJ announced its first corporate FCPA enforcement action of 2015.

The enforcement action was against IAP Worldwide Services, Inc. (a small Florida-based company that provides facilities management, contingency operations, and professional and technical services in contracting capacities to the U.S. military and other governmental agencies world-wide).

According to its website, approximately 30% of IAP’s workers are veterans and the company was recently recognized by U.S. Veterans Magazine’s as one of the Top Veteran-Friendly Companies in 2014.  IAP has several contracts with the U.S. Government including the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and Air Force.

Per the DOJ’s allegations, the improper conduct occurred 7-10 years ago and was engaged in by one individual at IAP who left the company approximately 7 years ago.

The allegations focus on James Rama who was IAP’s Vice President of Special Project and Programs between 2005 and 2007. Prior to arriving at IAP, Rama, while employed in Kuwait by a large American defense contractor not affiliated with IAP, was introduced to a Kuwaiti Consultant and learned that the Kuwaiti Ministry of the Interior (MOI) was planning to build a large-scale homeland security systems called the KSP.

When Rama joined IAP he began pursuing Phase I of the KSP contract on behalf of IAP as well as the more lucrative Phase II of the KSP project.  According to the DOJ, Rama and others formed Ramaco International Consulting LLC “to hide IAP’s involvement in the KSP bidding and contracting process.”

According to the DOJ:

“In or about November 2005, IAP (through Rama) received non-public indications that the MOI would select it for the Phase I contract, although the formal bidding process had not yet begun. In February 2006, at the direction of the MOI and Kuwaiti Consultant, Rama and others agreed to and did set up Ramaco as a shell company to “bid” on the Phase I contract. One purpose of setting up Ramaco was to allow IAP to hide its involvement in Phase I and participate in the later Phase II without any apparent conflict of interest. Ramaco began acting as the agent for IAP on the KSP.

IAP agreed with the MOI that it would perform the KSP Phase I contract for approximately $4 million. Of that amount, IAP agreed that half, or approximately $2 million, would not be for actual work executing the KSP Phase I contract, but instead would be diverted to Kuwaiti Consultant.

In or about 2006, IAP, Ramaco, Rama, and others structured an illicit payment scheme to funnel approximately 50% of the payments received on the Phase I contract to Kuwaiti Consultant so that he could pay bribes to Kuwaiti government officials and took numerous steps to hide these payments and prevent the detection of their scheme. IAP, Ramaco, and Rama understood that to pay Kuwaiti Consultant, Kuwaiti Company would first inflate its invoices to IAP by charging IAP for the total amount of both the legitimate services that Kuwaiti Company was providing and the payments that Kuwaiti Company was funneling to Kuwaiti Consultant without listing or otherwise disclosing the payments that were funneled to Kuwaiti Consultant. After the MOI paid Ramaco for work on the KSP Phase I contract, Ramaco would transfer funds to a bank account of IAP, and IAP would then transfer funds to Kuwaiti Company. IAP, Ramaco, and Rama knew that Kuwaiti Company was then paying Kuwaiti Consultant approximately 50% of the KSP Phase I contract amount. IAP, Ramaco, and Rama knew that these payments to Kuwaiti Consultant were often further disguised.

In or about April 2006, Ramaco opened a bank account in Kuwait for Ramaco that would be used, in part, to pay Kuwaiti Consultant a portion of the money that IAP and Ramaco received from the KSP Phase I contract.

On or about May 10, 2006, Rama signed the KSP Phase I contract between Ramaco and the Government of Kuwait, which included a markup of approximately $2 million that would be kicked back, in whole or in part, to Kuwaiti government officials through Kuwaiti Consultant.

On or about September 19, 2006, IAP wired KD 120,000 (approximately $420,000) from its bank account to Kuwaiti Company’s bank account, and, on or about that same day, Kuwaiti Company paid that amount to Kuwaiti Consultant.

In or about October 2006, employees of IAP and G3 met with Rama and others at IAP’s office in Arlington, Virginia, which is in the Eastern District of Virginia, in an effort to persuade IAP to continue making payments to Kuwaiti Consultant.

On or about October 18, 2006, IAP wired KD 63,000 (approximately $220,500) from its bank account to Kuwaiti Company’s bank account, and, on or about that same day, Kuwaiti Company paid that amount to Kuwaiti Consultant.

On or about June 5, 2007, IAP wired KD 29,962.27 (approximately $105,000) from its bank account in the United States to Kuwaiti Company’s bank account in Kuwait so that Kuwaiti Company could pay Kuwaiti Consultant, and, on or about June 13, 2007, IAP wired that amount from its bank account in the United States to Kuwaiti Company’s bank account.

On or about December 6, 2007, Ramaco paid Kuwaiti Consultant KD 52,250 (approximately $183,000). 22. On or about March 10, 2008, Ramaco paid Kuwaiti Consultant KD 44,250 (approximately $155,000).

Between September 2006 and March 2008, IAP and its co-conspirators paid Kuwaiti Consultant at least KD 509,625 (approximately $1,783,688) on the understanding that some or all of that money would be provided as bribes to Kuwaiti government officials to assist IAP in obtaining and retaining the KSP Phase I contract and to obtain the KSP Phase II contract.”

The above allegations were resolved via a non-prosecution agreement in which IAP agreed to pay”a monetary penalty in the present value amount of $7.1 million”.  Pursuant to the NPA, the penalty is to be paid in four yearly installments of $1.775 million. The NPA, which has a three year term, states as follows:

“Among the facts considered were the following: (a) the Company has cooperated with the Offices, including conducting an extensive internal investigation, voluntarily making U.S. and foreign employees available for interviews, and collecting, analyzing, and organizing voluminous evidence and information for the Offices; (b) the Company has engaged in remediation, including disciplining the officers and employees responsible for the corrupt payments or terminating their employment, enhancing its due diligence protocol for third-party agents and consultants, and instituting heightened review of proposals and other transactional documents for relevant Company contracts; (c) the Company has committed to continue to enhance its compliance program and internal controls, including ensuring that its compliance program satisfies the minimum elements set forth in Attachment C to this Agreement; and (d) the Company has agreed to continue to cooperate with the Offices in any ongoing investigation of the conduct of the Company and its officers, directors, employees, agents, and consultants relating to possible violations under investigation by the Offices.”

As noted in the DOJ’s release:

“[The] non-prosecution agreement requires IAP to conduct a review of its existing internal controls, policies and procedures, and make any necessary modifications to ensure that the company maintains accurate record keeping and a rigorous anti-corruption compliance program.  The non-prosecution agreement further requires IAP to report periodically to the Criminal Division and to the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Virginia regarding remediation and implementation of the aforementioned compliance program and internal controls, policies and procedures.”

Typical of most corporate FCPA enforcement actions, the NPA contains a “muzzle clause” in which IAP agreed that it shall not directly or indirectly make any public statement contradicting the information set forth in the NPA.

Based on the same core conduct alleged in the NPA, the DOJ announced a plea agreement with James Rama to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA.  See here for the plea agreement, here for the Statement of Facts, and here for the criminal information.

For additional coverage of the enforcement action see here from Reuters.


BAE – The Non-Bribery Bribery Allegations

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

Back in law school, a professor was fond of the phrase ““if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, looks like a duck, it must be a duck.”

Among other allegations, DOJ’s criminal information (here) against BAE alleges that BAE served as the “prime contractor to the U.K. government following the conclusion of a Formal Understanding between the U.K. and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (“KSA”)” in which BAE sold to the U.K. government, which then in turn sold to the Saudi government several Tornado and Hawk aircraft, “along with other military hardware, training and services.” The information refers to these frequent arrangements as the “KSA Fighter Deals.”

In connection these deals, the information alleges that “BAE provided substantial benefits to one KSA public official, who was in a position of influence regarding the KSA Fighter Deals (the “KSA Official”), and to the KSA Official’s associates.” The indictment alleges that BAE “provided these benefits through various payment mechanisms both in the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S. and elsewhere.”


This allegation is important from an FCPA perspective because the FCPA only applies to a company like BAE (a foreign company with no shares listed on a U.S. exchange) if conduct in furtherance of a bribery scheme has a U.S. nexus. See 78dd-3. [BAE does have a wholly-owned U.S. subsidiary - a "domestic concern" under the FCPA - but the information states that this entity was not involved in the conduct alleged in the information].

In addition, the information contains additional allegations which clearly demonstrate that BAE’s bribery scheme had a U.S. nexus. For instance, the information alleges that BAE “provided support services to [the] KSA Official while in the territory of the U.S.” and that these benefits “included the purchase of travel and accommodations, security services, real estate, automobiles and personal items.” The information alleges that over $5 million in invoices for benefits provided to the KSA Official were submitted by just one BAE employee during a one year period.


The information also alleges that BAE “used intermediaries and shell entities to conceal payments to certain advisers who were assisting in the solicitation, promotion and otherwise endeavoring to secure the conclusion or maintenance of the KSA Fighter Deals.”

Specifically, the information alleges that “in connection with the KSA Fighter Deals, BAE agreed to transfer sums totaling more than £10,000,00 and more than $9,000,000 to a bank account in Switzerland controlled by an intermediary. BAE was aware that there was a high probability that the intermediary would transfer part of these payments to the KSA Official.”

Such “high probability” language is a direct quote from the FCPA’s so-called third party payment provisions which prohibit making improper payments to any person “while knowing that all or a portion” of the money will be given to a foreign official in order to obtain or retain business. The FCPA specifically provides that “[w]hen knowledge of the existence of a particular circumstance is required for an offense, such knowledge is established if a person is aware of a high probability of the existence of such circumstance, unless the person actually believes that such circumstance does not exist.”

In order words, the “high probability” language used in the BAE criminal information is no mere coincidence. In fact, that language (i.e. a company was aware that there was a high probability that the intermediary would transfer part of its payments to a foreign official) is frequently used by the DOJ in resolving FCPA antibribery actions.

For instance, in the InVision FCPA enforcement action, the “investigations by the DOJ and SEC revealed that InVision, through the conduct of certain employees, was aware of a high probability that its agents or distributors” in Thailand, China and the Philippines “had paid or offered to pay money to foreign officials or political parties in connection with transactions or proposed transactions for the sale by InVision of its airport security screening machines.” (See here). Specifically, the non-prosecution agreement (here) notes that: (i) InVision “was aware of a high probability that part of the source of funds” to an agent was to be used by the agent “to fund an offer to promise to make payments” to Thai officials; (ii) InVision authorized a payment to an agent “with awareness of a high probability” that the agent “intended to use part of that payment to influence” Chinese officials; and (iii) InVision sought authorization for a payment to an agent “with awareness of a high probability that” the agent “intended to use part of that payment to influence officials of the government of the Philippines” – all in an effort to obtain or retain business for InVision.


Yet, the DOJ’s criminal information merely charges one count of conspiracy and it lacks any FCPA antibribery charges. Moreover, the conspiracy charge relates only to “making certain false, inaccurate and incomplete statements to the U.S. government and failing to honor certain undertakings given to the U.S. government, thereby defrauding the United States” and “caus[ing] to be filed export license applications with [various U.S. government entities] that omitted a material fact” concerning fee and commission payments.” Among the false statements BAE is alleged to have made to the U.S. government is its commitment to not knowingly violate the FCPA.

This is the only mention of the FCPA in the information despite the above allegations concerning the KSA Fighter Deals – facts which clearly implicate the FCPA’s antibribery provisions.

In other words, NO DUCK!

For a prior post on BAE (see here).


Friday, February 5th, 2010

In a joint enforcement action that is sure to generate much discussion and controversy, the U.K. Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and the U.S. DOJ announced today resolution of an enforcement action against BAE Systems.

The SFO announced (here) that it has “reached an agreement with BAE systems that the company will plead guilty” to the offense of “failing to keep reasonably accurate accounting records in relation to its activities in Tanzania.”

BAE’s press release (here) notes that “[i]n connection with the sale of a radar system by the Company to Tanzania in 1999, the Company made commission payments to a marketing adviser and failed to accurately record such payments in its accounting records. The Company failed to scrutinise these records adequately to ensure that they were reasonably accurate and permitted them to remain uncorrected. The Company very much regrets and accepts full responsibility for these past shortcomings.”

The SFO and company release note that BAE will pay a £30 million penalty “comprising a fine to be determined by the Court with the balance paid as a charitable payment for the benefit of Tanzania.”

In a strange turn of events, the SFO also announced (here) that it has withdrawn charges filed last week (see here) against a former agent charged with “conspiracy to corrupt” and for “conspiring with others to give or agree to give corrupt payments [...] to unknown officials and other agents of certain Eastern and Central European governments, including the Czech Republic, Hungary and Austria as inducements to secure, or as rewards for having secured, contracts from those governments for the supply of goods to them, namely SAAB/Gripen fighter jets, by BAE Systems Plc.”

The SFO release notes that “[t]his decision brings to an end the SFO’s investigations into BAE’s defence contracts.”

So what happened to the charges and allegations involving certain Eastern and Central European governments, including the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Austria?

Good question.

Much like the wave of magician’s wand, they have simply disappeared.

Closer to home, the DOJ announced that it:

“filed a criminal charge (here) in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against BAE Systems plc charging that the multinational defense contractor conspired to impede the lawful functions of the Departments of Defense and State, made false statements to the Departments of Defense and Justice about establishing an effective anti-corruption compliance program to ensure conformance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and paid hundreds of millions of dollars in undisclosed commission payments in violation of U.S. export control laws.”

The DOJ and BAE release note that the company “will pay a fine of $400 million and make additional commitments concerning its ongoing compliance.”

According to the DOJ release (which is available through the DOJ Office of Public Affairs, but not yet publicly posted on DOJ’s website) “BAE Systems is charged with intentionally failing to put appropriate, anti-bribery preventative measures in place, contrary to the representations it made to the United States government, and then making hundreds of millions of dollars in payments to third parties, while knowing of a high probability that money would be passed on to foreign government decision makers to favor BAE in the award of defense contracts. BAE Systems allegedly failed to disclose these payments to the State Department, as it was required to do so under U.S. laws and regulations in order to get necessary export licenses.”

The bold language above would expose most companies to an FCPA enforcement action, but BAE is no ordinary company. It is a major defense contractor on both sides of the Atlantic (as noted in the criminal information “in 2008, BAE was the largest defense contractor in Europe and the fifth largest in the U.S. as measured by sales”).

You can bet that these charges were the subject of much negotiation so as to not upset current or future government contracts as well as foreign policy issues and concerns.

The BAE charges and thus similar to those against Siemens in December 2008. In that case, despite the company engaging in bribery “unprecedented in scale and geographic scope” and despite the company being one in which “bribery was nothing less than standard operating procedure” (both direct DOJ quotes), the company avoided FCPA antibribery charges. (See here for prior posts about Siemens).

These two cases seriously raise the issue of whether certain companies in certain industries are simply “above” the FCPA.

Can the enforcement agencies on both sides of the Atlantic say with a straight face that this case was merely about improper record keeping, making false statements to the government, and export licenses?

Transparency, corporate accountability, and indeed a criminal justice system all suffered setbacks today.

The FCPA suffered a black-eye as well and one would be right to ask, “what the heck is going on here!”