Archive for the ‘Due Diligence’ Category

Can We Bring Quality FCPA Compliance and Investigative Services to the Underserved Middle Market?

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Today’s post is from David Simon (Foley & Lardner).

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Professor Koehler (my former colleague at Foley & Lardner) has been critical of “FCPA Inc.” and, in particular, the astronomical costs associated with certain FCPA investigations and compliance measures.  My friends in the C-Suite of FCPA Inc. have responded defensively – reacting at least in part to a perception that these criticisms suggest a corner-cutting approach to important work that must be done properly.

As an FCPA lawyer with a foot in both camps, let me try to find some common ground.

I share Mike’s concerns.  While I understand that each case is different and that it is often necessary for investigating counsel to respond to outside forces that drive up costs, some of the eye-popping numbers can’t help but make one question the FCPA investigation/compliance value proposition.

This dynamic is especially troubling because, I fear, it drives the perception among many smaller and mid-sized companies that anti-bribery compliance is simply out of reach financially.  A recent survey of global corruption compliance in the middle market conducted by McGladrey confirms that this segment of the market is underserved.  That is dangerous and bad for all the interested parties – including the DOJ and SEC.  It simply isn’t good public policy for sound FCPA compliance advice and investigative resources to be available only to the Exxon Mobils of the world.

That said, the quality of the work should not be compromised by maintaining some focus on the value proposition.  Corner-cutting is not appropriate (and is almost never in the company’s long-term interests).  But aren’t there ways to manage costs and still produce quality work?  The answer is clearly yes.  And while the options for delivering more for less are myriad, let me propose three fairly modest concepts, which, if implemented, would help bring quality FCPA representation to many more companies that really need it:

1.         Give Strong but Practical Compliance Advice

We can start by heeding the counsel of the SEC and DOJ in last year’s Resource Guide:

  •  “DOJ and SEC have no formulaic requirements regarding compliance programs.  Rather, they employ a common-sense and pragmatic approach to evaluating compliance programs.”
  • “[T]here is no one-size-fits all program. . . . Indeed, small-and medium-sized enterprises likely will have different compliance programs from large multi-national corporations, a fact DOJ and SEC take into account when evaluating companies’ compliance programs.”

In other words, take it seriously, but be practical.  And take a risk-based approach to FCPA compliance.

In a world where FCPA compliance was the company’s number one focus (above and beyond making and selling stuff), a company would conduct “Full Monty” due diligence on all of its distributors (maybe even its customers).  It would employ a rigorous system for reviewing all gifts, meals and entertainment expenses in excess of $25.  (After all, $25 is a lot of money to a customs official in Borneo . . .)  It would conduct annual compliance audits of the books and records of all of its third-party intermediaries.

But really, does that approach make sense for most of our clients?  While there may be companies that have a risk profile that justifies these procedures, for many – indeed, the vast majority –  such an approach is simply impractical.  Let’s not make the perfect the enemy of the good.

To lawyers and compliance professionals:  Be practical. Be willing to sign-off on compliance procedures that are effective but tailored to the actual risk posed.  Don’t be afraid to divert from “best practices” when best practices are not risk justified.  Take a stand.  But be prepared to defend your decisions.

And to the enforcement agencies.  Be true to your word.  “[D]o not hold companies to a standard of perfection.” Accept common sense compliance judgments, even when things ultimately go wrong.

2.         Appropriately Scope FCPA and Bribery Investigations

When a company discovers conduct that may violate the FCPA or company policies, an investigation is necessary.  It never makes sense for a company to ignore such a discovery.  You are simply not serious about compliance if you do not take steps to understand what happened, why, how, and to respond appropriately.  The enforcement agencies are entirely justified in requiring this and in taking companies to account for failing to investigate and respond to indications of wrongdoing.

The problem for many companies is that they hear the words “FCPA investigation” and think millions of dollars – or tens of millions, or hundreds of millions – in costs and fees.  Too often, this leads companies to make the bad decision to forgo an investigation altogether.

But just as there is no “one-size-fits-all” FCPA compliance program, there is no “one-size-fits-all” FCPA investigation.  Proportionality and reasonableness are key.

The main driver of investigation cost is scope.  FCPA investigations that spin out of control usually do so because the scope is never clearly defined at the outset or because of significant scope-creep during the investigation.  Think about our country’s history with Independent Counsel investigations.  Without a clear, narrowly defined mandate, investigations can go on interminably.  Investigators investigate.  There is always some new lead to pursue, another witness to interview, another document to request and review.

The investigation scope needs to be reasonable and appropriately calibrated to the issues under investigation.  Scope must be clearly defined, and the investigator must keep the scope front of mind.  Discipline is key.

This is not to say that the scope should never change once defined.  Often, new significant facts are discovered and new issues identified.  Many times, these developments warrant a modification to the scope.  But those decisions should be approached thoughtfully and intentionally.  Scope modification is not the same thing as scope-creep.

Appropriately scoped investigations cost less.  Companies with limited legal and compliance resources can access quality investigative services and can fulfill the agencies’ directive that “companies should have in place an efficient, reliable, and properly funded process for investigating the allegation and documenting the company’s response.”

To the SEC and DOJ:  To make this work, you need to apply these same common-sense principles to your assessment of company investigations.  Be reasonable.  To outside auditors assessing the company’s response:  Ditto.

3.         Disaggregation of Services in FCPA and Bribery Investigations

One final modest idea to manage the cost of FCPA investigations:  Consider disaggregating services.

It is not necessary to have high-priced lawyers conduct every aspect of every investigation.  In the health care industry, they refer to “working at the top of your license.”  In other words, to enhance the efficiency of the provision of care, each professional should be put to his or her highest and best use.  Move the work down the chain of training and expertise where appropriate.  Application of the same concept in FCPA investigations can have the same pro-efficiency effect.

As a preliminary matter, it isn’t necessary for a company to hire outside counsel to conduct every FCPA investigation.  There are certainly some situations where the exclusive deployment of inside investigative resources is appropriate.

Even when outside counsel properly leads the investigation, the lead investigator should consider non-traditional deployment of resources so that everyone on the team is being put to his or her highest and best use.  A couple of examples:

Consider enlisting internal company resources to accomplish some investigative tasks.  Under the right circumstances, company IT personnel can help gather and process data for the investigation; internal audit or finance resources can help with the analysis of the books and records; and in-house counsel can perform certain investigative tasks.  Independence and perceptions of independence must be taken into consideration in every case, of course.  In some investigations, it won’t be appropriate to involve company personnel.  But in some, it will be entirely reasonable and appropriate.  And where it is, there will be substantial cost savings.

In addition, investigative counsel should consider outsourcing or alternative-sourcing aspects of the investigation.  Document review is an obvious example.  Consider using data review software to cull the relevant documents that warrant review.  (It is noteworthy that DOJ recently approved the use of this approach in the AB InBev/Grupo Modelo merger review.  If it works in antitrust, why not FCPA investigations?)  This can save hundreds of hours of lawyer and staff time.  It also often makes sense to outsource document review.  There are a number of firms that conduct quality document review at a much lower cost than using attorneys (even contract attorneys.)  I personally have used Novus Law, a document-related discovery firm, to handle all of the document review, management and analysis on a couple of document-heavy FCPA investigations.  They do an outstanding job (no quality compromises) at a fraction of the cost.

These are just a few ideas for changing the way we provide compliance and investigative services to give better access to these critical services to more companies.  How we do this is less important than that we do it.

Parker Drilling Resolves FCPA Enforcement Action Involving Conduct In Nigeria

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

It’s been quite a week on the FCPA enforcement front.

On Monday, the DOJ announced (here) criminal obstruction of justice charges against “Frederic Cilins a French citizen [for] attempting to obstruct an ongoing investigation into whether a mining company paid bribes to win lucrative mining rights in the Republic of Guinea.”

Yesterday, it was reported (here) that former Siemens executive Uriel Sharef had, as expected, settled the SEC enforcement action against him by agreeing, without admitting or denying the SEC’s allegations, to pay a $275,000 penalty.  (See here for the prior post discussing the DOJ’s and SEC’s December 2011 charges against Sharef and others).

Yesterday, the DOJ announced (here) that criminal charges “have been unsealed against one current and one former executive of the U.S. subsidiary of a French power and transportation company for their alleged participation in a scheme to pay bribes to foreign government officials.”  The individuals are:

Frederic Pierucci (“a current company executive who previously held the position of vice president of global sales for the Connecticut-based U.S. subsidiary) “who was charged in an indictment unsealed in the District of Connecticut with conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and to launder money, as well as substantive charges of violating the FCPA and money laundering.”  According to the DOJ, Pierucci, a French national, was arrested Sunday night at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

David Rothschild (“a former vice president of sales for the Connecticut-based U.S. subsidiary”) who pleaded guilty on Nov. 2, 2012, to a criminal information charging one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA.  The charges against Rothschild and his guilty plea were recently unsealed.

Future posts will explore in more detail each of the above developments.

Today’s post is about yesterday’s other FCPA development - the announcement of the long-expected enforcement action against Parker Drilling (a Houston-based oil drilling services company) for conduct in Nigeria.

As indicated in this DOJ release, the Parker Drilling action “stemmed from the DOJ’s Panalpina-related investigations.”

As detailed in this prior post, in November 2010, the DOJ and SEC announced coordinated FCPA enforcement actions against Swiss-based freight forwarder Panalpina and six oil and gas companies that utilized its services in connection with business in Nigeria.  The November 2010 enforcement action resulted in approximately $237 million in combined DOJ/SEC settlement amounts.  (For additional reading on these actions, please visit the CustomsGate tab under the search feature of this site or see here where all the prior actions are linked).  As noted in this prior statistical post, Panalpina-related enforcement actions are one, of just a few unique events, that have given rise to the majority of FCPA enforcements since 2007, and Panalpina-related enforcement actions significantly contributed to the “spike” in FCPA enforcement actions in 2010.

Total fines and penalties in the Parker Drilling enforcement action were approximately $15.9 million (approximately $11.8 million in the DOJ enforcement action and approximately $4.1 million in the SEC enforcement action).

This post summarizes the DOJ’s and SEC’s allegations and resolution documents.

DOJ

The DOJ enforcement action involved a criminal information (here) against Parker Drilling resolved through a deferred prosecution agreement (here)

Criminal Information

Parker Drilling operated oil-drilling rigs in Nigeria owned by Parker Drilling (Nigeria Limited), a Nigerian entity and wholly-owned subsidiary of Parker Drilling Offshore International, Inc., (a Cayman Islands corporation wholly-owned by Parker Drilling).  According to the information, “Parker Drilling ceased drilling operations in Nigeria in 2006″ and the conduct at issues focused on two issues or events that occurred between 8 to 12 years ago.

First, the information, like the prior Panalpina-related enforcement actions, alleged conduct in connection with obtaining temporary importation permits (TIPs) in Nigeria for oil-drilling rigs.  The information alleges that in 2001, Parker Drilling retained Panalpina to “obtain TIPs and TIP extensions on Parker Drilling’s behalf.  According to the information, between 2001 and 2002:

“Panalpina obtained new TIPs for Parker Drilling’s rigs by submitting false paperwork on Parker Drilling’s behalf to avoid the time, cost, and risk associated with exporting the rigs and re-importing them into Nigerian waters (a process that Panalpina referred to as the ‘paper process’ or ‘recycling.’).  Panalpina created and caused to be presented to Nigerian officials documents that reflected that the rigs had been physically exported and re-imported.  In reality, the drilling rigs never left Nigerian waters.”

Second, and more significant in terms of the conduct alleged in the information, the DOJ alleges conduct in relation to the Nigerian ”Panel of Inquiry for the Investigation of All Cases of Temporary Import Permits Issued Between 1984 to Year 2000″ (the “TI Panel”).  According to the information, the TI Panel was “presidentially appointed, operated under the auspices of the Nigerian President’s Office, and possessed the power to issue subpoenas and levy fines” in connection with certain duties and tariffs that the Nigerian Customs Service (“NCS”) collected or failed to collect between 1984 and 2000.

As to the TI Panel, the information alleges that beginning in 2002 the TI Panel began reviewing Parker Drilling.  According to the information, thereafter Parker Drilling engaged Nigeria Outside Counsel (a Nigerian citizen based in Nigeria who advised Parker Drilling on customs and other matters in Nigeria) and a Nigeria Agent (a Nigerian and British citizen based in the U.K. to assist Parker Drilling in connection with customs matters in Nigeria) who represented Parker Drilling before the TI Panel.

The information alleges that in 2004 “the TI Panel concluded that Parker Drilling had violated [Nigerian law] with respect to several of its TIPS” and that the “TI Panel assessed a fine of $3.8 million against Parker Drilling.”  The information then outlines a “bribery scheme,” that resulted in the TI Panel reducing Parking Drilling’s fine ”to just $750,000.”

In connection with this ”bribery scheme,” the information alleges conduct as to Employee A (a U.S. citizen based in Nigeria who, during the relevant time period, was the General Manager of Parker Drilling’s operations in Nigeria); Employee B (a U.S. citizen based in Nigeria who also was a General Manager of Parker Drilling’s Operations in Nigeria); Executive A (a U.S. citizen based in Houston who performed financial and compliance functions for Parker Drilling between 2002 through 2005); Executive B (a U.S. citizen based in Houston who performed a legal function for Parker Drilling); U.S. Outside Counsel (a U.S. citizen and partner in a U.S. law firm who served as Parker Drilling’s outside counsel who provided legal and business advice to Parker Drilling on customs and other issues in Nigeria).

Specifically, the information alleges that U.S Outside Counsel suggested that Parker Drilling retain the Nigeria Agent to resolve its Nigerian customs issues even though Nigeria Agent’s “resume, which U.S. Outside Counsel provided to Parker Drilling, did not reflect any past experience in Nigeria or handling customs issues.”  According to the information, Parker Drilling “conducted no additional due diligence into Nigeria Agent’s qualifications.”

The information alleges that “with one exception, Parking Drilling paid Nigeria agent indirectly through the U.S.-based law firm” and that “Executives A and B paid and caused to be paid all of Nigeria Agent’s expenses without receiving any invoices particularly describing the expenditures’ purposes.”   According to the information, many of expenses related to food, entertainment, social events and the like and the information alleges various meetings the Nigeria Agent had with various Nigerian foreign officials.

The information further alleges that Parker Drilling’s treasurer informed Executive B “that the lack of invoices could raise an issue in Parker Drilling’s ongoing Sarbanes Oxley audit.”  Thereafter, the information alleges, the Nigeria Agent sent an invoice and that Executive B “accepted the invoice and retained it in Parker Drilling’s files, knowing that the invoice did not accurately reflect the true purpose of Parker’s Drillings” prior payments to the Nigeria Agent.

The information then states as follows.  “All told, Parker Drilling transferred and caused to be transferred to Nigeria Agent approximately $1.25 million to address Parker Drilling’s TI Panel issues” and that “Nigeria Agent succeeded in reducing Parker Drilling’s TI Panel Fines.”

Based on the above conduct, the information charges one count of violating the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions.  Although the above Panalpina-related allegations are incorporated by reference into the paragraphs charging the FCPA violation, the information specifically identifies only the TI Panel conduct and states as follows.  “Parker Drilling made and cause to be made from the United States … a series of payments totaling approximately $1.25 million to Nigeria Agent, knowing that all or a portion of those payments would be given or used to procure goods and services that were to be given to a foreign government official in return for the diminution of a lawfully assessed fine.”

Deferred Prosecution Agreement

The above charge against Parker Drilling was resolved via a DPA in which Parker Drilling admitted, accepted, and acknowledged that it was responsible for the acts of its officers, directors, employees and agents as charged in the information.

The DPA has a term of three years and under the heading “relevant considerations” it states as follows.

“The Department enters into this Agreement based on the individual facts and circumstances presented by this case and the Company.  Among the facts considered were the following:  (a) the Company’s cooperation, including conducting an extensive internal investigation and collecting, analyzing, and organizing voluminous evidence and information for the Department; (b) the Company has engaged in extensive remediation, including ending its business relationships with officers, employees or agents primarily responsible for the corrupt payments, enhancing its due diligence protocol for third-party agents and consultants, increasing training and testing requirements, and instituting heightened review of proposals and other transactional documents for all the Company’s contracts; (c) the Company has retained a full-time Chief Compliance Officer and Counsel who reports to the Chief Executive Officer and Audit Committee, as well as staff to assist the Chief Compliance Officer and Counsel; (d) the Company has already significantly enhanced and is committed to continue to enhance its compliance program and internal controls, including ensuring that its compliance program satisfies the minimum elements set forth [elsewhere in the DPA]; (e) the Company has implemented a compliance-awareness improvement initiative and program that includes issuance of periodic anti-bribery compliance alerts; (f) the Company has already implemented many of the elements described [elsewhere in the DPA]; and (g) the Company has agreed to continue to cooperate with the Department in any ongoing investigation …”.

Pursuant to the DPA, the advisory Sentencing Guidelines range for the conduct at issue was $14.7 million to $29.4 million.  The DPA then states as follows.

“The Company agrees to pay a monetary penalty in the amount of $11,760,000, an approximately 20% reduction off the bottom of the fine range [...].  The Company and the Department agree that this fine is appropriate given the facts and circumstances of this case, including the Company’s cooperation, extensive remediation, committment to continue to enhance its compliance program, and culpability relative to other companies examined in this investigation.”

During the period of the DPA, Parker Drilling will have annual reporting obligations to the DOJ concerning its remediation and implementation of various compliance measures.  As is typical in FCPA DPAs, Parker Drilling also agreed to a ”muzzle clause” (see this prior post for more information).

SEC

In a related enforcement action based on the same core conduct, the SEC brought a civil complaint (here) against Parking Drilling.

The introductory paragraph of the complaint states as follows.

“This matter involves violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) by Defendant Parker Drilling Company.  In 2004, through its outside counsel, Parker Drilling retained a Nigerian agent to assist the company with customs disputes related to the importation of its drilling rigs into Nigeria. During the course of the agent’s work, two Parker Drilling executives knowingly paid the agent large sums of money through its outside counsel for, among other things, the “entertainment” of Nigerian foreign officials in an effort to obtain their influence in resolving the customs disputes.”

The SEC complaint also contains a paragraph with the same general Panalpina-related allegations as alleged in the DOJ’s criminal information.

Under the heading “Remedial Efforts” the complaint states as follows.

“Parker Drilling demonstrated significant cooperation and conducted an extensive internal investigation. Since the time of the conduct noted in this Complaint, Parker Drilling has made significant enhancements to its global anti-corruption compliance program, including: retaining a full-time Chief Compliance Officer and Counsel who reports to the Chief Executive Officer and Audit Committee and full-time staff to assist him; enhancing anti-corruption due diligence requirements for relationships with third parties; increasing compliance monitoring and corporate auditing specifically tailored to anti-corruption; implementing a compliance awareness initiative that includes issuance of periodic anti-bribery compliance alerts; enhancing financial controls and governance; and expanding anti-corruption training throughout the organization.”

Based on the above conduct, the SEC charged an FCPA anti-bribery violation and an FCPA books and records and internal controls violation.  Other than restating the language of the books and records and internal controls provisions, the SEC complaint does not contain any specific allegations concerning these charges.

As noted in this SEC release, Parker Drilling agreed to pay disgorgement of 3,050,00 plus pre-judgment interest of $1,040,818, and consented to the entry of a final judgment permanently enjoining it from future FCPA violations.

Mitchell Ettinger, Saul Pilchen and Stephanie Cherny (Skadden, Arps) represented Parker Drilling.

Parker Drilling in this release stated as follows.

“After an extensive investigation, with which we fully cooperated, we are pleased to have reached agreement with the DOJ and the SEC, and we will continue to maintain a vigorous FCPA compliance program, to emphasize the importance of compliance and ethical business conduct, and to enhance our compliance efforts.”

Parker Drilling had previously disclosed that the DOJ and SEC’s investigations concerned “certain of our operations relating to countries in which we currently operate or formerly operated, including Kazakhstan and Nigeria.”

Of Note From The Eli Lilly Enforcement Action

Monday, January 14th, 2013

This previous post went long and deep as to the Eli Lilly enforcement action from last month.  This post continues the analysis by highlighting additional notable issues.

If This Is The Standard, Then Every Issuer Is An FCPA Violater.

This previous post discussed how the SEC’s August 2012 FCPA enforcement action against Oracle diluted FCPA enforcement to a new level.

The SEC’s China allegations against Lilly further dilutes FCPA enforcement.  The focus of the allegations is that sales representatives at Lilly-China, between 3-6 years ago, submitted false expense reports for items such as wine, speciality foods, a jade bracelet, meals, visits to bath houses, card games, karaoke bars, door prizes, spa treatments and cigarettes.  Because the SEC charged only FCPA books and records and internal controls violations based on these allegations, the identity of the ultimate recipients was not relevant, although the SEC did allege that the ultimate recipients were ”government-employed physicians.”

If the SEC’s position is that an issuer violates the FCPA’s books and records and internal controls provisions because some employees, anywhere within its world-wide organization, submit false expense reports for such nominal and inconsequential items, then every issuer has violated and will continue to violate the FCPA.

Once again, the SEC’s charging decisions prove hallow its recent Guidance related rhetoric.  (See here for the prior post).

What Is Really Being Accomplished?

Let me state for the record, lest there be any misunderstanding, that I support strong FCPA enforcement as to conduct Congress intended to capture in passing the FCPA, that adheres to fundamental legal principles, and that actually makes a difference in accomplishing the FCPA’s objective.  My criticisms and concerns of the DOJ and SEC’s FCPA enforcement has been across a wide spectrum, including that in egregious instances of corporate bribery, the DOJ has been too lenient.  See here for my article “The Facade of FCPA Enforcement” and here for my November 2010 Senate testimony.

To be sure, certain things were accomplished by the Lilly enforcement action.  $29.4 million was added to the U.S. treasury and FCPA Inc.’s pre-enforcement action professional fees and expenses likely exceeded that amount.

Beyond this, it is an open question whether the Lilly enforcement action really accomplished anything.

For starters, let’s start with the SEC’s mission.  As stated on its website, the SEC’s mission is ”to protect investors, maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets, and facilitate capital formation.”

How is this mission accomplished by the Poland and Russia allegations in the SEC’s complaint?

The Poland allegations concern approximately $39,000 in payments made by Lilly-Poland approximately 12 years ago to a legitimate and bona fide Polish charitable foundation, albeit one allegedly headed by the Director of a Government Health Fund.

The Russia allegations, the only allegations in the complaint that give rise to FCPA anti-bribery charges, concern the conduct of Lilly-Vostok and its use of various third parties in connection with government pharmaceutical business.  There is only one paragraph in the SEC’s complaint concerning specific knowledge of the alleged improper conduct and that paragraph (para. 28 of the complaint) cites a Lilly-Vostok e-mail from 18 years ago and another Lilly-Vostok e-mail from 13 years ago.

The same what is really being accomplished question could also be asked concerning a post-enforcement action requirement imposed on Lilly by the SEC.

The SEC devoted a paragraph of its complaint to “Lilly’s Remedial Measures” and stated as follows.

“Since the time of the conduct noted in this Complaint, Lilly has made improvements to its global anti-corruption compliance program, including: enhancing anticorruption due diligence requirements for relationships with third parties; implementing compliance monitoring and corporate auditing specifically tailored to anti-corruption; enhancing financial controls and governance; and expanding anti-corruption training throughout the organization.”

In other words, per the SEC, over the last approximate decade, Lilly has made extensive enhancements to its FCPA compliance program.  Against this backdrop, what is really being accomplished by the requirement that Lilly engage a compliance consultant for a 60 day period?

“Check The Box” Due Diligence?

One of the greater frustrations I experienced during my FCPA practice career was attending meetings with SEC FCPA enforcement attorneys and learning of the alternate world they lived in.  In their alternate world, companies – 7 to 10 years ago – were supposed to have current FCPA best practices throughout their organization and the absence of such current best practices was evidence of FCPA books and records and internal control violations.

I was reminded of this alternate world when reading the SEC’s release (here) in connection with the Lilly enforcement action.  In it, Kara Novaco Brockmeyer (Chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Unit) stated as follows. “Eli Lilly and its subsidiaries possessed a ‘check the box’ mentality when it came to third-party due diligence.”

“Check the Box” due diligence?

The SEC’s allegations concerning due diligence (or lack thereof) focus on the conduct of Lilly-Vostok, a Russian subsidiary, between 1994 through 2005.  In other words, 7 to 18 years ago.   Even the SEC acknowledged that, as to the relevant third-parties, ”Lilly’s due diligence” consisted of “ordering a Dun and Bradstreet report and conducting a search using an internet service to scan publicly available information.”  Elsewhere, the SEC acknowledges that Lilly-Vostok “in conjunction with outside counsel” conducted due diligence on various third parties.

Effective due diligence?  Probably not – the SEC alleges that certain beneficial owners were not identified and that there was no documentation that certain third parties were capable of performing the engaged services.  Due diligence consistent with today’s best practices?  Probably not.

Yet to call such due diligence efforts – which took place 7 to 18 years ago – “check the box” is emblematic of the SEC’s alternate reality.

The Double Standard On Display

I have frequently written about the FCPA’s double standard.  (See here for all prior posts).  The double standard regards the seemingly obvious fact that there is little intellectual or moral consistency between enforcement of the FCPA and enforcement of the U.S. domestic bribery statute (18 USC 201).  The double standard is present when a U.S company’s interaction with a “foreign official” is subject to more scrutiny and different standards than its interaction with a U.S. official.

Prior double standard posts (here and here) have explored the frequency in which U.S. business gives to charitable donations favored by influential politicans.  No consequences or legal action is taken.

Yet when a U.S. company gives to charitable donation favored by foreign politicians - well that is stuff of bribery and corruption.  In addition to the Chudow (Poland) Castle Foundation allegations in the SEC’s Lilly complaint, is the following allegation concerning Russia.

“From 2005 through 2008, Lilly-Vostok made various proposals to government officials in Russia regarding how Lilly-Vostok could donate to or otherwise support various initiatives that were affiliated with public or private institutions headed by the government officials or otherwise important to the government officials. Examples included their personal participation or the participation of people from their institutions in clinical trials and international and regional conferences and the support of charities and educational events associated with the institutes. At times, these proposals to government officials were made in a communication that also included a request for assistance in getting a product reimbursed or purchased by the government. Generally, Lilly-Vostok personnel believed these proposals were proper because of their relevance to public health issues and many of the proposals were reviewed by counsel. Nonetheless, Lilly-Vostok did not have in place internal controls through which such proposals were vetted to ascertain whether Lilly-Vostok was offering something of value to a government official for a purpose of influencing or inducing him or her to assist Lilly-Vostok in obtaining or retaining business.”

No DOJ Involvement

As indicated in the prior Lilly post, the Lilly enforcement action was the latest in a series of FCPA enforcement actions begun in 2011 against pharmaceutical / health care-related companies.  All actions (Johnson & Johnson, Smith & Nephew, Biomet, and Pfizer) have been based on the same general set of allegations (things of value to various foreign health care providers for an alleged business purpose).  However, the Lilly enforcement action is the only enforcement action with no DOJ involvement.  In “The Facade of FCPA Enforcement,” I discuss how the lack of enforcement transparency contributes to the facade of enforcement when the same core set of facts are resolved with materially different results.

A Message For Internal Audit

I have long discussed (see here and here for prior posts and here for a recent interview) the importance of FCPA goggles for internal audit and finance professionals – meaning that internal audit and finance personnel should be specifically trained to approach their specific job functions not only in the traditional way, but also with “FCPA goggles” on.  I have noted that it is clear from recent FCPA enforcement actions that the SEC expects much more from non-legal personnel when it comes to FCPA compliance, including the ability to spot FCPA issues and display a high degree of (I’ll call it) intellectual curiosity as to certain issues.

The SEC’s complaint against Lilly contains an emphatic message to the internal audit community.  Paragraph 46 of the complaint states, in full, as follows.

“[D]espite an understanding that certain emerging markets were most vulnerable to FCPA violations, Lilly’s audit department, based out of Indianapolis, had no procedures specifically designed to assess the FCPA or bribery risks of sales and purchases.  Accordingly, transactions with off-shore entities or with government-affilated entities did not receive specialized or closer review for possible FCPA violations.  In assessing these transactions, the auditors relied upon the standard accounting controls which primarily assured the soundness of the paperwork.  There was little done to assess whether, despite the existence of facially acceptable paperwork, the surrounding circumstances or terms of a transaction suggested the possibility of an FCPA violation or bribery.”

Next Up – Eli Lilly

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

First it was Johnson & Johnson (see here – $70 million in combined fines and penalties in April 2011).  Then it was Smith & Nephew (see here - $22 million in combined fines and penalties in February 2012).  Then it was Biomet (see here – $22.8 million in combined fines and penalties in March 2012).  Then it was Pfizer / Wyeth (see here  – $60 million in combined fines and penalties in August 2012).

Next up is Eli Lilly in a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action announced last week by the SEC.   This post goes long and deep as to the SEC’s allegations which resulted in a $29 million settlement.

In summary, the SEC alleges in a civil complaint (here) as follows.

“Eli Lilly and Company violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in connection with the activities of its subsidiaries in China, Brazil, Poland, and Russia.  Between 2006 and 2009, employees of Lilly’s China subsidiary falsified expense reports in order to provide improper gifts and cash payments to government-employed physicians. In 2007, a pharmaceutical distributor hired by Lilly in Brazil paid bribes to government health officials in a Brazilian state in order to assure sales of a Lilly product to state government institutions. In Poland, between 2000 and 2003, Lilly’s subsidiary made eight payments totaling approximately $39,000 to a small charitable foundation that was founded and administered by the head of one of the regional government health authorities at the same time that the subsidiary was seeking the official’s support for placing Lilly drugs on the government reimbursement list. Finally, Lilly’s subsidiary in Russia paid millions of dollars to off-shore entities for alleged “services” beginning as early as 1994 and continuing through 2005 in order for pharmaceutical distributors and government entities to purchase Lilly’s drugs. In some instances, the off-shore entities appear to have been used to funnel money to government officials or others with influence in the government in order to obtain business for the subsidiary. These off-shore entities rarely provided the contracted-for services. Moreover, between 2005 and 2008, contemporaneous with requests to government officials to support the government’s purchase or reimbursement of Lilly’s products, the subsidiary in Russia made proposals to government officials about how the company could donate to, or otherwise support, various initiatives that were affiliated with, or important to, the government officials.  As a result of this conduct, Lilly violated [the FCPA's internal controls provisions] by failing to have an adequate internal controls system in place to detect and prevent illicit payments.  Lilly violated [the FCPA's books and records provisions] by improperly recording each of those payments in its accounting books and records.  Lilly also violated the [FCPA's anti-bribery provisions] in connection with certain activities of its subsidiary in Russia.”

As indicated by the above paragraph, conduct in Poland, China, and Brazil gave rise to FCPA books and records and internal controls violations only.

Poland

The SEC’s allegations relating to Poland are substantively identical to allegations made against Schering-Plough in this 2004 FCPA enforcement action.

In pertinent part, the SEC alleges in its complaint against Eli Lilly as follows.

“During 2000 through 2003, Lilly’s wholly-owned subsidiary in Poland (“Lilly- Poland”) made eight payments totaling approximately $39,000 to the Chudow Castle Foundation (“Chudow Foundation”), a small charitable foundation in Poland that was founded and administered by the Director of the Silesian Health Fund (“Director”). The Director established the Chudow Foundation in 1995 to restore the Chudow Castle in the town of Chudow and other historic sites in the Silesian region of Poland.

The Silesian Health Fund (“Health Fund”) was one of sixteen regional government health authorities in Poland during the period. Among other things, the Health Fund reimbursed hospitals and healthcare providers for the purchase of certain approved products.  The Health Fund, through the allocation of public money, exercised considerable influence over which pharmaceutical products local hospitals and other healthcare providers in the region purchased.

Beginning in early 2000 and into 2002, Lilly-Poland was in negotiations with the Health Fund over, among other things, the Heath Fund’s financing of the purchase of Gemzar, one of Lilly’s cancer drugs, by public hospitals and other healthcare providers. Those negotiations occurred primarily between a team manager at Lilly-Poland (“Lilly Manager”) and the Director. Continuing at intervals throughout these negotiations, the Director asked that Lilly Poland contribute to the Chudow Foundation. The initial request came directly from the Director and the subsequent requests came from the Chudow Foundation.

The Lilly-Poland Manager knew that the Director had established the Chudow Foundation and that it was a project to which he was devoted and lent much effort. The Manager requested the approval of payments to the Chudow Foundation. The Manager falsely described the first payment as being for the purchase of computers for the Chudow Foundation. The second Lilly-Poland payment request falsely characterized the proposed payment as “[t]o support foundation in its goal to develop activities in [Chudow Castle].” That request documentation also noted that the “value of the request” was “[i]ndirect support of educational efforts of foundation settled by Silesia [Health Fund].” Similarly, the remaining payments were mischaracterized as monies paid by Lilly-Poland to secure the use of the Chudow Castle for conferences after its renovation. No such conferences took place.

Lilly-Poland eventually made a total of eight payments to the Chudow Foundation, starting in June 2000 and ending in January 2003.  [...]  The Manager requested the approval of the payments to the Chudow Foundation with the intent of inducing the Health-Fund Director to allocate public monies to hospitals and other health care providers in the Health Fund for the purpose of purchasing Gemzar.

China

As to China, the SEC alleges, in full, as follows.

“Lilly’s wholly-owned subsidiary through which it does business in China (“Lilly- China”) employs more than one-thousand sales representatives whose main focus is on marketing Lilly products to government-employed health-care providers. During the relevant period, the sales representatives worked from regional offices and traveled throughout the country, interacting with the health-care providers in order to convince them to prescribe Lilly products. The sales representatives were directly supervised by District Sales Managers who, in tum, were supervised by Regional Managers. Sales representatives paid out-of-pocket for their travel expenses and submitted receipts and other documentation to the company for reimbursement.

Between 2006 and 2009, various sales representatives and their supervisors abused the system by submitting, or instructing subordinates to submit, false expense reports. In some instances, Lilly-China personnel used reimbursements from those false reports to purchase gifts and entertainment for government-employed physicians in order to encourage the physicians to look favorably upon Lilly and prescribe Lilly products.

In one sales area, in 2006 and 2007, a District Sales Manager for Lilly’s diabetes products instructed subordinates to submit false expenses reports and provide the reimbursement money to her. She then used the reimbursements to purchase gifts, such as wine, specialty foods and a jade bracelet, for government-employed physicians. At least five sales representatives in the oncology sales group submitted false expense reports and then used those reimbursements to provide meals, visits to bath houses, and card games to government-employed physicians.

Similarly, in three other provinces, three sales representatives submitted false expense reports and then used the reimbursements to provide government-employed physicians with visits to bath houses and karaoke bars. In another city, five sales representatives submitted false reimbursements and then their Regional Manager used the money to provide door prizes and publication fees to government-employed physicians. In another city, seven sales representatives and the District Sales Manager for the diabetes sales team used reimbursements to buy meals and cosmetics for government-employed physicians.

Between 2008 and 2009, members of Lilly-China’s “Access Group,” which was responsible for expanding access to Lilly products in China by, among other things, convincing government officials to list Lilly products on government reimbursement lists, engaged in similar misconduct. At least six members of the sixteen-member Access Group, including two associate access directors, falsified expense reports and used the proceeds to provide gifts and entertainment to government officials in China. The gifts included: spa treatments, meals, and cigarettes.

Although the dollar amount of each gift was generally small, the improper payments were wide-spread throughout the subsidiary. Lilly has terminated, or otherwise disciplined, the various employees who submitted false expense reports and/or used the proceeds to provide gifts and services to government officials.”

Brazil

As to Brazil, the SEC alleges, in full, as follows.

“Between 2007 and 2009, Lilly-Brazil distributed drugs in Brazil through third party distributors who then resold those products to both private and government entities. As a general rule, Lilly-Brazil sold the drugs to the distributors at a discount; the distributors then resold the drugs to the end users at a higher price and took the discount as their compensation.  Lilly-Brazil negotiated the amount of the discount with the distributor based on the distributor’s anticipated sale. The discount to the distributors generally ranged between 6.5% and 15%, with the majority of distributors in Brazil receiving a 10% discount.

In early 2007, at the request of one of Lilly-Brazil’s sales and marketing managers at the time, Lilly-Brazil granted a nationwide pharmaceutical distributor, unusually large discounts of 17% and 19% for two of the distributor’s purchases of a Lilly drug, which the distributor then sold to the government of one of the Brazilian states. Lilly-Brazil’s pricing committee approved the discounts without further inquiry. The policies and procedures in place to flag unusual distributor discounts were deficient. They relied on the representations of the sales and marketing manager without adequate verification and analysis of the surrounding circumstances of the transactions. In May 2007, Lilly sold 3,200 milligrams of the drug to the distributor for resale to the Brazilian state; in August 2007, Lilly-Brazil sold 13,500 milligrams of the drug to the distributor for resale to the Brazilian state. Together the sales were valued at approximately $1.2 million.

The distributor used approximately 6% of the purchase price (approximately $70,000) to bribe government officials from the Brazilian state so that the state would purchase the Lilly product. The Lilly-Brazil sales and marketing manager who requested the discount knew about this arrangement.”

Russia

As to Russia, in pertinent part, the SEC complaint alleges as follows.

“From 1994 through 2005, Lilly-Vostok, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Lilly, sold pharmaceutical products either directly to government entities in the former Soviet Union or through various distributors, often selected by the government, who would then resell the products to the government entities. Along with the underlying purchase contract with the government entity or distributor, Lilly-Vostok sometimes entered into another agreement with a third-party selected by a government official or by the government-chosen pharmaceutical distributor. Generally, these third-parties, which had addresses and bank accounts located outside of Russia, were paid a flat fee or a percentage of the sale. These agreements were referred to as “marketing” or “service” agreements.  In total, Lilly-Vostok entered into over 96 such agreements with over 42 third-party entities between 1994 and 2004.

Lilly-Vostok had little information about these third-party entities, beyond their addresses and bank accounts. Rarely did Lilly-Vostok know who owned them or whether the entities were actual businesses that could provide legitimate services. Senior management employees in Lilly-Vostok’s Moscow branch assisted in the negotiation of these agreements. The contracts themselves were derived from a Lilly-Vostok-created template and enumerated various broadly-defined services, such as ensuring “immediate customs clearance” or “immediate delivery” of the products; or assisting Lilly-Vostok in “obtaining payment for the sales transaction,” “the promotion of the products,” and “marketing research.”

Contrary to what was recorded in the company’s books and records, there is little evidence that any services were actually provided under any of these third-party agreements. Indeed, in many instances, the “services” identified in the contract were already being provided by the distributor, a third-party handler (such as an international shipping handler) or Lilly itself. To the extent services such as expedited customs clearance or other services requiring interaction with government officials were provided, Lilly-Vostok did not know or inquire how the third party intended to perform their services.

Contemporaneous documents reflect that Lilly-Vostok employees viewed the payments as necessary to obtain the business from the distributor or government entity, and not as payment for legitimate services.

The SEC also alleges that in 1997 and in 1999 Lilly conducted a business review of Lilly-Vostok.  According to the SEC, the reports raised concerns about Lilly-Vostok’s business practices and the reports “recommended that Lilly-Vostok modify its internal controls to ensure that [certain third-party] services were documented” and to “assure itself that [certain third-party] agreements accurately and fairly reflect the services to be provided.”

However, the SEC alleged as follows.

“Lilly did not curtail the use of marketing agreements by its subsidiary or make any meaningful efforts to ensure that the marketing agreements were not being used as a method to funnel money to government officials, despite recognition that the marketing agreements were being used to “create sales potential” or “to ‘support’ activities leading to agreement-signing” with government entities. In fact, during the 2000-2004 period — after the above-described reports, but prior to the company ending use of the agreements– Lilly-Vostok entered into the three most expensive of these arrangements.”

The three arrangements are as follows.

First, the SEC alleged that in response to a 2002 Russian Ministry of Health tender, the ministry selected a “large Russian pharmaceutical distributor” for which to purchase the products and the distributor in turn negotiated with Lilly-Vostok for the purchase of diabetes products.  According to the SEC, the distributor required Lilly-Vostok, “as a condition of their agreement” to enter into various agreements with an entity incorporated in Cyprus.

According to the SEC.

“Lilly’s due diligence regarding the entity in Cyprus was limited to ordering a Dun and Bradstreet report and conducting a search using an internet service to scan publicly available information. Neither the Dun and Bradstreet report nor the internet search revealed the Cyprus entity’s beneficial owner or anything about its business. Nonetheless, pursuant to the terms of its arrangement with the distributor, Lilly-Vostok paid the entity in Cyprus over $3.8 million in early 2003.

The Cyprus entity was, in fact, owned by the Russian businessman who was the owner of the distributor. There is no evidence of services provided to Lilly-Vostok by the Cyprus entity in consideration for Lilly-Vostok’s $3.8 million in payments. Lilly’s books and records improperly reflected these payments as payments for services.”

Second, the SEC alleges “at least two instances” involving foreign government officials and alleges as follows.

“Between 2000 and 2005, Lilly-Vostok sold significant amounts of pharmaceutical products to a major Russian pharmaceutical distributor for resale to the Russian Ministry of Health. The pharmaceutical distributor was owned and controlled by an individual who, at the beginning of the distributor’s relationship with Lilly-Vostok, was a close adviser to a member of Russia’s Parliament. In 2003, this official became a member of the upper house of Russia’s Parliament. Throughout the period, this official exercised considerable influence over government decisions relating to the pharmaceutical industry in Russia.

As part of most of the sales arrangements with the distributor, the official demanded that Lilly-Vostok enter into separate “marketing” agreements with entities with addresses and bank accounts in Cyprus. Under the arrangement, Lilly-Vostok paid the Cypriot entities up to thirty percent of the sales price of the underlying sales contracts in return for the Cypriot entities entering into an agreement “to offer all assistance necessary” in various areas like storage, importation and payment.

In conjunction with outside counsel, Lilly-Vostok conducted limited due diligence on these third-parties. However, the due diligence did not identify the beneficial owners of these third-parties or determine whether the third-parties were able to provide the contracted-for assistance. Nonetheless, Lilly-Vostok concluded that it could proceed with the transactions and paid the Cypriot entities over $5.2 million. In fact, the Cypriot entities were owned by an individual associated with the distributor controlled by the member of the upper house of Russia Parliament. The Cypriot entity transferred the payments from Lilly-Vostok to other off-shore entities.”

Third, the SEC alleges “in connection another series of contracts, from 2000 through 2004, Lilly-Vostok sold products to a distributor, headquartered in Moscow, which was wholly-owned by a Russian government entity.

The SEC alleged as follows.

 ”The purchase agreements were signed on the government-owned distributor’s behalf by its General Director. As part of the arrangement, the government-owned distributor selected a third-party entity with an address in the British Virgin Islands (“the BVI entity”) with which Lilly-Vostok entered into agreements for the broadly defined “services” enumerated in the Lilly-Vostok template (see above). Under the terms of the agreements between Lilly-Vostok and the BVI entity, Lilly-Vostok was to pay the BVI entity up to 15% of the price of the product purchased by the government-owned distributor. Accordingly, from 2000 through 2005, Lilly-Vostok made approximately 65 payments to the BVI entity totaling approximately $2 million.

There is no evidence that the BVI entity performed any of the services listed in its agreement with Lilly-Vostok. There is also no evidence that Lilly-Vostok performed any due diligence or inquiry as to whether the BVI entity was able or did perform the contracted-for services. Lastly, there is no evidence that Lilly-Vostok performed any due diligence or inquiry into the identity of the beneficial owner of the BVI entity. In fact, the beneficial owner of the BVI entity was the General Director of the government-owned distributor, and he ultimately received the payments from the BVI entity.”

As to these various arrangements, the SEC alleges as follows.  “Lilly did not direct Lilly-Vostok to cease entering into these third-party agreements until 2004. However, Lilly permitted the subsidiary to continue making payments under already existing third-party contracts as late as 2005.”

As to the above Russian conduct, the complaint charges violations of the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions.  Of note, the complaints specifically pleads as follows regarding knowledge.  “When 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 circumstances, unless the person actually believes that the circumstance does not exist.”

The SEC complaint also contains the following allegation.

“From 2005 through 2008, Lilly-Vostok made various proposals to government officials in Russia regarding how Lilly-Vostok could donate to or otherwise support various initiatives that were affiliated with public or private institutions headed by the government officials or otherwise important to the government officials. Examples included their personal participation or the participation of people from their institutions in clinical trials and international and regional conferences and the support of charities and educational events associated with the institutes. At times, these proposals to government officials were made in a communication that also included a request for assistance in getting a product reimbursed or purchased by the government. Generally, Lilly-Vostok personnel believed these proposals were proper because of their relevance to public health issues and many of the proposals were reviewed by counsel. Nonetheless, Lilly-Vostok did not have in place internal controls through which such proposals were vetted to ascertain whether Lilly-Vostok was offering something of value to a government official for a purpose of influencing or inducing him or her to assist Lilly-Vostok in obtaining or retaining business.”

As to Lilly’s books and records, the SEC alleges as follows.

“[S]ubsidiaries of Eli Lilly made numerous payments that were incorrectly described in the company’s books and records. In China, payments were falsely described as reimbursement of expenses when, in fact, the money was used to provide gifts to government-employed physicians. In Brazil, money that was described in company records as a “discount” for a pharmaceutical distributor was, in actuality, a bribe for government officials. In Poland, payments classified as charitable donations were not intended for a genuine charitable purpose but rather to induce a government official to assent to the purchase of a Lilly product. Finally, in Russia, millions of dollars in payments, described in the company’s books and records as for various services, were actually payments to assure that Lilly was able to conduct business with certain pharmaceutical distributors.”

As to Lilly’s internal controls, the SEC alleges as follows.

“During the relevant period, Lilly and its subsidiaries failed to devise and maintain an adequate system of internal accounting sufficient to provide reasonable assurance that the company maintained accountability for its assets and transactions were executed in accordance with management’s authorization. Particularly, Lilly did not adequately verify that intermediaries with which the company was doing government-related business would not provide a benefit to a government official on Lilly’s behalf in order to obtain or retain business. Lilly and its subsidiaries primarily relied on assurances and information provided in the paperwork by these intermediaries or by Lilly personnel rather than engaging in adequate verification and analyzing the surrounding circumstances of the transaction. Lilly and its subsidiaries’ employees considered and offered benefits to government officials at the same time they were asking those government officials to assist with the reimbursement or purchase of Lilly’s products with inadequate safeguards to assure that its employees were not offering items of values to a government official with a purpose to assist Lilly in retaining or obtaining business.

Moreover, despite an understanding that certain emerging markets were most vulnerable to FCPA violations, Lilly’s audit department, based out of Indianapolis, had no procedures specifically designed to assess the FCPA or bribery risks of sales and purchases. Accordingly, transactions with off-shore entities or with government-affiliated entities did not receive specialized or closer review for possible FCPA violations.  In assessing these transactions, the auditors relied upon the standard accounting controls which primarily assured the soundness of the paperwork. There was little done to assess whether, despite the existence of facially acceptable paperwork, the surrounding circumstances or terms of a transaction suggested the possibility of an FCPA violation or bribery.

As to Lilly’s remedial efforts, the SEC complaint states as follows.

“Since the time of the conduct noted in this Complaint, Lilly has made improvements to its global anti-corruption compliance program, including: enhancing anticorruption due diligence requirements for relationships with third parties; implementing compliance monitoring and corporate auditing specifically tailored to anti-corruption; enhancing financial controls and governance; and expanding anti-corruption training throughout the organization.”

As noted in this SEC release,  Lilly, without admitting or denying the allegations, agreed to pay disgorgement of $13,955,196, prejudgment interest of $6,743,538, and a penalty of $8.7 million for a total payment of $29,398,734.  The release also notes that “Lilly also agreed to comply with certain undertakings including the retention of an independent consultant to review and make recommendations about its foreign corruption policies and procedures.”

In Lilly’s release (below) the retention period of the consultant is identified as 60 days and in the SEC’s proposed final judgement, the consultant is identified as FTI Consulting which has been assisting Lilly in connection with a previous Corporate Integrity Agreement.

The case has been assigned to Judge Beryl A. Howell (U.S. District Court, District of Columbia).

William Baker III (Latham & Watkins) represented Lilly.

In the SEC’s release, Kara Novaco Brockmeyer (Chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Unit) stated as follows. “Eli Lilly and its subsidiaries possessed a ‘check the box’ mentality when it came to third-party due diligence. Companies can’t simply rely on paper-thin assurances by employees, distributors, or customers. They need to look at the surrounding circumstances of any payment to adequately assess whether it could wind up in a government official’s pocket.”  In the same release, Antonia Chion (Associate Director in the SEC Enforcement Division) stated as follows.  “When a parent company learns tell-tale signs of a bribery scheme involving a subsidiary, it must take immediate action to assure that the FCPA is not being violated.  We strongly caution company officials from averting their eyes from what they do not wish to see.”

This Lilly release quotes Anne Nobles (Lilly’s Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer and Senior VP of Enterprise Risk Management) as follows.  “Lilly requires our employees to act with integrity with all external parties and in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations.  Since ours is a business based on trust, we strive to conduct ourselves in an ethical way that is beyond reproach. We have cooperated with the U.S. government throughout this investigation and have strengthened our internal controls and compliance program globally, including significant investment in our global anti-corruption program.”  The Lilly release further states as follows.  “The SEC noted that since the time of the conduct alleged in its complaint, Lilly has made improvements to its global anti-corruption compliance program, including: enhancing anti-corruption due diligence requirements for relationships with third parties; implementing compliance monitoring and corporate auditing specifically tailored to anti-corruption; enhancing financial controls and governance; and expanding anti-corruption training throughout the organization.”  The release further notes that “Lilly was first notified of the investigation in August 2003″ and describes the independent compliance consultant as conducting a ”60-day review of the company’s internal controls and compliance program related to the FCPA.”

FCPA Issues Can Reduce The Value Of A Merger

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Getting transactional lawyers to take the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act seriously can sometimes be an uphill battle.

The recent and ongoing FCPA scrutiny of ABM Industries Inc. should help sell the story.

As noted in this prior post, in December 2011 ABM disclosed in its annual report as follows.  “During October 2011, the Company began an internal investigation into matters relating to compliance with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the Company’s internal policies in connection with services provided by a foreign entity affiliated with a Linc joint venture partner. Such services commenced prior to the Company’s acquisition of Linc. As a result of the investigation, the Company has caused Linc to terminate its association with the arrangement. In December 2011, the Company contacted the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission to voluntarily disclose the results of its internal investigation to date. The Company cannot reasonably estimate the potential liability, if any, related to these matters. However, based on the facts currently known, the Company does not believe that these matters will have a material adverse effect on its business, financial condition, results of operations or cash flows.”

As suggested by the above disclosure, ABM’s FCPA scrutiny does not involve anything it did, rather it is based on a foreign entity affiliated with a joint venture partner of a company (The Linc Group LLC) ABM merged with December 2010.  As noted in this ABM release, ABM acquired The Linc Group, LLC (“TLG”) for $300 million in cash.

The merger agreement (here) contains a typical target company representation and warranty as follows.

“Section 3.25 Certain Practices. Neither the Company [The Linc Group LLC] nor any Subsidiary (including any of their officers, manager, directors or employees acting on behalf of the Company or any Subsidiary) nor, to the Knowledge of the Company, any other Person acting on behalf of the Company or any Subsidiary, has, directly or indirectly through another Person, made, offered or authorized the use of, or used, any corporate funds or provided anything of value (a) for unlawful payments, contributions, gifts, entertainment or other unlawful expenses relating to political activity, (b) to foreign or domestic government officials or employees in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 and any similar anti-corruption or anti-bribery laws applicable to the Company or any of the Subsidiaries in any jurisdiction other than the United States (collectively, the “FCPA”), or (c) for a bribe, rebate, payoff, influence payment, kickback or other similar payment in violation of any Applicable Law.”

Perhaps FCPA specific due diligence was conducted by ABM prior to closing and the due diligence did not detect the potential FCPA issue or perhaps FCPA specific due diligence was not conducted.

Regardless of the answer, ABM’s FCPA scrutiny, based entirely on the pre-merger conduct of The Linc Group or its affiliates, is reducing the value of the merger.

In its recent quarterly filing (here), ABM disclosed, for the six months ending April 30, 2012, $2.7 million of legal fees and other costs associated with the internal investigation.  Given that ABM’s investigation would appear to be in its infancy, and factoring in potential exposure through an actual enforcement action, it is not hard to imagine that 5% of the merger price could evaporate due to the FCPA issue.  And then of course, there is potential post-enforcement action costs.

For instance, in 2010 Alliance One International resolved an FCPA enforcement action by agreeing to pay $19.5 million in combined DOJ and SEC fines and penalties.  The entire enforcement action was based on the pre-merger conduct of acquired entities.  (See here for the prior post).  Pursuant to a non-prosecution agreement, Alliance One was required to engage a compliance monitor for three years.  In FY 11, the company disclosed $3.4 million in monitor costs.  Earlier this week, in an annual report, the company disclosed an additional $6.1 million in monitor costs.

In short, the FCPA matters, including for transactional attorneys, in the context of M&A.

For previous posts discussing similar merger issues, see here and here.

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As readers may know, one of the FCPA reform proposals suggested is in the context of M&A transactions.  The original ABM post from December 2011 linked above, discussed the company’s disclosure in the context of George Terwilliger’s (here – an FCPA practitioner at White & Case and former Deputy Attorney General) period of repose proposal.  The proposal, as Terwilliger explains in this piece “is that US companies, with notice to US enforcement authorities, would have a defined period after an acquisition in which to perform a rigorous FCPA compliance review of the acquired entity. If FCPA compliance issues were uncovered, the acquiring company would remediate them, and disclose both the existence of the problem and its remediation to the government. The acquiring company would be immune from civil or criminal enforcement as to matters uncovered during the review period, which could be on the order of 90 to 120 days.”
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As to M&A issues, readers may be interested in this recent publication from Transparency International U.K. titled “Anti-Bribery Due Diligence for Transactions.”  As explained in the publication, the “guidance is intended to provide a practical tool for companies on undertaking anti-bribery due diligence in the course of mergers, acquisitions and investment.”