Scrutiny alerts, corruption in China, quotable, and for the reading stack. It’s all here in the Friday leftover version of the roundup.
Caribbean News Now reports here as follows.
“A complaint has been filed with the Department of Justice (DOJ) in the United States under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) in relation to a contract purporting to grant oil exploration rights over some eight million acres of Saint Lucia’s maritime territory. The 46-page complaint, which Caribbean News Now has seen, names Saint Lucia’s prime minister, Dr Kenny Anthony, and RSM Production Company (RSM), a Texas company, along with its president Jack J. Grynberg. Caribbean News Now has also seen a written notification confirming receipt of the document by the DOJ.
Specifically, the complaint notes that, in or about February 2000, Anthony, as then minister of finance, planning and sustainable development, signed a contract with RSM that purported to grant the company an “Exploration License” in respect of territorial maritime resources belonging to Saint Lucia amounting to 8,726,263 acres. However, under Saint Lucia’s Minerals Vesting Act, all minerals in, on or under any land in Saint Lucia are vested in and controlled by the Crown and only the governor general may grant a licence to prospect for and/or mine such minerals. Further, although the contract provides that RSM shall pay a royalty to “the Government” (as required by section 5 of the Minerals Vesting Act), it goes on to state that the liability of RSM in this respect shall be discharged by paying such royalty to the minister and not the government.”
Reuters reports here as follows.
“The U.S. Justice Department is probing Morgan Stanley for its hiring practices in China as part of an industry-wide investigation by the government into whether banks’ employment of politically connected Chinese breached U.S. bribery laws, according to people familiar with the matter. As part of the industry sweep, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sent letters to Morgan Stanley and other banks, including Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, seeking information about their hiring practices, according to several people familiar with the matter. The SEC has asked the financial services firms to provide information about their hiring of the relatives of government officials in China …”.
This is not a surprising development following the New York Times August story regarding JPMorgan (see here for the prior post).
Corruption in China
The Congressional-Executive Commission on China recently held a roundtable on “Corruption in China Today: Consequences for Governance, Human Rights, and Commercial Rule of Law.” As stated on the Commission’s website:
“Corruption takes many forms in China, from corrupt officials at all levels using their public office for private gain and seizing land for development to corrupt state-owned enterprises gaming the system to their advantage. Corruption also continues to be among the root causes of rights abuses against Chinese citizens. Senior leaders acknowledge that corruption threatens the legitimacy of the Communist Party and contributes to citizen dissatisfaction, and President Xi Jinping has stated that fighting corruption is a high priority. But Chinese authorities continue to crack down on independent and citizen-led efforts to combat corruption. Panelists will discuss corruption among Chinese high-level officials and recent anti-corruption efforts, and explore corruption’s role in human rights violations. Panelists also will examine corruption linked to state-owned and other enterprises and explore the implications for commercial rule of law.”
Among the panelists were Professor Daniel Chow (Ohio State) (see here for his statement). In 2012, I was pleased to play a role, along with Professor Chow and the staff of the Ohio State Law Journal, in organizing “The FCPA at Thirty-Five and Its Impact on Global Business,” a full-day symposium at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. (See here).
On his Corruption, Crime & Compliance site, Michael Volkov states:
“The idea of legal ‘marketing’ has been diluted in the last few years. As businesses become smarter consumers of legal services, in-house counsel and Chief Compliance Officers are much better at deciphering legal mumbo jumbo. Perhaps the best example of legal marketing as an oxymoron, was the roll-out of the UK Bribery Act. Legal marketing was premised on one idea –fear and fear alone. Client alert after client alert warned companies about the impending doom, the effective date of the UK Bribery Act. Not to pat myself on the back (assuming my arm is long enough), but I wrote that the UK Bribery Act was a real non-event in the world anti-corruption compliance and that it was unlikely to have any real impact. To this day, those words still ring true. After writing the ‘truth’ about the UK Bribery Act, I received a call from the firm’s London partners and was chastised for undermining their entire ‘marketing’ program. (In stark contrast, many clients wrote me and thanked me for my ‘honesty.’”
Nearly three years ago, I wrote:
“The U.K. Bribery Act … has been the subject of much discussion and much over-hype in my opinion. It has been called the FCPA ‘on steroids’ (here) and if one subscribes to the industry marketing material, you might be left with the impression that the end of the world is near. [...] In sum, I don’t see how companies already subject to the FCPA and already thinking about compliance in a pro-active manner, have much to worry about when it comes to the U.K. Bribery Act because of the adequate procedures defense. I will be surprised if U.K. enforcement of the Bribery Act reaches the level of U.S. enforcement of the FCPA …”.
See here for my post the day the U.K. Bribery Act went live in July 2011.
See here for my post “Marketing The FCPA … The FCPA Risks Of … Well, Just About Everything.”
For the Reading Stack
The most recent issue of the always-informative FCPA Update from Debevoise & Plimpton is here. Among other things, the issue summarizes recent remarks of DOJ and SEC officials regarding the FCPA and FCPA enforcement.
A good weekend to all.