Archive for the ‘Executive Enforcement Action’ Category

Swiss National, A Former Maxwell Technologies Exec, Criminally Charged

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

When highlighting the frequent lack of individual Foreign Corrupt Practices Act charges in connection with most corporate FCPA enforcement action, the qualifier “at least yet” has always been used.  This qualifier if warranted because in certain instances individual charges follow years after a corporate FCPA enforcement action.

For instance, in January 2011 Maxwell Technologies (a California-based manufacturer of energy storage and power delivery products) resolved parallel DOJ and SEC FCPA enforcement actions concerning alleged business conduct in China by agreeing to pay approximately $14 million.

Alleging the same core conduct at issue in the 2011 corporate enforcement action, earlier this week the DOJ criminally charged Alain Riedo, a Swiss citizen, with conspiracy and substantive violations of the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions, books and records and internal controls provisions.  According to the indictment, Riedo was, at various relevant times, a Vice President and General Manager of Maxwell Technologies S.A. (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Maxwell Technologies incorporated and located in Switzerland)  as well as a Senior Vice President and officer of Maxwell.  As noted in this SEC filing, in July 2009 the employment contract between Riedo and Maxwell was terminated.

According to this Wall Street Journal Risk and Compliance post, Riedo is currently “the director of the Fribourg chapter of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Switzerland” and the DOJ considers Riedo a fugitive.

As indicated above, the allegations in the Riedo indictment mirror the conduct at issue in the 2011 Maxwell corporate enforcement action.

In pertinent part, the DOJ alleges that Riedo and others made “corrupt payments to Chinese government officials, including officials at Pinggao Group, Xi-an XD and Shenyang HV, and to others” and falsely “record[ed] such payments on Maxwell’s books, records, and accounts, in order to obtain and retain business, prestige, and increased compensation for Riedo, Maxwell, Maxwell S.A. and others.”

As in the prior corporate enforcement action, Pinggao is alleged to be a “state-owned and state-controlled manufacturer of electric-utility infrastructure in Henan Provice, China,” Xi-an XD is alleged to be a “state-owned and state-controlled manufacturer of electric-utility infrastructure in Shaanxi Province, China,” and Shenyang HV is alleged to be “either state-owned or substantially controlled by the Chinese government.”

Like the prior corporate enforcement, Agent 1 (a Chinese national who served as Maxwell S.A.’s third party agent from 2002 to 2009 and was “responsible for the sale of Maxwell capacitors to customers” in China) is prominently mentioned in the Riedo indictment.  According to the indictment, Agent 1 “would and did pay bribes to Chinese government officials” and “would and did ensure that the quotes [obtained from Maxwell S.A.] contained a secret mark-up of approximately 20 percent, resulting in a higher total price to the Chinese customers for Maxwell S.A.’s equipment.”  According to the indictment, Riedo and another individual caused Maxwell S.A.’s books and records to “falsely record the ‘extra amount’ bribe payments as commissions, sales expenses, or consulting fees.”

The indictment further alleges that Riedo and another individual “would and did hamper efforts by other Maxwell executives to learn the truth about operations and finances at Maxwell S.A’s operations in Switzerland” and that “after Maxwell terminated its sales-representative arrangement with Agent 1, Riedo would and did attempt to re-hire Agent 1 as the company’s sales agent in China under the name of another company and against the instructions of Maxwell’s CEO.”

The DOJ generally alleges the following U.S. acts by Riedo.

  • Riedo electronically transmitted or caused to be transmitted to Maxwell’s headquarters in California Maxwell S.A’s false books and records and also caused the false entries to be included “in Maxwell’s books, records, and accounts, including Maxwell’s publicly filed financial statements and SEC filings.”
  • Riedo signed a “sub-certification” as part of Maxwell’s Sarbanes-Oxley process and falsely certified information that Riedo knew was incorrect and that Riedo caused the false “sub-certification” and other financial data to be sent to corporate headquarters in California.
  • Riedo sent an e-mail from Switzerland to California “asking Maxwell’s CFO to release funds to Agent 1 to retain business in China”
  • Riedo sent an e-mail from Switzerland to California attaching an “FCPA” certificate and asking Maxwell’s CFO to proceed in approving payment of an extra amount.

The DOJ further alleges that Riedo completed an internal Maxwell questionnaire and answered “no” to various FCPA issues “when in fact Riedo knew that Agent 1 was, directly and indirectly, receiving extra-amount payments and passing those payments along to employees of Chinese state-owned entities and other companies in order to obtain or retain business.”

Based on the above allegations, the indictment charges conspiracy to violate the FCPA’s anti-bribery and books and records and internal controls provisions, two substantive violations of the anti-bribery provisions, five substantive violations of the FCPA’s books and records provisions, and one substantive violation of the FCPA’s internal controls provisions.

This will be an interesting case to follow should Riedo choose to contest the DOJ’s charges.

Aside from the enforcement theory that employees of alleged China SOEs are “foreign officials” under the FCPA (the same general issue is currently on appeal before the 11th Circuit – see here), are potential jurisdiction issues.  In certain respects, this action may implicate the same general issues as in SEC v. Elek Strab et. al (see here for the pre-trial motion to dismiss decision) and SEC v. Herbet Steffen (see here for the pre-trial motion to dismiss decision).

Checking In

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

This post checks in on recent developments in two enforcement actions:  (i) the FCPA enforcement action against various individuals associated with Alstom; and (ii) the FCPA-related enforcement action against alleged Haitian “foreign official” Jean Duperval currently on appeal to the 11th Circuit.

Alstom-Related Action

Earlier this week, the DOJ announced that Lawrence Hoskins, “a former senior vice president for the Asia region for [Alstom], was charged in the District of Connecticut with conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and to launder money, as well as substantive FCPA and money laundering violations.”

The conduct at issue in the Second Superceding Indictment is the same core conduct alleged in original criminal charges filed against Frederic Pierucci and David Rothschild, as well as the conduct alleged in the Superceding Indictment which added William Pomponi to the action.  (See here and here for previous posts).    That is -  alleged payments in connection with the Tarahan coal-fired steam power plant project in Indonesia.  In the prior charging documents, Hoskins was generically referred to as Executive A.

As noted in previous posts, Rothschild pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the FCPA.

The DOJ further announced in its release earlier this week that Pierucci pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to violate the FCPA and one count of violating the FCPA.  (See here for the plea agreement).

Duperval Action

This previous post detailed the 11th Circuit appeal of Jean Duperval.  Duperval was one of the alleged “foreign officials” charged in connection with the Haiti Teleco enforcement actions (see here for a summary and roundup of the entire Haiti Teleco enforcement actions) with non-FCPA offenses and he was found guilty by a jury of various money laundering charges.

As noted in the previous post, in his appeal Duperval argues, among other things, as follows.  “The evidence was insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Haiti Teleco was a government instrumentality and that Jean Rene Duperval was a foreign official as required to prove that a violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act generated proceeds of a specified unlawful activity – a necessary predicate for the convictions on the money laundering conspiracy and substantive money laundering charges.”

As noted in the previous post, Duperval’s substantive arguments as to “foreign official” largerly mirror the arguments of Joel Esquenazi and Carlos Rodriguez (also criminally charged and convicted in the Haiti Teleco matter) in their historical “foreign official” appeal to the 11th Circuit (see here for links to the briefing).

Among other things, Duperval’s argument includes discussion and several citations to my “foreign official” declaration  (see here).

Briefing is now complete in the Duperval appeal.

Not surprisingly, the DOJ’s arguments in connection with “foreign official” largely mirror the arguments it makes in the Esquenazi and Rodriguez appeal.  The DOJ is again seeking to exclude my foreign official declaration from the record and its brief states:

“Duperval relies on a 144-page declaration by a proposed defense expert that was filed on behalf of the defendants in Carson.  Although Duperval suggests that this Court may take judicial notice of the declaration because it relates to legislative history, the declaration selectively reviews the legislative history and draws inferences in support of a defense motion to dismiss the indictment. As such, it is not necessarily the statement of a disinterested expert, it was not reviewed as a scholarly article, and it was never subject to impeachment in the case below.”

Last week Duperval filed a reply brief, and not surprisingly, the arguments in connection with “foreign official” largely mirror the arguments made by Esquenazi and Rodriguez in their reply brief.  As to my “foreign official” declaration, the brief states:

“The government also condemns Duperval’s reference to Professor Michael J. Koehler’s declaration addressing the legislative history of the FCPA, which was filed in United States v. Carson. Aside from the analysis contained in the Koehler declaration, the substance of the declaration is the legislative history of the FCPA. The Court can surely take notice of legislative history, and evaluate the utility and accuracy of Professor Koehler’s declaration for itself. But the Government’s claim that the declaration of a professor filed in another criminal proceeding and under penalty of perjury is somehow of lower status than a law-review article reviewed by law students strains credulity.”

It will be an interesting “foreign official” Fall in the 11th Circuit.

Kickbacks For Bugging Equipment

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

[This post is part of a periodic series regarding "old" Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement actions]

In 1989, the DOJ charged (see here) F.G. Mason Engineering Inc. (a Connecticut company that manufactured anti-bugging devices to detect the presence of electronic surveillance) and Francis Mason (the President and sole shareholder of the company) with conspiracy to violate the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions.  The conduct at issue focused on payments to Dirk Ekkehard Zoeller (a civilian employee of the West German Military Intelligence Services (“MAD”), an agency of the Ministry of the Defense) whose responsibilities included the selection, procurement and testing of various equipment for MAD and other agencies of the West German Government.

According to the criminal information, the amount of kickbacks to Zoeller were approximately 13% of the payments received by F.G. Mason Engineering from MAD under the procurement contracts and approximately 50% of the payments received by the company from MAD for service contracts.  The total amount of the corrupt payments to Zoeller was approximately $225,000.

The information alleged that the conspiracy permitted F.G. Mason Engineering to “obtain inflated and excessive prices on its contracts with MAD,” caused  “MAD and other agencies of the West German government to make excessive and unnecessary expenditures for the procurement and servicing” of the devices, and “deprived MAD and other agencies of the West German government of economically material information in their business dealings with F.G. Mason Engineering.”

F.G. Mason Engineering and Francis Mason pleaded guilty.  (See here and here for the plea agreements).  F.G. Mason Engineering and Francis Mason were ordered to pay a $75,000 fine to be paid jointly and severally.  F.G. Mason Engineering was placed on probation for two years and Francis Mason was placed on probation for five years. (See here and here).

The plea agreements note that the defendants agreed to “make restitution to the [West German government] which is the victim of the defendants’ illegal conduct.”  Specifically, the company was ordered to make restitution to the West German government “in the amount of $160,000 which will take the form of a credit granted by the company against monies to be paid to the company by the Ministry of Defense under existing contracts.”  In addition, the company agreed to “provide certain discounts on future purchases of equipment or services should such purchases be made by the German Government.”  In the plea agreements the defendants also agreed to cooperate in the West German prosecution of Zoeller.

According to this article, F.G. Mason Engineering also provided surveillance equipment to the U.S. government.  This internet source suggests that the company closed after the FCPA enforcement action.

Current And Former Alstom Employees Charged In Connection With Payments In Indonesia

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

The final catch-up post from recent FCPA enforcement activity – this one concerning the recently unsealed enforcement actions against David Rothschild and Frederic Pierucci.

First, what to make of this month’s enforcement activity?  Quite frankly, not much as I told Samuel Rubenfeld (Wall Street Journal) last week in this article.  Much of this “new” enforcement activity is really not ”new.”  For instance, the BizJet individual enforcement actions were filed in 2011 and in 2012, but recently unsealed.  Parker Drilling disclosed last year its settlement and the amount, it just took a while for resolution documents to be finalized.  It was publicly reported last year that former Siemens executive Uriel Sharef was going to settle the SEC enforcement action, it just took a while for the resolution documents to be finalized.  And finally, the charges against Rothschild and Pierucci discussed below were filed last year, but recently unsealed.

This post summarizes the Rothschild information (dated November 2, 2012) and plea agreement (dated November 2, 2012) and then the Pierucci indictment (dated November 27, 2012).

Pierucci, a French national, has been identified as a current executive of Alstom and he was arrested on April 14th at JFK airport in New York City.  Rothschild is a former vice president of sales for Alstom Power Inc., a Connecticut-based subsidiary of Alstom.

According to this report, Alstom said in a statement that it “has been working  constructively with the Justice Department for the last two years to address allegations of past misconduct.” It went on to say that Pierucci, its current executive, is entitled to the presumption of innocence.  “We urge everyone to respect the judicial process, which will provide a full  and fair opportunity for the facts to be adjudicated,” the statement read.

Rothschild Information

The conduct at issue concerned the Tarahan coal-fired steam power plant project in Indonesia.  According to the charging documents Perusahaan Listrik Negara (“PLN”) “the state-owned and state-controlled electricity company in Indonesia and an ‘agency’ and ‘instrumentality’ of a foreign government [...] was responsible for sourcing the Tarahan Project.

The officials allegedly involved were.

“Official 1  … a member of Parliament in Indonesia [who] had influence over the award of contracts by PLN, including on the Tarahan Project”

“Official 2 … a high-ranking official at PLN [who] had broad decision-making authority and influence over the award of contracts by PLN, including on the Tarahan Project”

“Official 3 … an official at PLN [who] was a high-ranking member of the evaluation committee for the Tarahan Project.  Official 3 had broad decision-making authority and influence over the award of the Tarahan contract.”

The information charges one count of conspiracy and alleges that Rothschild and others, between 2002 through 2009, conspired to make “corrupt payments to a member of Parliament in Indonesia, officials at PLN, and others in order to obtain and retain business related to the Tarahan Project on behalf of the following entities and in violation of the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions.

Alstom

Alstom Power Inc.

Power Company Switzerland – an indirect subsidiary of Alstom.

Power Company Indonesia – an indirect subsidiary of Alstom.

Consortium Partner – “a trading company … headquartered in Japan, incorporated in Japan, an in the business of providing power generation related services around the world.”  According to the information, this entity “acted as the partner” of the above Alstom entities “in the bidding and carrying out of the Tarahan Project in Indonesia.”  Consortium Partner would sure seem to be Marubeni Corp. of Japan.  (See here for its 2004 press release concerning the Tarahan Project).  This will be interesting to follow as Marubeni in 2012 resolved an FCPA enforcement action concerning conduct at Bonny Island, Nigeria (see here for the prior post) and is currently under a two year DPA.

Specifically the information alleges various telephone and e-mail communications between Rothschild and others concerning the alleged bribe payments and efforts to “conceal the payments to foreign officials by entering into consulting agreements with Consultant A (described as a “consultant who purportedly provided consulting related services [for the above companies] in connection with the Tarahan Project in Indonesia”) and Consultant B (same description) in order to disguise the bribe payment to the foreign officials.”

All of the alleged overt acts in the information allegedly occurred between 2002 and 2004, although the information does allege the following wire transfers:

In 2005 “200,064 from [Alstom Power Inc.'s] bank account to the bank account of Consultant A in Maryland”

In 2006 “200,064 from [Alstom Power Inc.'s] bank account to the bank account of Consultant A in Maryland”

In 2007 “200,064 from [Alstom Power Inc.'s] bank account to the bank account of Consultant A in Maryland”

In 2009, “66,688″ from [Alstom Power Inc.'s] bank account to the bank account of Consultant A in Maryland”

Other individuals generically identifed in the information include the following.

“Executive A – Senior Vice President for the Asia Region at [Alstom].  Executive A’s responsibilities at [Alstom] included oversight of [Alstom's] and [Alstom's] subsidiaries’ efforts to obtain contracts with new customers and to retain contracts with existing customers in Asia, including the Tarahan Project in Indonesia.”

“Executive B – who held executive level positions at [Alstom Power Inc.] and [Alstom], including Vice President of Global Sales [this is Pierucci].  Executive B’s responsibilities at [Alstom Power Inc.] included oversight of [Alstom Power Inc.] efforts to obtain contracts with new customers and to retain contracts with existing customers around the world, including the Tarahan Project in Indonesia.”

“Employee A - Vice President of Regional Sale at [Alstom Power Inc.]  Employee’s A’s responsibilities at [Alstom Power Inc.] included obtaining contracts with new customers retaining contracts with existing customers in various countries, including the Tarahan Project in Indonesia.”

“Employee B – the General Manager of Power Company Indonesia.  Employee B’s responsibilities at Power Company Indonesia including obtaining contracts with new customers and retaining contracts with existing customers in Indonesia, including the Tarahan Project in Indonesia.”

“Employee C – Director of Sales at Power Company Indonesia. Employee C’s responsibilities at Power Company Indonesia including obtaining contracts with new customers and retaining contracts with existing customers in Indonesia, including the Tarahan Project in Indonesia.”

In the plea agreement, Rothschild pleaded guilty to the one count information charging him with conspiracy to violate the FCPA.  According to the plea agreement, the offense carries a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.  Other than setting forth the DOJ’s recommendation that the court reduce by two levels Rothschild’s offense level “based on the defendant’s prompt recognition and affirmative acceptance of person responsibility,” the plea agreement does not set forth any further specifics concerning sentencing.

Pierucci Indictment

The indictment is based on the same core set of facts alleged above in the Rothschild information.  Because it is an indictment, and not an information, the Pierucci indictment is more detailed and indeed contains additional charges beyond the one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA.  In addition, Pierucci is charged with four substantive counts of FCPA anti-bribery violations, money laundering conspiracy and four substantive counts of money laundering.

In the indictment, the DOJ alleges that “Pierucci was one of the people responsible for approving the selection of, and authorizing payments to, Consultants A and B, knowing that a portion of the payments to Consultants A and B was intended for Indonesian officials in exchange for their influence and assistance in awarding the Tarahan Project contract to [Alstom] and its subsidiaries.”

The indictment further alleges that Pierucci and others “came to the conclusion that Consultant A was not effectively bribing key Indonesian officials” and accordingly in 2003 Pierucci and others concluded “that Consultant A would be responsible only for paying bribes to Official 1, a member of the Indonesian Parliament” and that Alstom and its subsidiaries would retain another consultant to pay bribes to PLN officials.”

In this release, Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman stated as follows.

“Frederic Pierucci and David Rothschild allegedly used outside consultants to bribe foreign officials in Indonesia in exchange for lucrative power contracts.  Stamping out foreign bribery is a Justice Department priority, and we are determined to continue our vigorous enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.”

Unsealed Documents In Enforcement Acton Against Former BizJet Executives Reveal A Trove Of Information

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

Yesterday’s post (here) summarized the criminal indictments against former BizJet executives Bernd Kowalewski and Jald Jensen.  Today’s post discusses the related criminal informations, based on the same core set of conduct, against former BizJet executives Peter DuBois (former Vice President of Sales & Marketing) and Neal Uhl (former Controller, Vice President of Finance).  As noted in the prior post, DuBois and Uhl agreed to plead guilty and were sentenced last week.

Today’s post also highlights documents recently unsealed in the DuBois and Uhl action which reveal a trove of information of interest to anyone curious about the inner workings of an FCPA enforcement action and connecting the dots to other FCPA enforcement actions.

DuBois was charged via a criminal information (here) with one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions and one substantive FCPA anti-bribery violation.  The conduct at issue is the same core set of conduct at issue in 2012 BizJet corporation action, as well as the criminal indictments against Kowalewski and Jensen.  That is a scheme to “obtain aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (“MRO”) service contracts and other business [for BizJet] from foreign government customers, including the Mexican Federal Police, the Mexican President’s Fleet, Sinaloa and the Panama Aviation Authority, by paying bribes to government officials employed by the foreign government customers.”

The DuBois information was filed on December 27, 2011 and the related motion by the DOJ to seal the docket (since unsealed) reveals the following.

As part of his plea agreement, DuBois worked in an undercover capacity for the government.  The motion specifically states as follows.  “As part of his work in an undercover capacity, Mr. DuBois has recorded conversations with former BizJet executives and other subjects of the government’s ongoing investigation.”  Later, the motion to seal states that “public identification of Mr. DuBois as a defendant who likely is cooperating with the government may jeopardize the undercover aspect of the government’s investigation.”

In the plea agreement, DuBois agreed to pay a forfeiture amount of $98,950 “representing proceeds derived by defendant in connection with the conspiracy” and to pay an additional $61,000 as the amount DuBois “received … as a result of his participation in the conspiracy.”

The DOJ’s memo in support of a downward departure for sentencing states as follows.

DuBois “assisted in the investigation from the outset and cooperated fully with the government throughout its investigation.  DuBois submitted to multiple interviews by the government and has assisted in every way that the government has asked.  DuBois told the truth to the government from the outset and continued to do so up until this very day.  DuBois’ cooperation not only assisted the government in connection with its investigation into BizJet, but also led to the investigation of another maintenance, repair, and overhaul company engaged in a similar scheme to pay bribes to government officials overseas.”

This last portion of the DOJ’s memo makes clear that the 2012 FCPA enforcement action against NORDAM Group (see here for the prior post) had its origins in the BizJet enforcement action.  Both BizJet and NORDAM Group are Tulsa, OK based aircraft maintenance companies.  The link and information about DuBois’ undercover role also raises the issue of whether individual prosecutions related to the NORDAM Group corporate enforcement action are also forthcoming.

As noted in the DOJ release, DuBois was sentenced to 60 months probation and eight months home detention.

Uhl was charged via a criminal information (here - filed on December 28, 2011) with one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions.  The conduct at issue is the same core set of conduct as indicated above, that is a scheme to “obtain aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (“MRO”) service contracts and other business [for BizJet] from foreign government customers, including the Mexican Federal Police, the Mexican President’s Fleet, Sinaloa and the Panama Aviation Authority, by paying bribes to government officials employed by the foreign government customers.”  See here for the Uhl plea agreement.

In the Uhl matter, the DOJ’s motion for a downward departure states as follows.

 Uhl ”agreed to a voluntary proffer session and, when confronted by the government, admitted to the illegal conduct.  Throughout the course of the investigation, Uhl was cooperative and provided truthful information that substantially assisted the government in confronting other co-conspirators and witnesses.  Uhl offered to assist in any way that he could.”

As noted in the DOJ release, Uhl was sentenced to 60 months probation, eight months home detention, and was ordered to pay a $10,000 fine.

The motions to seal in both the DuBois and Uhl actions further state as follows. ”BizJet’s corrupt payments were not limited to Mexico.  BizJet employees bribed key decision makers in a number of countries, including Panama, Brazil, and Chile.”  This is notable in that the 2012 BizJet corporate enforcement action made no mention of conduct in Brazil or Chile.  This demonstrates that resolution documents in a corporate FCPA enforcement action are the result of negotiations and that final documents rarely offer the complete picture of the conduct that allegedly occurred.

Both the DuBois and Uhl plea agreements further indicate that BizJet’s bribery scheme was not just in foreign countries.  Both plea agreements state that the customers or potential customers BizJet bribed “included customers both in the United States and abroad.