Archive for the ‘Dick Cheney’ Category

Friday Roundup

Friday, December 24th, 2010

Save the date, Halliburton speaks on Nigeria, and the SEC’s first non-prosecution agreement … it’s all here in the Friday roundup.

Save the Date

FCPA enforcement 2010 is coming to a close. The three most significant events from 2010? The three most interesting events from 2010? And a bold prediction?

That is my task on December 29th when I participate in Securities Docket’s annual “Year in Review” webcast slated for 1 p.m. EST. The webcast is free and you can sign up here.

Other participants who address the same questions as to their area of expertise include Compliance Week editor Matt Kelly, Francine McKenna (re: The Auditors), Francis Pileggi (Delaware corporate law guru), Kevin LaCroix (The D&O Diary), Tracy Coenen (The Fraud Files), Lyle Roberts (The 10b-5 Daily) and Securities Docket’s Bruce Carton.

Halliburton Statement on Nigeria Charges

In last week’s Friday roundup, it was noted that Nigeria dropped charges against Dick Cheney after his former employer, Halliburton, reportedly agreed to pay a $250 million fine. According to various media reports, the sum consisted of $120 million in penalties and the repatriation of $130 million.

A Halliburton spokesman was quoted as saying “we have no comment to make on this.”

Halliburton has now spoken and its statement (here) contradicts the widely reported $250 million figure. The statement reads, in full, as follows:

“Halliburton announced today the resolution of the previously disclosed investigation by the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) arising out of allegations of improper payments to government officials in Nigeria in connection with the construction and subsequent expansion by a joint venture known as TSKJ of a natural gas liquefaction project on Bonny Island, Nigeria, in which Halliburton’s former subsidiary KBR, Inc. had an approximate 25 percent interest. Pursuant to this agreement, all lawsuits and charges against KBR and Halliburton corporate entities and associated persons have been withdrawn, the FGN agreed not to bring any further criminal charges or civil claims against those entities or persons, and Halliburton agreed to pay US$32.5 million to the FGN and to pay an additional US$2.5 million for FGN’s attorneys’ fees and other expenses. Among other provisions, Halliburton agreed to provide reasonable assistance in the FGN’s effort to recover amounts frozen in a Swiss bank account of a former TSKJ agent and affirmed a continuing commitment with regard to corporate governance. Any charges related to this settlement will be reflected in discontinued operations.”

SEC’s First Non-Prosecution Agreement

In January 2010, the SEC announced a series of measures (see here) “to further strengthen its enforcement program by encouraging greater cooperation from individuals and companies in the agency’s investigations and enforcement actions.”

“New cooperation tools” not previously available to the SEC, include, among other things:

* “Cooperation Agreements — Formal written agreements in which the Enforcement Division agrees to recommend to the Commission that a cooperator receive credit for cooperating in investigations or related enforcement actions if the cooperator provides substantial assistance such as full and truthful information and testimony.”

* “Deferred Prosecution Agreements — Formal written agreements in which the Commission agrees to forego an enforcement action against a cooperator if the individual or company agrees, among other things, to cooperate fully and truthfully and to comply with express prohibitions and undertakings during a period of deferred prosecution.”

and

* “Non-prosecution Agreements — Formal written agreements, entered into under limited and appropriate circumstances, in which the Commission agrees not to pursue an enforcement action against a cooperator if the individual or company agrees, among other things, to cooperate fully and truthfully and comply with express undertakings.”

The SEC release noted that “similar cooperation tools have been regularly and successfully used by the Justice Department in its criminal investigations and prosecutions.”

Earlier this week, the SEC announced (here) its first non-prosecution agreement against Carter’s Inc. related to enforcement action against its former Executive Vice President (Joseph M. Elles) for engaging in financial fraud and insider trading.

The SEC’s announcement states as follows:

“The SEC also announced that it has entered a non-prosecution agreement with Carter’s under which the Atlanta-based company will not be charged with any violations of the federal securities laws relating to Elles’s unlawful conduct. The non-prosecution agreement reflects the relatively isolated nature of the unlawful conduct, Carter’s prompt and complete self-reporting of the misconduct to the SEC, its exemplary and extensive cooperation in the investigation, including undertaking a thorough and comprehensive internal investigation, and Carter’s extensive and substantial remedial actions. This marks the first non-prosecution agreement entered by the SEC since the announcement of the SEC’s new cooperation initiative earlier this year.”

The NPA (here) is similar to DOJ NPAs and DPAs in the FCPA context. Carter’s agreed to cooperate in the investigation of its former employee and any other related enforcement action and Carter’s is prohibited from making any public statement contrary to the factual basis of the agreement (notwithstanding that the NPA does not contain a factual basis or a statement of facts). The NPA specifically states that the agreement should not “be deemed exoneration of [Carter's] or be construed as a finding by the Commission that no violation of the federal securities laws have occurred.”

Although the Carter NPA is not in an FCPA enforcement action, it is likely that NPAs (and DPAs) will be frequently used by the SEC (as they are by the DOJ) in the FCPA context.

As I note in the “Facade of FCPA Enforcement” (here), DOJ NPAs and DPAs have exploded in recent years and the “lions share” of these agreements are used to resolve FCPA enforcement actions. Many observers believe that NPAs and DPAs have taken the place of declinations and that companies are pressured to enter into such agreements prematurely even before each element of the relevant charge is established.

With the SEC now using such alternative resolution vehicles, the end result will be even less judicial scrutiny (not that there is much judicial scrutiny at present) as to SEC interpretations of the FCPA and whether factual evidence actually exists to support each element of an FCPA charge.

Friday Roundup

Friday, December 17th, 2010

Nigeria drops charges against Dick Cheney after Halliburton reportedly pays $250 million; James Giffen is sad, though not bitter; an Iraqi Oil for Food prosecution … in Scotland; International Anti-Corruption Day is “marred”; and another voice joins “the FCPA simply means what the enforcement agencies say it means” chorus … it’s all here in the Friday Roundup.

Charges Against Cheney in Nigeria Dropped

On December 7th, Nigerian authorities apparently filed criminal charges against Dick Cheney, and others, in connection with the Bonny Island bribery scheme. As discussed in this prior post, Cheney was CEO of Halliburton from 1995 until 2000. In February 2009, Halliburton, Kellogg Brown & Root LLC, and KBR Inc. agreed to pay $579 million in combined DOJ/SEC FCPA enforcement action to resolve charges related to Bonny Island. According to the DOJ, the improper conduct took place between 1994 and 2004. The case remains the largest ever FCPA enforcement action against a U.S. company.

Farida Mzamber Waziri, the executive chairwomen of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission stated, “Dick Cheney was head of Halliburton” “There’s no way such amount of money would’ve been moved to bribe Nigeria without his approval and without his knowledge, this is what we’re saying.” (See here for a video).

In a swift conclusion to the matter, it is been reported (see here among other places) that Nigeria has dropped charges against Cheney after his former employer, Halliburton, agreed to pay a $250 million fine. According to the report, the sum consists of $120 million in penalties and the repatriation of $130 million.

According to this report in the U.K. Telegraph, former U.S. President George H.W. Bush and former Secretary of State James Baker helped in the negotiations.

A Halliburton spokesman is quoted as saying “we have no comment to make on this.”

Sad, But Not Bitter

David Glovin (Bloomberg) recently sat down with James Giffen and penned this article. For more on the Giffen enforcement action and its mysterious conclusion see here for numerous prior posts.

Giffen is sad, though not bitter about what he terms the DOJ’s “selective” prosecution of him and he asks “in whose interest was the investigation in the first place.” Given Giffen’s “public authority” defense, much of the case focused on classified documents. Not even Giffen’s lawyer, William Schwartz (here) had access to many of the documents – one person did and that was Judge William Pauley (S.D.N.Y.) “who made his feelings known.” (see here).

Wehr Group

Glasgow, Scotland based engineering firm Wehr Group plc (here) recently pleaded guilty to two charges of breaching UN sanctions in connection with a number of UN sanctioned Iraqi Oil for Food contracts awarded between 2000 and 2002. As noted in the company’s release (here), “following the guilty plea, Weir has been subject to a confiscation order in the sum of £13,945,962. In addition it has been fined £3 million.” For more see here.

International Anti-Corruption Day “Marred”

Raymond Baker (here), the Director of Global Financial Integrity, says here that “this year’s International Anti-Corruption Day [was] marred by a U.S. Chamber of Commerce attempt to weaken the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.” In November, the Chamber released a paper (here) authored by Andrew Weissman and Alixandra Smith titled “Restoring Balance – Proposed Amendments to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.”

According to Baker, “the short answer” to various issues raised by the current era of FCPA enforcement is simple: “don’t bribe anyone, whether she/he is a public official, a private citizen, or someone in between.”

Gee, thanks for that guidance, problem solved!

The FCPA’s Big Lesson

Richard Cassin, creator of the FCPA Blog and a pioneer of the FCPA’s blogosphere, hit the ball out of the park with this recent column for Ethisphere.

Among other things, Cassin writes as follows: “I know there’s practically no FCPA-related case law, no precedent to follow, no stare decisis to light the way. So the FCPA is pretty much what the enforcement agencies say it is. And that’s what’s so very different and difficult about it. It’s what I call the FCPA’s Big Lesson.”

*****

A good weekend to all.

Cheney Reportedly To Be Charged By Nigerian Authorities In Connection With Bonny Island

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

During Tuesday’s Senate subcommittee FCPA hearing, Senator Christopher Coons noted, in connection with other nations ramping up enforcement of their own bribery laws, that “today we are the only nation that is extending extraterritorial reach and going after the citizens of other countries, we may some day find ourselves on the receiving end of such transnational actions.”

Prescient statement.

Bloomberg is reporting (here) that Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission will soon files charges against former Vice President Dick Cheney and officials from five foreign companies, including Halliburton Co., in connection with the Bonny Island bribery scheme.

Bloomberg reports that indictments will be filed in a Nigeria court and that an arrest warrant for Cheney “will be issued and transmitted through Interpol” for enforcement. As noted by Bloomberg, Cheney was CEO of Halliburton from 1995 until 2000.

In February 2009, Halliburton, Kellogg Brown & Root LLC, and KBR Inc. agreed to pay $579 million in combined DOJ/SEC FCPA enforcement action to resolve charges related to Bonny Island. According to the DOJ, the improper conduct took place between 1994 and 2004. The case remains the largest ever FCPA enforcement action against a U.S. company.

See here for the DOJ resolution and here for the SEC resolution.

The DOJ’s press release (here) states that the “successful prosecution of KBR [...] demonstrates that no one is above the law” and that the FBI “will continue to investigate these matters by working in partnership with other law enforcement agencies, both foreign and domestic, to ensure that corporate executives who have been found guilty of bribing foreign officials in return for lucrative business contracts, are punished to the full extent of the law.”

Over the summer, Technip and Snamprogetti/Eni, joint venture partners with KBR, also agreed to settle FCPA enforcement actions in connection with Bonny Island.

Technip agreed to pay $338 million in a joint DOJ / SEC enforcement action (see here and here).

Snamprogetti/ENI agreed to pay $365 million in a joint DOJ / SEC enforcement action (see here and here).

The fourth joint venture partner, JGC of Japan, has yet to resolve its exposure although it has been reported that it is settlement discussions with the DOJ.

For a complete run-down of “Bonny Island Bribery Club Statistics” see here.

The only individual charged thus far has been Albert Jack Stanley (see here). Stanley pleaded guilty and was originally scheduled to be sentenced in May 2009, but has not yet been sentenced.

Two joint venture agents, Jeffrey Tesler and Wojciech Chodan (both U.K. citizens) have also been charged (see here). Tesler and Chodan have been fighting extradition.

Yesterday, the U.K. Guardian (here) reported that Chodan, who had given up his extradition battle, is to arrive in the U.S. in the next 10 days to stand trial. The Guardian reports that Tesler will seek to overturn his extradition today.