Archive for the ‘FCPA Inc.’ Category

Friday Roundup

Friday, May 8th, 2015

Roundup2The anti-bribery business, quotable, scrutiny alerts and updates, and for the reading stack.  It’s all here in the Friday Roundup.

“The Anti-Bribery Business”

Several articles have been written about FCPA Inc., a term I coined in April 2010 (see here), as well as the “facade of FCPA enforcement” (see here for my 2010 article of the same name).

The articles have included: “Cashing in on Corruption” (Washington Post); “The Bribery Racket” (Forbes); and “FCPA Inc. and the Business of Bribery” (Wall Street Journal).

I talked at length with The Economist about the above topics and certain of my comments are included in this recent article “The Anti-Bribery Business.”

“The huge amount of work generated for internal and external lawyers and for compliance staff is the result of firms bending over backwards to be co-operative, in the hope of negotiating reduced penalties. Some are even prepared to waive the statute of limitations for the conclusion of their cases. They want to be sure they have answered the “Where else?” question: where in the world might the firm have been engaging in similar practices?

In doing so, businesses are egged on by what Mr Koehler calls “FCPA Inc”. This is “a very aggressively marketed area of the law,” he says, “with no shortage of advisers financially incentivised to tell you the sky is falling in.” Convinced that it is, the bosses of accused companies will then agree to any measure, however excessive, to demonstrate that they have comprehensively answered the “Where else?” question. So much so that even some law enforcers have started telling them to calm down. Last year Leslie Caldwell, head of the DOJ’s criminal division, said internal investigations were sometimes needlessly broad and costly, delaying resolution of matters. “We do not expect companies to aimlessly boil the ocean,” she said.

Her words have provided scant comfort: defence lawyers say that their clients feel that if they investigate problems less exhaustively, they risk giving the impression that they are withholding information. Some say the DOJ is maddeningly ambiguous, encouraging firms to overreact when allegations surface.”

Quotable

Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell is spot-on in this recent Q&A in Fraud Magazine as to the importance of uniquely tailored compliance.

“I think companies have to tailor their compliance programs and their investigative mechanisms to their businesses. There’s no one-size-fits-all compliance program. Different businesses have different risks. And a company needs to do an assessment that’s very tailored to their risks and game out what could go wrong and figure out how to prevent that from happening.”

She is less than clear though when describing when the DOJ would like companies to voluntarily disclose:

“We don’t want a company to wait until they’ve completed their own investigation before they come to us. We’ll give them room to do that, but there may be investigative steps that we want to take that maybe the company is not even capable of taking. We definitely don’t want to send a message that the company should complete its own investigation and then come to us. However, we obviously don’t expect a company to report to us as soon as it receives a hotline report that it hasn’t even checked into yet.”

For your viewing pleasure, here is the video of a recent speech by Caldwell (previously highlighted here) along with Q&A.

Scrutiny Alerts and Updates

Bilfinger

Reuters reports:

“German engineering firm Bilfinger has become the first international company to disclose to Brazil that it may have paid bribes as it seeks leniency under a new anti-corruption law, Comptroller General Valdir Simão said on Thursday. By reporting potential graft to the comptroller, known by the acronym CGU, Bilfinger hopes to continue operating in Brazil, Simão said, though it may still pay damages. ”The company knows it will be punished in Brazil; it is not exempt from fines,” Simao said at a conference in Sao Paulo adding that in exchange the company could be guaranteed the right to keep operating in Brazil. Companies that are convicted for bribery could be banned from future contracts in Brazilunder the law, which took effect in January 2014. Bilfinger said in March that it may have paid 1 million euros to public officials in Brazil in connection with orders for large screens for security control centers during the 2014 soccer World Cup. It is conducting an internal investigation and collaborating with Brazilian authorities, Bilfinger said in a statement at the time. Five companies are pursuing leniency deals with the CGU, Simao said, adding that such deals are “quite new” for the country. Four are tied to a scandal at Brazil’s state-run oil firm Petroleo Brasileiro SA, he said.”

As highlighted in this previous post, in December 2013 German-based Bilfinger paid approximately $32 million to resolve an FCPA enforcement action concerning alleged conduct in Nigeria.  The enforcement action was resolved via a three-year deferred prosecution agreement.

Siemens

Reuters reports:

“A Chinese regulator investigated Siemens AG last year over whether the German group’s healthcare unit and its dealers bribed hospitals to buy expensive disposable products used in some of its medical devices, three people with knowledge of the probe told Reuters. The investigation, which has not previously been reported, follows a wide-reaching probe into the pharmaceutical industry in China that last year saw GlaxoSmithKline Plc fined nearly $500 million for bribing officials to push its medicine sales. China’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) accused Siemens and its dealers of having violated competition law by donating medical devices in return for agreements to exclusively buy the chemical reagents needed to run the machines from Siemens, the people said.”

In 2008, Siemens paid $800 million to resolve DOJ and SEC FCPA enforcement actions that were widespread in scope.  The enforcement action remains the largest of all-time in terms of overall settlement amount.

Dun & Bradstreet

The company recently disclosed the following update regarding its FCPA scrutiny.

“On March 18, 2012, we announced we had temporarily suspended our Shanghai Roadway D&B Marketing Services Co. Ltd. (“Roadway”) operations in China, pending an investigation into allegations that its data collection practices may have violated local Chinese consumer data privacy laws. Thereafter, the Company decided to permanently cease the operations of Roadway. In addition, we have been reviewing certain allegations that we may have violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and certain other laws in our China operations. As previously reported, we have voluntarily contacted the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and the United States Department of Justice (“DOJ”) to advise both agencies of our investigation, and we are continuing to meet with representatives of both the SEC and DOJ in connection therewith. Our investigation remains ongoing and is being conducted at the direction of the Audit Committee.

During the three months ended March 31, 2015 , we incurred $0.4 million of legal and other professional fees related to matters in China, as compared to $0.3 million of legal and other professional fees related to matters in China for the three months ended March 31, 2014.

As our investigation and our discussions with both the SEC and DOJ are ongoing, we cannot yet predict the ultimate outcome of the matter or its impact on our business, financial condition or results of operations. Based on our discussions with the SEC and DOJ, including an indication from the SEC in February and March 2015 of its initial estimate of the amount of net benefit potentially earned by the Company as a result of the challenged activities, we continue to believe that it is probable that the Company will incur a loss related to the government’s investigation. We will be meeting with the Staff of the SEC to obtain and to further understand the assumptions and methodologies underlying their current estimate of net benefit and will subsequently provide a responsive position. The DOJ also advised the Company in February 2015 that they will be proposing terms of a potential settlement, but we are unable to predict the timing or terms of any such proposal. Accordingly, we are unable at this time to reasonably estimate the amount or range of any loss, although it is possible that the amount of such loss could be material.”

Bio-Rad

The company disclosed as follows concerning civil litigation filed in the aftermath of its November 2014 FCPA enforcement action (see here for the prior post).

“On January 23, 2015, the City of Riviera Beach General Employees’ Retirement System filed a new shareholder derivative lawsuit in the Superior Court of Contra Costa County against three of our current directors and one former director. We are also named as a nominal defendant. In the complaint, the plaintiff alleges that our directors breached their fiduciary duty of loyalty by failing to ensure that we had sufficient internal controls and systems for compliance with the FCPA; that we failed to provide adequate training on the FCPA; and that based on these actions, the directors have been unjustly enriched. Purportedly seeking relief on our behalf, the plaintiff seeks an award of restitution and unspecified damages, costs and expenses (including attorneys’ fees). We and the individual defendants have filed a demurrer requesting dismissal of the complaint in this case.

On January 30, 2015, we received a demand pursuant to Section 220 of the Delaware General Corporation Law from the law firm of Scott + Scott LLP on behalf of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 38 Pension Fund to inspect certain of our books and records. The alleged purpose of the demand is to investigate potential wrongdoing, mismanagement, and breach of fiduciary duties by our directors and executive officers in connection with the matters relating to our FCPA settlement with the SEC and DOJ, and alleged lack of internal controls. We objected to the demand on procedural grounds by letter. On May 1, 2015, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 38 Pension Fund filed an action against us in the Delaware Court of Chancery to compel the inspection of the requested books and records.

On March 13, 2015, we received a demand pursuant to Section 220 of the Delaware General Corporation Law from the law firm of Kirby McInerney LLP on behalf of Wayne County Employees’ Retirement System to inspect certain of our books and records. The alleged purpose of the demand is to investigate potential wrongdoing, mismanagement, and breach of fiduciary duties by our directors and executive officers in connection with the matters relating to our FCPA settlement with the SEC and DOJ, and alleged lack of internal controls. We objected to the demand on procedural grounds by letter. On April 21, 2015, Wayne County Employees’ Retirement System filed an action against us in the Delaware Court of Chancery to compel the inspection of the requested books and records.”

Nortek

The company disclosed its FCPA scrutiny earlier this year and stated as follows in its recent quarterly filing:

“For the first quarter of 2015 approximately $1 million was recorded for legal and other professional services incurred related to the internal investigation of this matter. The Company expects to incur additional costs relating to the investigation of this matter throughout 2015.”

For the Reading Stack

From Global Compliance News by Baker & McKenzie titled “When a DPA is DOA:  What The Increasing Judicial Disapproval of Corporate DPAs Means for Corporate Resolutions With the U.S. Government.”

“The legal setting in which corporations are negotiating with U.S. regulators is always evolving. Federal judges’ increasing willingness to second-guess negotiated settlements between the government and corporations is likely to encourage government attorneys to seek even more onerous settlements to ensure that judges do not reject them or criticize the agency in open court. Companies and their counsel should be ready to push back, using the judicial scrutiny to their advantage where possible.”

*****

A good weekend to all.

Friday Roundup

Friday, April 24th, 2015

Roundup2Really no big deal, scrutiny alerts, across the pond, quotable, and for your viewing pleasure.  It’s all here in the Friday roundup.

Really No Big Deal

Lockheed’s request (which the SEC does not oppose) to be relieved of an SEC permanent injunction stemming from a 1976 (pre-FCPA) enforcement action has been receiving some recent ink (see here and here ”Lockheed Wants Out of 40-Year Old Disclosure Demand”).

I don’t really see this as a big deal given that Lockheed’s reporting obligation is not disappearing, it’s just now subject to a more specific law.

As stated in the unopposed motion:

“On April 13, 1976, the Commission filed a Complaint against Lockheed Martin for violations of Sections 10(b), 13(a), and 14(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (and the Commission’s Rules promulgated thereunder) arising out of alleged payments to foreign government officials in the early 1970s. Simultaneous with the filing of the Commission’s Complaint, Lockheed Martin consented to the entry of a final judgment of permanent injunction (the “Final Judgment”) without admitting or denying the Commission’s non jurisdictional allegations.

The Final Judgment was entered by the Court that same day. The Final Judgment incorporated by reference a “Consent and Undertaking” entered into and filed by Lockheed Martin (the “Consent”), pursuant to which Lockheed Martin agreed to undertake several remedial actions. [...] Those actions included (a) the creation of an independent Special Committee to conduct an investigation into the matters alleged in the Commission’s Complaint; (b) the preparation and submission of a full report of the Special Committee’s investigation to the Court, the Commission, and Lockheed Martin’s Board of Directors; and (c) the adoption of a “Statement of Policies and Procedures” regarding “unlawful payments to government officials” (hereinafter “Anti-Corruption Policies and Procedures”).  In addition, Lockheed Martin agreed that it would file a Form 8-K with the Commission at least 10 days in advance of any future changes to its Anti-Corruption Policies and Procedures.  This prospective requirement—which Lockheed Martin has now complied with for nearly four decades—is the only aspect of the Final Judgment at issue in this motion.

In 2003, the Commission issued a final rule implementing Section 406 of the SarbanesOxley Act of 2002 (the “Sarbanes-Oxley Act”), which directed the Commission to devise and promulgate requirements for the disclosure of “codes of ethics” by public companies. The final rule defines a “code of ethics” as “written standards that are reasonably designed to deter wrongdoing and to promote,” among other things, “[c]ompliance with applicable governmental laws, rules and regulations.”  The Commission’s final rule requires public companies to disclose their codes of ethics to the public by either (i) filing them as an exhibit to an annual report (on Form 10-K), or (ii) posting them on the company’s website. The final rule also requires that certain types of changes to a company’s code of ethics must be disclosed within four business days of the change where the company elects to disclose its code of ethics on its website.

In light of the Commission’s final rule, Lockheed Martin—like many other public companies—has elected to make its code of ethics (as well as certain other corporate policies) available to the public by posting them on its corporate website. Among other things, Lockheed Martin’s “Code of Ethics and Business Conduct”—which applies to anyone “conducting business on behalf of Lockheed Martin” (including, but not limited to, its employees), and is made available in 16 different languages—requires strict compliance with all applicable anticorruption laws, including the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”). Lockheed Martin also makes its more detailed policy on “Compliance with the Anti-Corruption Laws” available on its website. By virtue of the Final Judgment, however, Lockheed Martin must continue to file a Form 8-K before making any change to its Anti-Corruption Policies and Procedures, notwithstanding its compliance with the Commission’s final rule.”

Scrutiny Alerts

Interpublic Group

The bribery and corruption news from Brazil continues to flow.  First it was Petrobras-related bribery, then it was various corporate interactions with tax authorities, and now it is advertising industry.

Advertising Age reports

“A former executive at Lowe & Partners’ Brazilian agency, Borghi/Lowe, was detained by police last Friday and a federal judge authorized the agency’s financial and other records to be searched … Ricardo Hoffman, Borghi/Lowe’s former VP and head of the agency’s office in the nation’s capital Brasilia, is said by Federal judge Sergio Moro [...] to have instructed third parties to make payments to then-Congressman Andre Vargas in connection with two government accounts handled by Borghi/Lowe.”

Lowe & Partners is a unit of The Interpublic Group of Companies, Inc., a New York based company.

See here for a 1989 FCPA enforcement action against an advertising agency and various executives.

SOCO International

Voice of America highlights allegations of bribery and corruption in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) by London-based SOCO (a company with ADRs registered with the SEC).

According to the article:

“A member of DRC’s Parliament allegedly admitted to taking monthly payments from SOCO to lobby for the oil company and a high-level SOCO official and a company contractor allegedly admitted that the company paid rebels.

[...]

SOCO has “categorically denied” corruption allegations.

“The company operates in accordance with the [British] Bribery Act of 2010, and any allegation to the contrary is categorically denied,” SOCO said in a statement [...]. “Payments to rebel groups have never been, or will ever be, sanctioned by SOCO.”

Across the Pond

thebriberyact.com highlights the 5th birthday of the U.K. Bribery Act (from the date passed, not the date the law went live – July 1, 2011) and asks – “the Bribery Act has moved from crawling to walking.  Anyone for cake?”  The post notes:

“The Bribery Act was born amid a huge public fanfare, plenty of hype and lots press coverage. Prosecutions would be imminent and UK PLC would be seriously disadvantaged on the global stage as a result of the ‘red tape’ of the Bribery Act. In 2015 it is hard to square the reality of what happened with what the naysayers forecast.  A handful of individual prosecutions under the Act but none of them are ‘Bribery Act’ cases in the true sense of the word. Put another way, the hype around the Bribery Act focussed on the potential enforcement of new UK anti-corruption laws against corporates UK and foreign who fell under the long arm jurisdiction of the Act. To date, there has been no corporate prosecution launched and no Deferred Prosecution Agreement disposing of a Bribery Act case. Five years on the UK economy is the strongest in Europe and predictions of the the demise of UK PLC turn out to have been premature. So.  What was all the fuss about?”

Precisely.  Here was my two cents on the date the Bribery Act went live in 2011.

“As with any new law, there is likely to be a learning phase for both the enforcement agencies and those subject to the law. That was certainly the case in the U.S. in the years following passage of the FCPA in 1977. Thus, it very well may be the case that there are no enforcement actions for some time (recognizing that it often takes a few years from beginning of an inquiry to resolution of an action). Thus the greatest immediate impact of the Bribery Act is sure to be the compliance ethic it inspires. I expect that the enforcement actions that may develop over time to focus on egregious instances of corporate conduct on which no reasonable minds would disagree. I do not get the sense, based on public comments of the Ministry of Justice and the Serious Fraud Office, that the envelope will be pushed too far in the early years of the Bribery Act.”

Quotable

In this recent Q&A on the FCPA Compliance and Ethics Blog, James Koukios, a lawyer who recently left the DOJ’s FCPA Unit for private practice, states:

“Because the Fraud Section has the exclusive mandate for FCPA prosecutions, we were able to formulate—and execute—policy decisions in a manner that, I believe, had a significant impact on corporate compliance programs and the global anti-corruption movement.”

As I have long argued, special enforcement policies require special rules.  As to DOJ and SEC FCPA enforcement attorneys who have supervisory and discretionary positions and articulate government FCPA policies, it is in the public interest that such individuals be prohibited, upon leaving government service, from providing FCPA defense or compliance services in the private sector for a five-year period.

For Your Viewing Pleasure

Calling all Judge Jed Rakoff fans.  In this video of a recent speech, Judge Rakoff talks about corporate criminal liability and judicial review of NPAs and DPAs.

*****

A good weekend to all.

Friday Roundup

Friday, April 10th, 2015

Roundup2Making a difference, to FCPA Inc., and scrutiny alert.  It’s all here in the Friday roundup.

Making a Difference

In running this website, I sometimes feel like the captain of a small ship on a wide vast ocean.  My metrics tell me that many people are reading, but is the content on FCPA Professor making a difference?  Many people have told me that it is and I could cite several examples such as the most recent one.

On April 2nd, FCPA Professor published this post about the recent decision from the W.D. of Ark. in the Wal-Mart FCPA-related derivative actions.  The post highlighted two errors in the court’s decision.

“In a footnote, Judge Hickey’s order states: “The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act prohibits United States companies from bribing foreign officials to secure improper business advantage.”

This is an inaccurate statement of law.

Rather, the FCPA contains an “obtain or retain business” element that must be proved.  Indeed, the DOJ’s position that the FCPA captures payments to “secure an improper business advantage” wholly apart from the “obtain or retain business” element has been specifically rejected by courts. (See here for the prior post).

The inaccurate statement of law in the order is perhaps not surprising given that the Judge referred to the FCPA as the “Federal Corrupt Practices Act.”

I am happy to see that a day later, on April 3rd, the court issued an amended order to “reflect the correction of minor typographical errors.”

The above referenced footnote (and its substance) no longer appear in the decision and reference to the “Federal” Corrupt Practices Act has been removed.

 To FCPA Inc.

It happens so often it is difficult to keep track of, but I try my best.

Earlier this week, Morrison & Foerster announced:

James Koukios, who served in the Fraud Section of the Criminal Division at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), most recently as Senior Deputy Chief, has joined the firm’s Washington, D.C. office as a partner in the Securities Litigation, Enforcement & White-Collar Criminal Defense Practice Group.

Mr. Koukios is the second high-ranking DOJ prosecutor to join MoFo in the past year, following the 2014 arrival of former Fraud Section Deputy Chief Charles Duross, who served as head of the DOJ’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) Unit. In his most recent position, Mr. Koukios oversaw the FCPA, Health Care Fraud, and Securities and Financial Fraud Units. With the addition of Mr. Koukios, who previously served as an Assistant Chief in the FCPA Unit and tried two of the most significant FCPA cases in the past decade, MoFo is the only law firm in the world with two former FCPA Unit managers.

[...]

During his tenure at DOJ, Mr. Koukios worked with domestic and foreign law enforcement authorities around the globe. He tried nearly two dozen jury cases, serving as a lead trial attorney in two landmark FCPA-enforcement trials: Esquenazi and Duperval.”

Not to dissect the MoFo press release too much, but the Duperval case was not an “FCPA-enforcement” trial. Rather, it was a non-FCPA case against the alleged “foreign official” in the Esquenazi case and directly related to the Esquenazi case.

Scrutiny Alert

The Wall Street reports on a bribery probe separate and distinct from the ongoing Petrobras probe.  According to the article:

“Prosecutors said 74 companies and 24 individuals are under investigation. None have been named publicly and no charges have been filed. But a leading investigator on the case said companies under investigation include Ford Motor Brazil, a unit of Ford Motor Co.; JBS, the world’s largest meatpacker, the Brazilian unit of the Spanish bank Banco Santander SA; and Brazil’s second largest private-sector bank, Bradesco SA.

[...]

Brazil’s tax system is among the most onerous and complex in the world. Penalties can be steep. That has fostered an environment where corruption can flourish, experts say.

“Taxes in Brazil are so high and complicated that it is easy for companies to get in trouble with the taxman,” the leading investigator told The Wall Street Journal. The investigator said frequent tax disputes created opportunities for ill-intentioned public servants to profit by helping firms circumvent red tape.”

Speaking of the Petrobras inquiry, the Wall Street Journal goes in-depth here.

*****

A good weekend to all.

Friday Roundup

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

Roundup2Looking for talent – got talent, FBI announcement, Bourke related, to FCPA Inc., and for the reading stack.  It’s all here in the Friday Roundup.

Looking for FCPA Talent?  Got Talent

If your firm or organization is looking for either a summer associate or full-time lawyer with a solid foundation in the FCPA, FCPA enforcement, and FCPA compliance, please e-mail me at fcpaprofessor@gmail.com. I teach one of the only FCPA specific law school classes in the country (see here) and my Southern Illinois University law students who excelled in the class have, I am confident in saying, more practical skills and knowledge on FCPA topics than other law students.

I can recommend several students and I encourage you to give them an opportunity.

FBI Announcement

The FBI recently announced the establishment of international corruption squads.  In pertinent part, the release states:

“The FCPA … makes it illegal for U.S. companies, U.S. persons, and foreign corporations with certain U.S. ties to bribe foreign officials to obtain or retain business overseas. And we take these crimes very seriously—foreign bribery has the ability to impact U.S. financial markets, economic growth, and national security. It also breaks down the international free market system by promoting anti-competitive behavior and, ultimately, makes consumers pay more.

We’re seeing that foreign bribery incidents are increasingly tied to a type of government corruption known as kleptocracy, which is when foreign officials steal from their own government treasuries at the expense of their citizens. And that’s basically what these foreign officials are doing when they accept bribes in their official capability for personal gain, sometimes using the U.S. banking system to hide and/or launder their criminal proceeds.

The FBI—in conjunction with the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Fraud Section—recently announced another weapon in the battle against foreign bribery and kleptocracy-related criminal activity: the establishment of three dedicated international corruption squads, based in New York City, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.

Special Agent George McEachern, who heads up our International Corruption Unit at FBI Headquarters, explains that the squads were created to address the national and international implications of corruption. “The FCPA allows us to target the supply side of corruption—the entities giving the bribes,” he said. “Kleptocracy cases allow us to address the demand side—the corrupt officials and their illicit financial assets. By placing both threats under one squad, we anticipate that an investigation into one of these criminal activities could potentially generate an investigation into the other.”

Corruption cases in general are tough to investigate because much of the actual criminal activity is hidden from view. But international corruption cases are even tougher because the criminal activity usually takes place outside of the U.S. However, members of these three squads—agents, analysts, and other professional staff—have a great deal of experience investigating white-collar crimes and, in particular, following the money trail in these crimes. And they’ll have at their disposal a number of investigative tools the Bureau uses so successfully in other areas—like financial analysis, court-authorized wiretaps, undercover operations, informants, and sources.

Partnerships with our overseas law enforcement counterparts—facilitated by our network of legal attaché offices situated strategically around the world—are an important part of our investigative arsenal. The FBI also takes part in a number of international working groups, including the Foreign Bribery Task Force, to share information with our partners and help strengthen investigative efforts everywhere. And we coordinate with DOJ’s Fraud Section—which criminally prosecutes FCPA violators—and the Securities and Exchange Commission—which uses civil actions to go after U.S. companies engaging in foreign bribery.

Our new squads will help keep the Bureau at the forefront of U.S. and global law enforcement efforts to battle international corruption and kleptocracy.”

Bourke Related

This October 2013 post highlighted a Democracy Now program that attempted to re-script the Frederic Bourke FCPA enforcement action.

Democracy Now returns to the story in this recent interview with former U.S. Senator George Mitchell.  Mitchell, like Bourke, invested in the Azeri project at issue, but unlike Bourke was not prosecuted.

Set forth below is the Q&A:

Democracy Now: Do you believe [Bourke] is a whistleblower, and do you believe that he should be exonerated.

Mitchell: Well, I believe that he should not have been convicted in the trial, in which conviction did occur. I think it was a very unfortunate circumstance, and as you describe it, regrettable from Rick Bourke’s standpoint.

Democracy Now: Do you believe he should now be exonerated, to be able to clear his name fully?

Mitchell: Well, yes, but I’m not sure what process would occur. He was tried, convicted. The conviction was upheld on appeal. But, as I said, I repeat, I do not believe he should have been convicted in the first place.

As noted in the prior post, while each is entitled to his/her own opinion about the Bourke case, the fact is – the case received more judicial scrutiny than arguably any other FCPA enforcement action.

To FCPA Inc.

It happens so often it is difficult to keep track of, but I try my best.

In the latest example of a DOJ FCPA enforcement attorney departing for FCPA Inc., Sidley Austin recently announced that James Cole (former DOJ Deputy Attorney General) “ has joined the firm in Washington, D.C. as a partner in its White Collar: Government Litigation & Investigations practice.”  As stated in the release, ““[Cole's] experience at the highest levels of law enforcement will enable him to counsel our clients facing the most difficult and complex challenges.”  Cole’s law firm bio states that he will focus “his practice on the full range of federal enforcement and internal investigation matters, with a particular emphasis on cross-border and multi-jurisdictional matters.”

While at the DOJ, Cole frequently articulated DOJ FCPA positions and enforcement policies.  (See here for example).

For the Reading Stack

From Professor Peter Henning in his New York Times Dealbook column – “Lawmakers Focus on How the SEC Does Its Job.”

From Miller & Chevalier attorneys – “DOJ is Losing the Battle to Prosecute Foreign Executives.”  An informative article regarding the DOJ’s struggles to prosecute foreign nationals for a variety of offenses (antitrust, FCPA, etc.).

An informative article here in the New York Law Journal by Marcus Asner and Daniel Ostrow  titled “A New Focus On Victims’ Rights in FCPA Restitution Cases.”

An interesting read here from the Wall Street Journal regarding China National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Corp (Cotfco), a state-owned enterprise.

“In a few short years, Cofco has spent a couple billion dollars quietly buying up Australian cane fields, French vineyards and soybean pastures in Brazil, helping it become one of the world’s largest food companies. Now, Cofco is exploring deals in the world’s biggest exporter of agricultural commodities: the U.S.”

Weekend assignment:  are Cofco employees Chinese “foreign officials” under the 11th Circuit’s Esquenazi decision?

*****

A good weekend to all and “On Wisconsin.”

Time Out Regarding Certain Goodyear Commentary

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

TIme OutPardon me for being that guy, but in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act space someone needs to put on the stripes because the information gatekeepers of much FCPA content tend to be non-lawyer journalists writing stories by cobbling together the views of experts who use the opportunity to comment as free marketing for FCPA compliance and investigative services.

And let’s call a spade a spade, FCPA practitioners often have a self-interest in more FCPA investigations, more voluntary disclosures, more enforcement actions and more post-enforcement action compliance obligations.

Much to my surprise, the recent SEC administrative action against Goodyear (see here for the prior post) has generated an unusual amount of commentary.  Indeed, in the days that followed I was contacted by numerous media outlets but my consistent response was along the following lines: ”There is nothing noteworthy or special about the Goodyear FCPA enforcement action.  The media and law firm coverage of this otherwise ordinary settlement is just the latest example of FCPA Inc. using enforcement actions as opportunities to market FCPA compliance services.”

So in the spirit of March Madness, I call a time out regarding certain Goodyear commentary.

A Law360 article titled “Attorneys React to SEC’s FCPA Action Against Goodyear” contained a roundup of sorts of attorney comments.

One practitioner stated:

“Today’s settlement demonstrates that the SEC and the DOJ are continuing to investigate and bring high-profile FCPA cases against large U.S. companies with multinational operations.”

Whoops, wrong talking point as the Goodyear enforcement action was SEC only with no DOJ component.

Another practitioner stated:

“In recent years … the SEC adopted an increasingly broad view of parent-subsidiary liability, now charging parent corporations with anti-bribery violations based on the acts of their subsidiaries without pleading any direct involvement by the parent in those violations. Goodyear is the latest example of this trend.”

Whoops, again the wrong talking point as Goodyear: (i) was not “charged” with anything (the enforcement action was an SEC cease and desist proceeding); and (ii) the SEC merely “found” violations of the books and records and internal controls provisions – not the anti-bribery provisions.

Another frequent observation from commentators was that the Goodyear action evidences how the SEC is “pursuing” commercial bribery cases given that the SEC enforcement action made generic references to alleged payments to private customers in connection with tire sales.

Let’s go to the monitor for this one.  The Goodyear enforcement action, like most corporate FCPA enforcement actions, was based on a voluntary disclosure.”  Can the word “pursue” really be used to describe enforcement actions that originate from voluntary disclosures?  Or would it be more accurate to say that the SEC “processed” the company’s voluntary disclosure?

Another frequent observation from commentators was how Goodyear “staved off criminal prosecution and fines” through its voluntary disclosure and cooperation.

Time out on this one, and not just a 30-second time out, but a full one.

There is no allegation or suggestion in the SEC enforcement action that Goodyear was involved in or had knowledge of the alleged improper conduct at its subsidiaries.  A parent company like Goodyear is a separate and distinct entity from its foreign subsidiaries and is not automatically liable for foreign subsidiary conduct – including potential anti-bribery violations – absent knowledge, approval, or participation in the bribery scheme.  In other words, criminal legal liability does not ordinary hop, skip and jump around a multinational corporation absent an alter ego analysis or control / participation in the underlying conduct.

On the other hand, the SEC takes the position that because foreign subsidiary books and records are consolidated with the parent company’s for purposes of financial reporting that subsidiary books and records issues are parent company issues.  As to internal controls, the SEC takes the seemingly simplistic position that because certain alleged payments were made by foreign subsidiaries, the parent company issuer must not have had effective internal controls.

In other words, based on the SEC’s allegations – or lack thereof – what criminal prosecution did Goodyear stave off?

And then there were the comments seeking to invoke fear – a common FCPA Inc. marketing device.  One practitioner stated:

“[The Goodyear action] could presage an uptick in enforcement activity in Africa, which has attracted increased global investment and, in certain countries, posted impressive recent economic growth. Despite these advancements, several African countries remain high on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index. As such, the [enforcement action] provides a clear reminder of the need to conduct appropriate pre- and post-acquisition due diligence on businesses operating in regions and industries that pose a high corruption risk.”

Another frequent comment, sure to induce March “madness” in informed readers, was the comparison to the settlement amount in Goodyear compared to say, Avon or Alcoa.

This article asserted as follows. ”For Goodyear … coming clean seems to have paid off—at least compared to the penalty imposed on Avon Products Inc. in December.”

For starters, the Avon enforcement action – like the Goodyear enforcement action – was the result of a voluntary disclosure.

Second, and most importantly, FCPA settlement amounts are largely a function of the net financial benefit obtained through the alleged improper payments.  Thus comparing one settlement to another is of little value.

A full time-out is also needed to comment on this Wall Street Journal Risk & Compliance Journal which carried the headline “Lawyers Point to Goodyear As a Model In Its Handling of Bribery Probe.”  Based on the views of two FCPA practitioners, the article asserts that the Goodyear enforcement action provides a ”model for companies to emulate when they discover misconduct in their own firms.”

I beg to differ.

The conduct at issue in the SEC’s enforcement action was very limited in scope (compared to Goodyear’s overall business operations) and the company learned of the alleged improper conduct through an effective internal control  - a report through the company’s confidential ethics hotline.

Given these circumstances, a perfectly acceptable, legitimate and legal response would have been for Goodyear to thoroughly investigate the issues, promptly implement remedial measures, and effectively revise and enhance compliance policies and procedures – all internally and without disclosing to the enforcement agencies.

Indeed, as recently noted in this Global Investigations Review article, James Koukios (Senior Deputy Chief of DOJ’s Fraud Section) recently stated: “We understand that sometimes companies choose not to self-report, and it is not always the wrong thing to do. I think a lot of it depends on how serious the issue is and whether it is an issue that can be investigated, addressed, remediated internally, and is more of a one-off versus systemic problem.”

Likewise, as former DOJ FCPA enforcement attorney Billy Jacobson notes in this recent WSJ Risk & Compliance Journal article “more and more companies are making the decision not to disclose instead they remediate controls, get rid of culpable individuals and clean up compliance internally.”

In short, Goodyear’s decision to voluntarily disclose was not necessarily a model for other companies to emulate.  Indeed a credible argument can be made that Goodyear’s decision was a poor decision that caused needless expenditure of shareholder money. Although, to my knowledge Goodyear did not disclose it pre-enforcement action professional fees and expenses, in a typical FCPA enforcement action, such professional fees and expenses exceed (often by ratios of 3, 5, or more) the enforcement action settlement amount – which in the case of Goodyear was $16 million.

Moreover, as a condition of settlement, Goodyear was required to report to the SEC, “at no less than 12 month intervals during a three year term” on the status of its remediation and implementation of compliance measures.”  As highlighted in this prior post, this is little more than a government required transfer of shareholder wealth to FCPA Inc.