Archive for the ‘Foreign Official’ Category

FIFA – A Beautiful Cesspit Of Corruption?

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

FIFAToday’s post is from Professor Bruce Bean (Michigan State University College of Law). Professor Bean, who had a diverse practice career including at various law firms and in-house counsel positions, will be leading a panel discussion about the FIFA bribery scandal at International Law Weekend at Fordham University in New York City on November 7th.  (See here for more information).

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FIFA, the organization controlling the world’s most popular sport, “football,” (“soccer” to those in North America), is formally known as Fédération Internationale de Football Association. FIFA is very big business. 209 national and other football associations from Andorra to Russia and the Faroe Islands to Australia make up FIFA membership. See here.  In the past three decades television and other broadcast rights, plus corporate sponsorships by international brands like Nike, Coca Cola and Visa have vastly increased the resources now involved in global football and, in particular, its quadrennial world championship, the FIFA World Cup. Between 2007 to 2014 FIFA had $10 billion in revenues and, as a Swiss registered NGO, it paid no taxes on its $969 million in profits.

Perhaps the greatest player of all time, Brazil’s legendary Pelé, published My Life and the Beautiful Game in 1977. The phrase the “beautiful game” is still synonymous with football.  In 2014, however, a whistleblower leaked “hundreds of millions” of FIFA documents to journalists at the London Sunday Times. Early in 2015 Heidi Blake and Jonathan Calvert published The Ugly Game: The Corruption of FIFA and the Qatari Plot to Buy the World Cup, describing a decidedly not very beautiful game.

In fact, FIFA has a decades-long, undistinguished, undisturbed history of involvement in scandals, bribery and corruption. In 2009, the Financial Action Task Force, the international anti-money laundering organization, released a report describing FIFA’s role in money-laundering, game-fixing, illegal gambling, and more. See here. Despite the great popularity of football in Europe and the rest of the world, and unending reports of FIFA corruption, no significant action had ever been taken against FIFA and its allegedly corrupt officials by a nation where football reigns supreme.  In the United States, international football is a minor sport, although there is a growing number who participate.  Nevertheless, on May 20, 2015 the United States Department of Justice an indictment in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.  See here.  A Brooklyn Grand Jury returned the Indictment against nine current and former FIFA officials and five businessmen involved with FIFA. The release of the Indictment was coordinated with simultaneous raids and arrests by U.S. and Swiss officials at FIFA facilities in Miami and FIFA headquarters in Zurich. In addition to 14 defendants specifically charged, the Indictment refers to 25 unnamed co-conspirators.

The Indictment details $150 million in bribes paid on behalf of privately-held sports marketing companies to secure broadcast and marketing rights from FIFA for its various regional competitions and for the FIFA World Cup.  The charges filed include racketeering, conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering, obstruction of justice, tax evasion, and, in one case, the unlawful procurement of naturalization.

Shortly after the US Department of Justice intruded into the world’s most popular sport by announcing the Indictment, Russia’s President Putin declared “This is another blatant attempt to extend [U.S.] jurisdiction to other states.” See here.  Offering a decidedly differing view, the Economist commented on the fact that it was the United States, where football is not that popular, that had finally taken steps regarding FIFA.  “America has a long history of being tougher on white collar crime and corruption than other countries….   Most of Europe is happy [with the U.S. bringing this action], believing that FIFA has long been a cesspit of corruption in desperate need of fresh faces and reform.”   See here.

Strangely, notwithstanding the fact that the U.S. has both the FCPA and the best record of prosecuting international bribery, there are no FCPA allegations in the entire 161 pages of the Indictment.  Why does this year’s highest profile bribery and corruption case not include a single allegation of an FCPA violation?  See this prior FCPA Professor post. FCPA charges were not eliminated because the Department of Justice suddenly decided to abandon its (over)broad view of the jurisdictional nexus required to apply U.S. law to foreigners.  See here.

Rather, there are no FCPA allegations because the FIFA officials allegedly involved with the bribes the Indictment describes are not “foreign officials” as described in the FCPA.  The FCPA defines the “term “foreign official” [as] any officer or employee of a foreign government or any department, agency, or instrumentality thereof, or of a public international organization….”  The FCPA further provides that “’public international organization’ means any … international organization that is designated by the President by Executive order for the purposes of this section, effective as of the date of publication of such order in the Federal Register.”   See here.

The current list of public international organizations includes 80 entities, ranging from the United Nations to the International Fertilizer Development Institute and the Pacific Salmon Commission.  Adding FIFA by Executive Order seems logical and straight-forward.  While FIFA is a private organization, it is responsible to no one and exercises extraordinary power over sovereign nations.  For instance, in October 2015 FIFA banned the Kuwaiti national football team from international play because of a dispute over a Kuwaiti law. See here.  In connection with the FIFA World Cup held in Brazil in 2014, FIFA insisted that Brazil exempt all twelve Brazilian World Cup venues from a 2003 national law prohibiting the sale of alcohol at football matches.  As the FIFA General Secretary announced on a trip to Brazil prior to the commencement of World Cup activities,  ”Alcoholic drinks are part of the FIFA World Cup, so we’re going to have them. Excuse me if I sound a bit arrogant but that’s something we won’t negotiate.” See here .

Given the supreme importance of the sport of football in most countries, the long history of scandalous allegations about FIFA and the fact that FIFA is entirely self-governing, responsible to absolutely no one outside itself, there is a strong argument that FIFA should be added to our list of international public organization.

This is not necessarily an easy task, however.

When concerns about corruption possibly related to the Salt Lake City Olympics arose in the late 1990s, three bills were introduced in Congress seeking to bring the International Olympic Committee within the FCPA.  As the FCPA Professor has previously noted, “None of these bills made it out of committee.”  See here.

Given that Congress has been unable to accomplish anything recently, let’s hope the President will act.  He (or perhaps she in the near future) has the authority under 22 USC 288 to designate “public international organizations.”  Adding FIFA to this list will finally bring the ultimate power over international football within the scope of the FCPA.  

Harder Files Motion To Dismiss

Thursday, October 22nd, 2015

HarderAs highlighted in this previous post, in January 2015 the DOJ criminally charged Dmitrij Harder (pictured), the former owner and President of Chestnut Consulting Group Inc. and Chestnut Consulting Group Co., for allegedly bribing an official with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (“EBRD”).

The enforcement action was notable in that it invoked the rarely used “public international organization” prong of the FCPA’s “foreign official” element.

Recently, Harder filed this motion to dismiss:  In summary fashion it states:

“The Indictment fails to accurately allege the elements of a violation under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) – it is devoid of any allegations that Mr. Harder paid an allegedly corrupt payment to a “foreign official,” fails to state required allegations when an allegedly corrupt payment is made to a third party, and impermissibly substitutes “public international organization” in the charging language against Mr. Harder. The FCPA counts should also be dismissed because the provision permitting the President to expand the term “foreign official” by identifying “public international organizations” as authorized by 15 U.S.C. § 78dd-2(h)(2)(B) is unconstitutional. Finally, the Travel Act counts fail to state an offense under the Pennsylvania anti-bribery statute and because the Travel Act does not apply extraterritorially to the facts of this case.”

As relevant to the FCPA’s third-party payment provisions, the motion states:

“Under the FCPA, when an allegedly corrupt payment is made to a person who is not a “foreign official” (like “EBRD Official’s Sister”), it is a crime only if the payment is made by the defendant “while knowing that all or a portion of such money or thing of value will be offered, given, or promised, directly or indirectly, to any foreign official.” 15 U.S.C. § 78dd-2(a)(3). The statutory language of the FCPA does not mention the phrase “for the benefit of.” The Indictment therefore fails in two ways: (1) it purports to expand the statute’s reach and criminalize payments made “for the benefit” of a foreign official; and (2) it fails to set forth any factual allegations that the allegedly corrupt payments were made by Mr. Harder “while knowing that all or a portion of such money or thing of value will be offered, given, or promised, directly or indirectly, to any foreign official.” The Indictment also fails to state an offense because it charges Mr. Harder with inducing a foreign official to use his influence with a public international organization under 15 U.S.C. § 78dd-2(a)(3)(B), but that prong of the FCPA only addresses acts intended to influence a “foreign government” and not a “public international organization.”

As relevant to the FCPA’s “foreign official” element and specifically the “public international organization” component of the “foreign official” definition, the motion states:

“The FCPA counts in the Indictment (Counts One through Six) should be dismissed because the FCPA statute is unconstitutional to the extent criminal liability is premised upon allegedly corrupt payments in connection with “public international organizations.” In this regard, the FCPA states, without any explanation or limitation, that the President of the United States is empowered to designate entities as “public international organizations,” whose employees are then considered to be “foreign officials” covered by the FCPA. But Congress cannot delegate its legislative powers to the President in criminal matters without providing some direction (such as policy, scope, or limitations), and Congress failed to do this in the FCPA. Further, because the FCPA is vague as to what conduct is criminal – because the term “public international organization” is not clearly defined nor are the designated entities so easily identified – this portion of the FCPA is void for vagueness, particularly because an individual can be convicted without proof that the defendant knew that the entity in question was a “public international organization” and therefore covered by the FCPA. Mr. Harder believes this to be the first case where the government has charged anyone under the “public international organization” prong of the FCPA, and the constitutional defects arising from that portion of the statute are readily apparent.

Mr. Harder has not found any case that has reviewed the constitutionality of the definition of “public international organization” for purposes of the FCPA – the key element to the government’s case against Mr. Harder. The term “public international organization” was not in the FCPA when it was originally enacted in 1977. Only when the FCPA was amended as of November 10, 1998, was the term “public international organization” inserted into the FCPA. See PL 105-366 (Nov. 10, 1998). This term, as utilized in the FCPA, violates two important constitutional doctrines: the non-delegation doctrine and the void for vagueness doctrine.

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Congress cannot delegate its legislative powers to the President in criminal matters without providing some direction (such as policy, scope, or limitations), and Congress failed to do this in the FCPA. Further, because the FCPA is vague as to what conduct is criminal – because the term “public international organization” is not clearly defined nor are the designated entities so easily identified – this portion of the FCPA is void for vagueness, particularly because an individual can be convicted without proof that the defendant knew that the entity in question was a “public international organization” and therefore covered by the FCPA. Mr. Harder believes this to be the first case where the government has charged anyone under the “public international organization” prong of the FCPA, and the constitutional defects arising from that portion of the statute are readily apparent.4 Mr. Harder has not found any case that has reviewed the constitutionality of the definition of “public international organization” for purposes of the FCPA – the key element to the government’s case against Mr. Harder. The term “public international organization” was not in the FCPA when it was originally enacted in 1977. Only when the FCPA was amended as of November 10, 1998, was the term “public international organization” inserted into the FCPA. See PL 105-366 (Nov. 10, 1998). This term, as utilized in the FCPA, violates two important constitutional doctrines: the non-delegation doctrine and the void for vagueness doctrine.”

Harder is represented by Ian Comisky (Blank Rome) and Stephen LaCheen (LaCheen, Wittels & Greenberg).

U.S. District Court judge Paul Diamond (E.D. Pa.) is presiding over the case.

Analyzing The DOJ’s Recent “Foreign Official” Enforcement Theory

Tuesday, September 15th, 2015

AnalysisIn the recently announced Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action against Daren Condrey (see here for the prior post), the DOJ advanced an extremely broad “foreign official” interpretation.

In short, the DOJ alleged that a Maryland resident (Vadim Mikerin), working for a Maryland corporation (TENAM Corporation), was a Russian “foreign official.”

How?

According to the DOJ, TENAM was a wholly-owned subsidiary on TENEX – an entity “indirectly owned and controlled by, and performed functions of, the government of the Russian Federation.”

The FCPA Guidance addressed the enforcement agencies’ views on whether an entity indirectly owned by a foreign government can be an instrumentality under the FCPA – such that its employees are “foreign officials” under the FCPA – and states: “as a practical matter, an entity is unlikely to qualify as an instrumentality if a government does not own or control a majority of its shares.”

In Esquenazi, the 11th Circuit articulated a control and function test to determine whether a business organization is an instrumentality under the FCPA. The court stated:

“An ‘instrumentality’ [under the FCPA] is an entity controlled by the government of a foreign country that performs a function the controlling government treats as its own. Certainly, what constitutes control and what constitutes a function the government treats as its own are fact-bound questions. It would be unwise and likely impossible to exhaustively answer them in the abstract. [...] [W]e do not purport to list all of the factors that might prove relevant to deciding whether an entity is an instrumentality of a foreign government. For today, we provide a list of some factors that may be relevant to deciding the issue.

To decide if the government ‘controls’ an entity, courts and juries should look to the foreign government’s formal designation of that entity; whether the government has a majority interest in the entity; the government’s ability to hire and fire the entity’s principals; the extent to which the entity’s profits, if any, go directly into the governmental fisc, and, by the same token, the extent to which the government funds the entity if it fails to break even; and the length of time these indicia have existed.”

In short, the DOJ’s “foreign official” theory in Condrey is seemingly at odds with its own guidance as well as the only legal decision of precedent to address the “foreign official” issue.

And it is not the first post-Guidance, post-Esquenazi FCPA enforcement action to do so.

As highlighted in this prior post, while a minor component of the overall Alstom enforcement action in late 2014 (see here for the prior post), a noteworthy allegation in the enforcement action was that Asem Elgawhart, who was employed by Bechtel Corporation (a U.S. company) and was assigned by Bechtel to be the General Manager of Power Generation Engineering and Services Company (PGESCo), a joint venture between Bechtel and Egyptian Electricity Holding Company (the alleged “state-owned and state-controlled electricity company in Egypt”) was an Egyptian “foreign official.”

In the Alstom enforcement action, PGESCo and Elgawhart are described as follows:

As to Egypt, the information concerns bidding on various projects with the Egyptian Electricity Holding Company (“EEHC”), the state-owned and state-controlled electricity company in Egypt.  According to the information, “EEHC was not itself responsible for conducting the bidding [on projects], and instead relied on Power Generation Engineering & Services Co. (“PGESCo”), which was controlled by an acted on behalf of EEHC.”

PGESCo was controlled by and acted on behalf of EEHC. PGESCo worked “for or on behalf of’ EEHC, within the meaning of the FCPA, Title 15, United States Code, Section 78dd-l (f)( 1) [the FCPA's "foreign official" definition].

According to the DOJ, Alstom used a consultant whose primary purpose “was not to provide legitimate consulting services to Alstom and its subsidiaries but was instead to make payments to Egyptian officials, including Asem Elgawhary who oversaw the bidding process.”

As if the DOJ’s “foreign official” enforcement theory was not already broad enough (and in conflict with Congressional intent in passing the FCPA notwithstanding the flawed Esquenazi decision – see this article at pgs. 24-41 to learn more) the DOJ’s “foreign official” theory in the above enforcement actions was extraordinarily broad and has implications for any person (privately employed) working on projects with participation by a foreign government department, agency or instrumentality.

Do You Now Understand Why The Meaning Of “Foreign Official” Matters?

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015

Understand2For some time, certain people have been confused, perplexed etc. as to why the meaning of “foreign official” in the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions matters.

In connection with the June 2011 Foreign Corrupt Practices Act reform hearing in the House of Representatives, a variety of civil society organizations asked – why is greater clarity needed as “foreign official” – “greater certainty of what? Greater certainty of who [companies] are permitted to bribe and who [companies] are not permitted to bribe.”

In the immediate aftermath of the May 2014 “foreign official” in U.S. v. Esquenazi, a commentator stated:

 “If your are trying to figure out whether a company is a private company or an “instrumentality” of a foreign government under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act you are already in trouble. To reach that point in the FCPA analysis you’ve already paid a bribe, or are thinking of paying a bribe. (If you’re just thinking about it; Don’t do it.) Otherwise you’ll end up in the position of Joel Esquenazi and Carlos Rodriguez.”

Such comments were, and still are, entirely off-base and not the main reason why the meaning of “foreign official” matters. To be sure, the meaning of “foreign official” mattered to Esquenazi and Rodriguez in the narrow context of their case and more broadly for the obvious rule of law reasons implicated in criminal law enforcement.

Stating that the meaning of “foreign official” matters only to those intent on engaging in bribery is like saying the drinking laws matter only to those intent on drunk driving. Sure, the drinking laws can certainly capture those engaged in drunk driving, yet the reality is the underlying activity – drinking – is legal and socially acceptable in most other situations.

The same is true when it comes to the meaning of “foreign official.” The FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions are generally implicated when anything of value is offered or provided to a “foreign official” in connection with a business purpose.

Some will still maintain that the above is all fine and dandy, but a company still shouldn’t “bribe.”

However, as recent enforcement activity has highlighted, FCPA enforcement actions are increasingly based on allegations concerning internships (BNY Mellon), sports tickets (BHP Billiton), travel and entertainment (FLIR Systems and several other enforcement actions) and other inconsequential things of value such as flowers, cigarettes, and visits to karaoke bars (Eli Lilly and several other enforcement actions).

In other words, the underlying activity is legal and socially acceptable in most situations. In fact, it is often called effective sales and marketing, wining and dining the customer, or maintaining good will. Yet when such activity is focused, directly or indirectly, on a “foreign official” the U.S. government is inclined to call it bribery.

In short, the meaning of “foreign official” determines whether a criminal law applies to an interaction in the global marketplace. The Esquenazi decision expanded regulation of business interactions with a “well-defined group of persons” (as correctly noted by the 5th Circuit in U.S. v. Castle) to an ill-defined, practically boundless category of persons.

The proper scope and meaning of the “foreign official” is an issue of extraordinary practical significance to businesses and individuals subject to the FCPA. Not because business organizations want to bribe, but because business organizations competing in good faith in the global marketplace want to engage in conduct that is legal and socially acceptable in most other situations.

Do you now understand why the meaning of “foreign official” matters?

The Coming Battle Over The Status Of Ecopetrol

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

EcopetrolAs recently highlighted here by the Wall Street Journal, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act criminal trial of former PetroTiger CEO Joseph Sigelman, originally scheduled to begin this week, was “pushed back for two months to allow him assistance from an unlikely ally: the former Colombian official he is accused of bribing.”  As noted in the article, “Mr. Sigelman is accused of paying David Duran, a former official at Colombia’s Ecopetrol SA to win business for his oil services company, PetroTiger.”

This November 2014 post highlighted how Sigelman is challenging various aspects of the DOJ’s case, including its interpretation and application of the “foreign official” element to Ecopetrol. Similar to previous “foreign official” challenges, the DOJ argued that the dispute is an issue of fact inappropriate for pre-trial disposition.  Accordingly, as in the previous “foreign official” challenges, the “foreign official” issue is moving to other phases of the case.

Recently the DOJ and Sigelman filed motions foreshadowing the evidence the parties intend to offer to prove or disprove whether Ecopetrol is an “instrumentality” of the Colombian government and thus whether Duran is a “foreign official” under the FCPA.

Although not binding in the Sigelman case pending in federal court in New Jersey, approximately one year ago in U.S. v. Esquenazi, the 11th Circuit concluded, in a case of first impression at the appellate level, that “an ‘instrumentality’ [under the FCPA] is an entity controlled by the government of a foreign country that performs a function the controlling government treats as its own.” (emphasis added).

In this letter the DOJ provides notice that it may call (1) Alejandro Linares Cantillo and (2) Carlos Mantilla McCormick to provide expert testimony.  In pertinent part, the letter states:

Alejandro Linares Cantillo

Mr. Linares is the Vice President for Legal Affairs and General Counsel of Ecopetrol S.A., and he has been in this position since October 2014. Mr. Linares’s testimony is based on his training, education, and experience as described in his curriculum vitae, including his experience at Ecopetrol S.A. (“Ecopetrol”), as well as his review of relevant material including, but not limited to, Ecopetrol’s Forms 20-F filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Colombian laws and regulations, scholarly articles and books, and Ecopetrol company materials. If called as a witness, Mr. Linares would generally testify about the history, business, and structure of Ecopetrol over time. Mr. Linares would also testify about the Colombian government’s control of Ecopetrol and the company’s functions as a government-controlled entity, particularly as it relates to the Mansarovar contract at issue in this case. More specifically, if called as a witness, we anticipate Mr. Linares would testify to the following:

In Colombia, the state owns all hydrocarbon reserves. To ensure proper management and supply of hydrocarbon resources to the nation, the Colombian government has adopted laws, regulations, and policies to ensure an appropriate supply of energy to the nation while responsibly maintaining the nation’s hydrocarbon resources. It effectuates these goals through various agencies and state-controlled entities, including Ecopetrol.

Ecopetrol was originally incorporated by the Colombian government on August 25, 1951, as the Empresa Colombiana de Petróleos S.A. It functioned as a governmental industrial and commercial company responsible for administering Colombia’s hydrocarbon resources.

The company’s legal form has evolved since its inception. For example, in 1970, the company adopted its first by-laws, ratifying its nature as a stateowned industrial and commercial company linked to the Ministry of Mines and Energy and fiscally supervised by the Office of the General Controllership.

In 2003 the government restructured Empresa Colombiana de Petróleos into a 100% state-owned corporation by shares linked to the Ministry of Mines and Energy and renamed the company Ecopetrol S.A. (hereinafter referred to as “Ecopetrol” regardless of time period).

In 2006 the legal nature of Ecopetrol was changed to one of a mixed economy corporation, linked with the Ministry of Mines and Energy and funded by Colombian government and private capital.

The Republic of Colombia is required by law to own at least 80% of the outstanding voting shares of Ecopetrol. In 2009 and 2010 the government owned roughly 90% of the outstanding voting shares, and it currently owns roughly 88.5% of Ecopetrol’s outstanding voting shares. Ecopetrol has had American Depository Shares trading on the New York Stock Exchange since 2008.

In 2003 the Colombia government created the National Hydrocarbons Agency (NHA), and the government granted the NHA authority over, among other things, the design, promotion, negotiation, conclusion, tracking, and management of new exploration and exploitation of Colombian hydrocarbon resources. The Ministry of Mines and Energy continues to administer the overall oil policy and planning coordination, and together with the Oil and Gas Regulation Commission it also regulates the downstream sector.

Prior to December 31, 2003, Ecopetrol exercised administrative, industrial, and commercial powers over Colombian hydrocarbon resources owned by the Republic of Colombia.

After December 31, 2003, as a mixed economy company, Ecopetrol retained authority to engage in industrial and commercial activities, under the indirect control of the Colombian government, with respect to, among other things, the exploration, exploitation, transportation, and supply and marketing of Colombian hydrocarbon resources, as well as related concessions, assets, and real estate. It does so as an association contracts administrator in the commercial sphere on behalf of the Colombian government.

Ecopetrol has also retained certain administrative functions with regard to association contracts it entered into prior to December 31, 2003, including the Mansarovar contract at issue in this case. Administrative functions retained by Ecopetrol after December 31, 2003, with respect to association contracts include, but are not limited to, the following:  management, development, and negotiation of exploration and exploitation rights in connection with hydrocarbon resources; overseeing the advancement of programs that benefit the communities in the areas of influence of the contracts; managing the Colombian government’s share of moneys and in-kind resources obtained from the exploitation of hydrocarbon resources; and managing and disposing of the assets and real estate associated with exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbon resources at the end of the Association contracts.

Ecopetrol may extend association contracts, at its sole discretion, which is an administrative function. If Ecopetrol refuses to extend an association contract, the right to exploit the hydrocarbon reserves that are the subject of the contract would revert to Ecopetrol, and Ecopetrol would have the right to exploit those reserves for an indefinite period at no additional cost to it.

Ecopetrol is the largest company in Colombia as measured by revenue, assets, and shareholder’s equity. It is also the main producer and supplier of fuel and refined products in Colombia. In recent years it has contributed approximately 15% of the Colombian government’s annual revenues through royalties, taxes and dividends, and it remains the single largest source of revenue for the government. Oil production and exports account for a significant part of Colombia’s economy. Ecopetrol accounts for a significant percentage of Colombia’s oil production, exports of crude oil, imports of refined oil products, and refining capacity.

Ecopetrol owns outright 42% of the total crude oil pipeline shipping capacity in Colombia, and in conjunction with partners 99% of the total product pipeline shipping capacity in Colombia. The Colombian government controls and regulates the pipelines through the Ministry of Mines and Energy by establishing hydrocarbon transportation tariffs and transportation regulations.

Ecopetrol is the only producer of asphalt in the country and accounts for nearly all domestic consumption.

Ecopetrol owns and manages nearly all oil refining capacity in Colombia. Because domestic demand outstrips domestic refining capacity, Ecopetrol also imports refined oil products, including gasoline. The Colombian government, by means of The Oil Prices Stabilization Fund, may control the price of gasoline and other fuels by setting prices for them domestically through the Ministry of Mines and Energy below prices in the international market. The government makes payments to refiners and importers, principally Ecopetrol, to account for any fuel price differential, in favor of Ecopetrol, caused by these domestic fuel price subsidies. The government controls the timing of such payouts to Ecopetrol and other refiners and importers.

While the Colombian government enjoys the advantages of a natural monopoly over many aspects of the management, development, and supply of hydrocarbon resources in Colombia through its control of Ecopetrol, it also restricts Ecopetrol’s market share in other areas. For example, the government prohibits Ecopetrol from owning more than 25% of any natural gas transportation company.

The Colombian government’s budget is set in part based on expected revenues from Ecopetrol. As a result of falling world prices of crude oil, it is anticipated that Ecopetrol’s revenues and profits will decline in 2015, and the Colombian government has had to cut its budget for 2015.

In addition to exerting control over Ecopetrol through law, regulation, and policy, Colombia controls Ecopetrol through its majority shareholding position, through which it directly appoints a majority of the board of directors and indirectly the chief executive officer. The board consists of nine members. As the majority shareholder, the Colombian government has the right to elect the majority of the directors. Ecopetrol’s by-laws establish that three of its directors will be the Minister of Mines and Energy, the Minister of Finance, and the Director of the National Planning Agency. The board also has the authority to hire and fire the chief executive officer of the company.

As the majority shareholder in Ecopetrol, the Colombian government may propose and approve decisions that are in furtherance of its own economic and political interests that do not necessarily benefit minority shareholders and may not be in the interest of Ecopetrol. It may also approve dividends at the ordinary general shareholders’ meeting, notwithstanding the interest of minority shareholders, in an amount that results in Ecopetrol having to reduce its capital expenditures, thereby negatively affecting Ecopetrol’s prospects, results of operations and financial condition.

In order for Ecopetrol to issue debt in international or Colombian markets with a tenor greater than one year, or incur any other form of indebtedness, the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit must first authorize the issuance of such debt and register any external debt with the Colombian Central Bank. The Colombian government has the authority to refuse to approve such issuances. These restrictions do not apply to private companies.

Ecopetrol reserves the right to plead sovereign immunity under the U.S. Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 with respect to actions brought against it under U.S. or state securities laws.

The Office of the Controller General (“OCG”) is a government institution that acts as the highest form of fiscal control in Colombia. It is charged with ensuring the proper management of public resources and funds. The OCG has oversight responsibility for various public entities in Colombia, including Ecopetrol. As a state-controlled entity, Ecopetrol is subject to review by the OCG and has reporting requirements to it regarding the management of public funds or resources. OCG may bring actions against Ecopetrol’s employees for mismanagement of public funds or resources.

The Office of the Inspector General of Colombia (“OIG”) is an independent public institution with authority over public conduct of those in authority or exercising a public function. The OIG is charged with overseeing public officials’ performance, intervening in defense of the legal order, public funds, and fundamental rights, and instituting disciplinary actions against public officials. Ecopetrol employees are subject to the purview of the OIG.

The National Accounting Office of the Colombian government adopted accounting principles for state-owned entities in 2007 known as the Regime of Public Accounting (“RCP”). RCP differs in some regards from the accounting principles required for private enterprises. Ecopetrol has been required to prepare its financial statements in accordance with RCP since 2008. In its Form 20-F, Ecopetrol refers to this accounting regime as Colombian Government Entity GAAP.

Ecopetrol is subject to the jurisdiction of Colombia’s administrative court system. Disputes between Ecopetrol and private companies must be addressed within the administrative court system, whereas disputes between private parties are handled within Colombia’s ordinary court system.

Ecopetrol’s employees are subject to prosecution under Colombia’s laws against public corruption.

Ecopetrol is subject to Colombia’s Transparency Law, which applies to entities that exercise a public function. This law is similar to the Freedom of Information Act in the U.S.

As a government-controlled entity, Ecopetrol is required to unilaterally terminate contracts with contractors who finance terrorist activities. Private companies are not subject to this requirement.

Ecopetrol is controlled by the Colombian government. Ecopetrol functions as an instrumentality of the state, including as an industrial and commercial operator with respect to exploring, exploiting, transporting, and supplying hydrocarbon resources for the Colombian state. Ecopetrol also functions as an instrumentality of the state through its administrative functions in connection with association contracts entered into prior to December 31, 2003, including the Mansarovar contract at issue in this case. Ecopetrol also manages public resources.

Carlos Mantilla McCormick

Mr. Mantilla is the Vice President of Hydrocarbon Contracts of the NHA, and he has been in this position since 2014. Mr. Mantilla’s testimony is based on his training, education, and experience as described in his curriculum vitae, including his experience at NHA, as well as his review of relevant material including, but not limited to, Colombian laws and regulations and NHA materials. If called as a witness, Mr. Mantilla would generally testify about the history and structure of the NHA since its inception in 2003 to present, as well as the history and background of Ecopetrol as further described above in the description of Mr. Linares’s anticipated testimony. Mr. Mantilla would also testify about the Colombian government’s control of Ecopetrol and the functions that Ecopetrol and the NHA have performed and continue to perform, as described in greater detail above. More specifically, if called as a witness, we anticipate Mr. Mantilla would testify to the following:

In 2003, Colombia created the NHA and granted the NHA authority over, among other things, the design, promotion, negotiation, conclusion, tracking, and management of new exploration and exploitation of Colombian hydrocarbon resources.

After December 31, 2003, Ecopetrol continued to administer substantial hydrocarbon resources covered by association contracts with third parties, and it remained the government’s principal instrument of engaging in commercial and industrial activity in the hydrocarbon market. The NHA took over certain administrative and regulatory functions from Ecopetrol in the upstream sector, except as to those resources covered by Ecopetrol’s association contracts entered into prior to December 31, 2003. Ecopetrol has retained certain administrative functions with regard to association contracts it entered into prior to December 31, 2003, including the Mansarovar contract at issue in this case.

As a state-controlled entity, Ecopetrol is charged with exploring, extracting, processing, transporting, and marketing Colombia’s hydrocarbon resources. It is also charged with the administration of hydrocarbon resources related to association contracts entered into prior to December 31, 2003, as well as exploiting those resources and others administered by other agencies as an operator in the commercial sphere as an instrumentality of the Colombian government.

Ecopetrol is still a counterparty to the contracts that it signed before January 1, 2004, including the Mansarovar contract at issue in this case. Those contracts have clauses providing, at Ecopetrol’s sole option, for extensions. If Ecopetrol were to refuse to extend one of those contracts, the right to exploit the hydrocarbon reserves that are the subject of the contract would revert to Ecopetrol, and Ecopetrol would have the right to exploit those reserves for an indefinite period at no additional cost to it.

After NHA was created, Ecopetrol continued to perform administrative functions with regard to association contracts and performed many of the same governmental functions with respect to those contracts after NHA was created that it had performed before NHA was created.

NHA sets oil prices for exploration and production contracts that it controls, but has no role in setting prices for association contracts controlled by Ecopetrol. With regard to exploration and production contracts, NHA establishes plans related to drilling, budget, extraction, general rules, and contracting. In association contracts maintained by Ecopetrol, Ecopetrol carries out those functions, and NHA has no role in those decisions.

NHA plays no part in approving contracts with service providers with respect to association contracts, and it has no role in ensuring that private companies that sign association contracts with Ecopetrol adhere to their agreements. Ecopetrol had that responsibility before NHA was created and has retained that responsibility. NHA has certain authority over all oil fields, and thus has limited functions with respect to association contracts, including: NHA conducts technical inspections of all oil fields in Colombia. Once an association contract ends, Ecopetrol may continue to maintain the oil fields that the contract covered. To do so, Ecopetrol must submit a petition for NHA’s approval to continue to administer the oil fields covered by the contract. Ecopetrol is the only company that may submit such a petition. Royalties that are paid for oil extraction are set by NHA.

NHA has significant authority over exploration and production contracts signed after December 31, 2003.

In this letter, Sigelman’s defense counsel provides notice of the expert testimony it intends to offer.  In pertinent part, the letter states:

Justice Carlos G. Arrieta

We anticipate that Justice Arrieta will offer testimony regarding Ecopetrol, including the functions it performed between 2009 and 2010 and its relationship with the Republic of Colombia (“Colombia”) during that period. This testimony is expected to include Ecopetrol’s history, the laws and regulations bearing on its functions and its relationship with Colombia, Ecopetrol’s internal governance and operations, and the role of Ecopetrol’s employees. Justice Arrieta has already provided one declaration in this matter, [...]  and we expect that his testimony at trial will be consistent with and supplemental to that declaration.

Justice Arrieta is qualified to offer this testimony on the basis of his education, professional training, academic research, and experience in administrative law. His extensive judicial experience includes terms as Justice on Colombia’s State Council (Colombia’s highest court for administrative law disputes) and as adjunct Justice on Colombia’s Constitutional Court (Colombia’s highest court for constitutional law matters). In addition, he served for four years as Colombia’s Attorney Inspector General. Justice Arrieta’s private practice experience includes litigation and client advisory services related to administrative law issues prevalent in the oil and gas industry. He also acts as an arbitrator in disputes arising from public and commercial contracts. Additionally, Justice Arrieta was a professor of law at the Los Andes School of Law in Bogota, Colombia, for many years and served as the school’s Dean from 1986-89.

Professor David R. Mares

We anticipate that Professor Mares will offer testimony regarding the characteristics and relative autonomy of various nationally-owned and private oil and gas companies, including Ecopetrol. Professor Mares is also expected to provide testimony regarding the political, social, and economic factors influencing the creation and/or privatization of national oil companies. Professor Mares is qualified to offer this testimony on the basis of his extensive academic research of Latin American energy issues. In addition to his current teaching position at the University of California, San Diego, Professor Mares is the Baker Institute Scholar for Latin American Energy Studies at Rice University. Professor Mares has also held teaching posts at El Colegio de Mexico; the Universidad de Chile; FLACSO Ecuador; Harvard University; Stanford University; and a fellowship at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies. In the course of his scholarship, Professor Mares has written or edited nine books, as well as hundred journal articles, book chapters, and reports. Professor Mares’s teaching includes classes on energy politics.

Justice Jorge A. Gomez

We anticipate that Justice Gomez will offer testimony regarding Colombia’s criminal laws and procedure, including the effects of certain criminal penalties. Justice Gomez is expected to provide testimony as to the penalty of debarment from performing public functions as well as to the effect of such penalty on crimes against the public administration of Colombia, such as bribery. Justice Gomez is qualified to offer this testimony on the basis of his education, professional training, academic research, and experience. His professional background includes extensive judicial experience, including terms on the Criminal Section of Colombia’s Supreme Court of Justice (Colombia’s highest court for criminal matters) as well as appellate and trial courts with jurisdiction over criminal matters. In addition, Justice Gomez’s private practice experience focuses on criminal law matters. He has taught Colombian criminal law at several universities and published academic articles in Colombian legal journals.

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Sigelman’s trial in U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey – Camden, is scheduled to begin on June 1st.