Archive for the ‘SEC Enforcement Action’ Category

Next Up – Bristol-Myers

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

BMSFirst it was Johnson & Johnson (see here – $70 million enforcement action in April 2011).

Then it was Smith & Nephew (see here - $22 million enforcement action in February 2012).

Then it was Biomet (see here – $22.8 million enforcement action in March 2012).

Then it was Pfizer / Wyeth (see here  – $60 million enforcement action in August 2012).

Then it was Eli Lilly (see here – $29 million enforcement action in December 2012).

Then it was Stryker (see here – $13.2 million enforcement action in October 2013).

Then it was Mead Johnson (see here – $12 million enforcement action in July 2015).

The latest of the most recent Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement actions (there are many more than those listed above) premised on the theory that physicians of certain foreign health care systems are “foreign officials” under the FCPA is Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (“BMS”).

Some will say this enforcement action – like certain of the others mentioned above – merely involved the FCPA’s books and records and internal controls provisions, but make no mistake about it, this action – as well as the prior actions – was all about the alleged “foreign officials.”

Yesterday, the SEC announced this administrative cease and desist order in which BMS agreed, without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings, to pay approximately $14.7 million.

The order states in summary fashion as follows.

“These proceedings arise out of violations of the internal controls and recordkeeping provisions of the FCPA by BMS and its majority-owned joint venture in China. Between 2009 and 2014, BMS failed to design and maintain effective internal controls relating to interactions with health care providers (“HCPs”) at state-owned and state-controlled hospitals in China. Through various mechanisms during this period, certain sales representatives of the joint venture improperly generated funds that were used to provide corrupt inducements to HCPs in the form of cash payments, gifts, meals, travel, entertainment, and sponsorships for conferences and meetings in order to secure new sales and increase existing sales. BMS falsely recorded the relevant transactions as legitimate business expenses in its books and records.”

The findings focus on Bristol-Myers Squibb (China) Investment Co. Limited (“BMS China), a company through which BMS conducts business in China, and how BMS China, in turn, primarily operates in China through Sino-American Shanghai Squibb Pharmaceuticals Limited (“SASS”), a majority-owned joint venture.

According to the Order:

“BMS holds a 60% equity interest in SASS and has held operational control over this entity since 2009 when it obtained the right to name the President of SASS and a majority of the members of SASS’s Board of Directors.

BMS began operating in China in 1982 when it formed SASS, the first SinoAmerican pharmaceutical joint venture. Following a successful product launch in 2005, BMS China’s business grew quickly. By 2009, BMS China had 1490 full-time employees and net sales of more than $200 million. This upward trend continued through 2014 when the number of full-time employees expanded to 2464 and net sales reached nearly $500 million.

Certain BMS China employees achieved their sales, in part, by providing HCPs and other government officials with cash and other inducements in exchange for prescriptions and drug listings.”

Under the heading “Failure to Respond to Red Flags,” the Order states:

“BMS China failed to respond effectively to red flags indicating that sales personnel provided improper payments and other benefits in order to generate sales from HCPs. In 2009, BMS China initiated a review of travel and entertainment expenses submitted for reimbursement by its sales personnel and found non-compliant claims, fake and altered invoices and receipts, and consecutively numbered receipts. Shortly thereafter, BMS China retained a local accounting firm to conduct monthly post-payment reviews of all claims for travel, entertainment, and meeting expenses to identify false, improperly documented, and unsubstantiated claims. BMS China brought this function in-house in early 2011 and the results of both the external and internal reviews were provided to management of BMS China as well as regional compliance and corporate business managers who reported directly to senior management of BMS.

During the period between mid-2009 and late 2013, BMS China identified numerous irregularities in travel and entertainment and event documentation, including fake and altered purchase orders, invoices, agendas, and attendance sheets for meetings with HCPs that likely had not occurred. BMS China inaccurately recorded the reimbursement of these false claims as legitimate business expenses in its books and records, which were then consolidated into the books and records of BMS.

Certain BMS China employees admitted that they had submitted false reimbursement claims and used the funds for the benefit of HCPs in support of sales by BMS China. They also alleged that the use of false reimbursement claims to fund payments to and for the benefit of HCPs in order to secure prescription sales was a widespread practice at BMS China. In emails to the BMS China President in November 2010 and January 2011, certain terminated employees wrote that they used the funds to pay rebates, provide entertainment, and fund gift cards for HCPs, as there was no other way to meet their sales targets. Citing the “open secret” that HCPs in China rely upon the “gray income” to maintain their livelihood, they said that they tried to meet the demands of the HCPs for the benefit of BMS China. Despite the widespread exceptions and serious allegations of potentially widespread bribery practices, BMS China did not investigate these claims.”

Under the heading “Compliance and Controls Environment,” the Order states:

“Despite its longstanding presence in China, BMS did not implement a formal FCPA compliance program until April 2006 when it adopted its first standalone anti-bribery policy and corresponding corporative directive. At approximately the same time, BMS began conducting compliance assessments and audits of BMS China that included a review of internal controls relating to anti-bribery risks. These internal reviews revealed weaknesses in the monitoring of payments made to HCPs, the lack of formal processes around the selection and compensation of HCPs as speakers, deficiencies in obtaining and documenting the approval of donations, sponsorships, and consulting arrangements with HCPs, and the failure to conduct post-event verification of meetings and conferences sponsored by sales representatives. Reports of these findings were provided to senior management of BMS China as well as members of BMS’s global compliance department.

These identified controls deficiencies were not timely remediated and compliance resources were minimal. The corporate compliance officer responsible for the Asia-Pacific region through 2012 was based in the U.S. and rarely traveled to China. There was no dedicated compliance officer for BMS China until 2008, and no permanent compliance position in China until 2010. In addition, the BMS sales force in China received limited training and much of it was inaccessible to a large number of sales representatives who worked in remote locations. For example, when BMS rolled out mandatory anti-bribery training in late 2009, 67% of employees in China failed to complete the training by the due date.

Annual internal audits of BMS China repeatedly identified substantial gaps in internal controls, and the results were reported to the Audit Committee and senior management of BMS. In connection with each audit, the audit team cited a lack of effective controls and documentation relating to interactions with HCPs and the monitoring of potential inappropriate payments to HCPs. Among Internal Audit’s conclusions were that BMS China’s controls around the review and approval of travel and entertainment expenses and gifts to HCPs were not effective and that it failed to track payments to HCPs, including high-risk payments, in its quarterly review of potential inappropriate payments, and to enforce controls relating to the documentation, approval, and payment of distributor rebates. Internal Audit also cited the lack of due diligence assessments of distributor compliance, including anti-bribery compliance, the failure to properly document and approve agreements with HCPs who served as speakers, and the lack of a mechanism to ensure that services were received in exchange for sponsorships. As a result, Internal Audit issued a series of qualified opinions in connection with its annual audits of BMS China between 2009 and 2013.”

Under the heading “Internal Documents Reveal Improper Benefits Provided to HCPs,” the Order states:

“Emails and other BMS China documents detail, among other things, proposed “activity plans,” “action plans,” and plans for “investments” in HCPs to increase prescription sales. These contemporaneous documents were prepared at the direction of, and sometimes transmitted to, district and regional sales managers of BMS China, and show that sales representatives used funds derived from travel and expense claims to make cash payments to HCPs and to provide gifts, meals, entertainment, and travel to HCPs in order to induce them to prescribe products sold and marketed by BMS China. The sales representatives provided a variety of benefits to HCPs, ranging from small food and personal care items to shopping cards, jewelry, sightseeing, and cash payments, in exchange for prescription sales. This kind of conduct was captured in a July 2013 email from a sales representative to a regional manager. The sales representative explained that a former sales representative had offered cash for sales to HCPs at a local hospital and “the attitude of the director of the infectious diseases department was extremely clear when I took over: ‘No money, no prescription.’” Similarly, the work plans prepared by other sales representatives also identified correlations between the value of the benefits provided to specific HCPs and the volume of prescription sales expected.

Certain documents within BMS China were replete with references to “investments” made in order to obtain sales, such as offering speaking engagements and sponsorships for domestic and international conferences and meetings in exchange for prescriptions. Some sales representatives also sought to increase prescription sales and maintain drug listings at pharmacies by hosting cash promotions and events for pharmacy employees. Based on the volume of prescriptions, certain BMS China sales representatives gave cash, shopping cards, and foodstuffs as promotional prizes to pharmacy employees; at least one sales representative characterized the expenses as a “departmental development fee” in contemporaneous documents.”

Based on the above, the Order finds:

“As described herein, BMS, through the actions of certain BMS China employees, violated [the FCPA's books and records provisions] by falsely recording, as advertising and promotional expenses, cash payments and expenses for gifts, meals, travel, entertainment, speaker fees, and sponsorships for conferences and meetings provided to foreign officials, such as HCPs at state-owned and state-controlled hospitals as well as employees of state-owned pharmacies in China, to secure prescription sales. BMS also violated [the FCPA's internal controls provisions] by failing to devise and maintain a system of internal accounting controls relating to payments and benefits provided by sales representatives at BMS China to these foreign officials. As identified in various internal reviews, audits, and investigations conducted since at least 2009, BMS lacked effective internal controls sufficient to provide reasonable assurances that funds advanced and reimbursed to employees of BMS China were used for appropriate and authorized purposes.”

Under the heading “Remedial Efforts,” the Order states:

“BMS has implemented significant measures to enhance its anti-bribery and general compliance training and policies and to strengthen its accounting and monitoring controls relating to interactions with HCPs, including travel and entertainment expenses, meetings, sponsorships, grants, and donations funded by BMS China. BMS took numerous steps to improve the internal controls and compliance program at BMS China. Examples include a 100% pre-reimbursement review of all expense claims; the implementation of an accounting system designed to track each expense claim, including the request, approval, and payment of each claim; and the retention of a third-party vendor to conduct surprise checks at events sponsored by sales representatives. Additionally, BMS terminated over ninety employees, and disciplined an additional ninety employees, including sales representatives and managers of BMS China, who failed to comply with or sufficiently supervise compliance with relevant policies. In addition, BMS replaced certain BMS China officers as part of an overall effort to enhance “tone at the top” and a culture of compliance. Further, BMS revised the compensation structure for BMS China employees by reducing the portion of incentive-based compensation for sales and distribution, eliminated gifts to HCPs, implemented enhanced due diligence procedures for third-party agents, implemented monitoring systems for speaker fees and third-party events, and incorporated risk assessments based on data analytics into its compliance program.”

As stated in the Order:

“Without admitting or denying the findings, Bristol-Myers Squibb consented to the order and agreed to return $11.4 million of profits plus prejudgment interest of $500,000 and pay a civil penalty of $2.75 million.  Bristol-Myers Squibb also agreed to report to the SEC for a two-year period on the status of its remediation and implementation of FCPA and anti-corruption compliance measures.”

In the SEC’s release Kara Krockmeyer (Chief of the SEC’s FCPA Unit stated):

“Bristol-Myers Squibb’s failure to institute an effective internal controls system and to respond promptly to indications of significant compliance gaps at its Chinese joint venture enabled a widespread practice of providing corrupt inducements in exchange for prescription sales to continue for years.”

Yesterday Bristol-Myers’s stock closed down .47%.

According to reports, Bristol-Myers was represented by F. Joseph Warin of Gibson Dunn.

Hyperdynamics Resolves FCPA Enforcement Action For $75,000, But Spends $12.7 Million To Get There

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

SurpriseNot that Foreign Corrupt Practices Act are conveniently timed or anything like that, but the SEC’s fiscal year ends on September 30th and for the second consecutive day, the SEC announced an FCPA enforcement action (in the past two days the SEC has announced 22 other enforcement actions).

Two days ago, it was Hitachi (see here for the prior post).

Yesterday, it was Hyperdynamics Corp  - an oil and gas company with shares quoted by the OTCQX, an over-the-counter marketplace operated by OTC Market Group, Inc.

If there was ever an inconsequential FCPA enforcement this would be it. In fact, the SEC’s normally chatty press office didn’t even issue a release. However, as relevant to the title of this post, tell Hyperdynamics shareholders that this episode was inconsequential and they are likely to have a different opinion.

In this slim administrative action (the specific factual allegations are a mere four paragraphs) the SEC states:

“Hyperdynamics was founded in 1996 as a commercial computer and communications service provider. In 2001, the company transitioned to the oil and gas industry, and one year later, Hyperdynamics purchased contract rights from a small oil company which owned the exclusive drilling rights offshore the Republic of Guinea. Company executives began travelling to Guinea in 2005, and eventually opened a wholly-owned subsidiary in Conakry to facilitate ongoing operations.

From July 2007 through October 2008, Hyperdynamics, through its subsidiary, paid $130,000 for public relations and lobbying services in the Republic of Guinea to two supposedly unrelated entities – $55,000 to BerMia Service SRL, and $75,000 to Africa Business Service (“ABS”). The subsidiary’s books and records were consolidated with Hyperdynamics’s books and records, and these payments were recorded as public relations and lobbying expenses, even though the company lacked sufficient supporting documentation to determine whether the services were actually provided and to identify the ultimate recipient of the funds.

In late 2008, Hyperdynamics discovered that a Guinean-based employee controlled BerMia and ABS. Hyperdynamics also learned that this employee was the sole signatory on the ABS account. But Hyperdynamics could not determine how, if at all, BerMia or ABS spent the funds they had received, or whether any services actually were provided. Moreover, the company could not recover the funds. There is no evidence that these funds were in fact spent on legitimate public relations and lobbying activities, yet Hyperdynamics’s books and records continued to reflect that the funds were spent for these purposes.

Hyperdynamics lacked adequate internal accounting controls over its disbursement of funds through its Guinean subsidiary, as well as its recording of such disbursements. In addition, the company did not have a due diligence and monitoring process in place for vetting third-party vendors; accordingly, it failed to conduct due diligence on BerMia and ABS. As a result, Hyperdynamics did not timely discover that the payments were made to companies controlled by its employee, nor could it ascertain the true purpose for which these funds were spent. The inadequate controls also led Hyperdynamics to record these disbursements as public relations and lobbying expenses without any supporting documentation that such services were provided.”

Based on the above, the SEC found that Hyperdynamics violated the FCPA’s books and records and internal controls provisions.

Under the heading “Remedial Efforts and Cooperation,” the order states:

“Beginning in July 2009, Hyperdynamics replaced its senior management team and its entire Board of Directors. The company also hired its first in-house lawyer, who implemented a number of training programs and revised company policies related to its Guinean operations. Hyperdynamics also increased the number of its accounting personnel, and instituted a series of procedures to more strictly control and identify transfers of funds to Guinea, including the transfer of signature authority over Guinean accounts to Houston-based employees, as well as requiring corporate pre-approval for all Guinean expenditures.

In determining to accept the Offer, the Commission considered remedial acts undertaken by Respondent and cooperation afforded the Commission staff.”

Without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings, Hyperdynamics agreed to pay a $75,000 penalty.

In this disclosure, the company states:

“As previously disclosed, the SEC had issued a subpoena to Hyperdynamics concerning possible violations of the FCPA.  This settlement fully resolves the SEC’s investigation.  As previously disclosed in May 2015, the DOJ closed its investigation into possible FCPA violations by Hyperdynamics without bringing any charges against the Company.

The allegations in the Order relate to certain issues concerning the company’s books and records and internal controls in 2007-2008. Hyperdynamics consented to the SEC Order without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings and agreed to pay a $75,000 penalty to the SEC.

In reaching this resolution, the Commission considered remedial acts undertaken by the company and cooperation afforded the Commission staff.  The SEC Order recognizes that, beginning in July 2009, Hyperdynamics replaced its senior management team and its entire Board of Directors, revised its policies, implemented training programs, increased its legal and accounting personnel, and instituted a series of procedures to more strictly control transfers of funds.”

According to the company’s most recent annual report:

“We incurred approximately $7.5 million in legal and other professional fees associated with the FCPA investigations in the year ended June 30, 2014, and another $5.2 million in the year ended June 30, 2015, for a total of $12.7 million.”

Calculating the ratio between pre-enforcement action professional fees and expenses and settlement amounts, this represents a whopping 170 to 1 ratio. (To learn more about such ratios see “FCPA Ripples“).

If I were a Hyperdynamics shareholder, I would be asking some serious questions.

Nancy Kestenbaum, Lanny Breuer and Barbara Hoffman of Covington & Burling reportedly represented Hyperdynamics.

Hitachi Inspires The Next FCPA Enforcement Action Against A Foreign Company

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

HitachiWhat happens when a Japanese company has a German-based subsidiary, which in turn has a South African subsidiary, that both allegedly make improper payments to a South African political party?

Why of course, $19 million to the U.S. treasury because the Japanese company just happened to have American Depositary Shares traded in the U.S.

In the latest Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action against a foreign company, yesterday the SEC announced an enforcement action against Tokyo-based Hitachi, Ltd.  for violating the FCPA “when it inaccurately recorded improper payments to South Africa’s ruling political party in connection with contracts to build two multi-billion dollar power plants.”

As alleged in this settled SEC civil complaint:

“In 2005, Hitachi created a subsidiary in South Africa for the purpose of establishing a local presence in that country to pursue lucrative public and private contracts, including government contracts to build two new major power stations.

Hitachi sold 25% of the stock in the newly created subsidiary to Chancellor House Holdings (Pty) Ltd. (“Chancellor”), a local South African company that was a front for the African National Congress (“ANC”), South Africa’s ruling political party. Hitachi’s arrangement gave Chancellor- and by proxy the ANC- the ability to share in the profits from any power station contracts secured by Hitachi. Hitachi also entered into an undisclosed “success fee” arrangement with Chancellor, wherein Chancellor would be entitled to “success fees” in the event that the contract awards were “substantially as a result” of Chancellor’s efforts.

During the bidding process, Hitachi was aware that Chancellor was a funding vehicle for the ANC. Hitachi nevertheless continued to partner with Chancellor and encourage Chancellor’s use of its political influence to help obtain the government contracts.

As a result, Hitachi was awarded power station contracts in South Africa worth approximately $5.6 billion. In April and July 2008, Hitachi paid the ANC- through Chancellor- “success fees” totaling approximately $1 million.

Hitachi’s South African subsidiary inaccurately recorded its “success fee” payments to Chancellor as “consulting fees” in its books and records for the year ended December 31, 2008. The inaccurate books and records of Hitachi’s subsidiary were consolidated into Hitachi’s financial statements for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2009, which were filed with the Commission.

In 2010, Hitachi’s South African subsidiary also inaccurately recorded a dividend worth over a million dollars to be paid to Chancellor, its 25% shareholder. The journal entry recorded this dividend as “Dividends Declared” in the subsidiary’s books and records for the year ended December 31, 2010. The books and records did not reflect that the dividend was, in fact, an amount due for payment to a foreign political party in exchange for its political influence in assisting Hitachi land two government contracts. The subsidiary’s inaccurate books and records were consolidated into Hitachi’s financial statements for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2011, which were filed with the Commission.”

Based on the above allegations, the SEC charged Hitachi with violating the FCPA’s books and records and internal controls provisions.

The conduct at issue focused on:

  • Hitachi Power Europe GmbH (“HPE”), during the relevant time period a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hitachi based in Germany, that was an international supplier of boilers for power stations; and
  • Hitachi Power Africa (Pty) Ltd. (“HPA”), during the relevant time period, a majority-owned subsidiary of HPE based in South Africa, that executed power station orders in South Africa.

The SEC’s complaint alleges as follows regarding Chancellor House:

“Chancellor House Holdings (Pty) Ltd. is a South African investment finn created by the ANC as a funding vehicle. Chancellor was named after a building in downtown Johatmesburg that in the 1950s housed the law finn of Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo, two future ANC presidents. From 2005 to at least 2008, Chancellor’s parent organization, Chancellor House Trust, was administered by a member of the ANC National Executive Committee and a director of Eskom Enterprises, an Eskom subsidiary.”

Eskom is described as follows.

“Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. (“Eskom”) is a government-owned and government-run public utility established by the Government of South Africa. Eskom supplies approximately 95% of all electricity in South Africa and the Government of South Africa is Eskom’s sole shareholder. Thus, Eskom is an instrumentality of a foreign government. From 2006 to at least 2008, Eskom’s chainnan simultaneously served as a member of the ANC’s National Executive Committee.”

According to the SEC:

“While its political com1ections were extensive, Chancellor lacked any engineering or operational capabilities that could assist Hitachi with contract perfotmance should it secure the Eskom contracts. Chancellor differed in this respect from at least one other local South African entity that Hitachi initially considered for partnership with HPA.

Hitachi was fully aware of Chancellor’s operational shortcomings, and sought a partnership with Chancellor precisely because Chancellor would not provide it operational support. From an internal profile of Chancellor prepared in 2005, HPE’s senior management was advised that Chancellor “has a lean HQ staff and it does not get involved in the operational business of the companies in which it invests. Supp0rt for invested companies is provided via networking at board level.” The internal profile also specifically highlighted Chancellor’s “good connections within Eskom.”

The SEC further alleged:

“[I]n total, Chancellor – the ANC’s funding vehicle – received approximately $10.5 million from Hitachi, a return of over 5,000% on its investment in HPA.”

As to internal controls, the SEC specifically alleged:

“During the time it was registered with the Commission, Hitachi failed to devise and maintain an adequate system of internal accounting controls. HPE and HPA were able to enter into a shareholders’ agreement and an undisclosed “success fee” arrangement with Chancellor- a front for the ANC- to pay that entity for exerting its political influence. Although HPE had a code of conduct in place before the success fees were paid that specifically prohibited contributions to political parties, HPA paid Chancellor more than $1.1 million pursuant to this side-arrangement. HPA was able to do so despite a stream of reporting in the South African media that publicized the fact that HPA’s 25% shareholder was a funding vehicle for the ANC.

HPA also was able to record Chancellor’s invoices for success fee payments as “consulting” expenses, which they were not, without proper documentation or reasonable detail. Hitachi’s intemal accounting controls failed again when Hitachi declared and recorded as dividends to be paid to Chancellor transactions that, in fact, would instead be payments to a foreign political party for its assistance in securing govemment contracts. Among other further intemal accounting controls deficiencies, Hitachi failed to conduct adequate due diligence of Chancellor, a potential agent and a potential shareholder of HPA, and to keep records of such due diligence, even though Hitachi intended for Chancellor to use its political influence to help obtain government contracts.

Hitachi’s intemal accounting controls, or lack thereof, also were inadequate to provide reasonable assurances that Hitachi would not violate its own codes of conduct and compliance policies, the FCPA, or South African law. For example, Hitachi failed to adequately supervise and ensure compliance with its policies and procedures, and neither HPE nor HP A conducted any FCPA-specific compliance training during the time period in which Hitachi through HPE and HPA- was seeking lucrative contracts with an instrumentality of a foreign government and authorizing the payments of”success fees” to a foreign political party.”

As noted in the SEC’s release, without admitting or denying the SEC’s allegations, Hitachi agreed to settlement that requires it to pay a $19 million penalty and to be enjoined from future FCPA books and records and internal controls violations.

Hitachi was represented by Linda Chatman Thomsen (a former SEC Director of Enforcement, currently at Davis Polk & Wardwell).

BNY Mellon Becomes The First – Of What Is Expected To Be Several Financial Services Companies – To Pony Up Millions Based On Its Internship Practices

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

BNY MellonCongress never intended the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act to be an all-purpose corporate ethics statute.  But with increasing frequency, this is what the DOJ and SEC have converted the FCPA into based on enforcement theories that are rarely subject to judicial scrutiny.

Previously there have been FCPA enforcement actions that included allegations of improper hiring of spouses or children of alleged “foreign officials” (see here for a prior post), but until yesterday there has not been, it is believed, an enforcement action based exclusively on such a theory.

The financial industry has been under intense FCPA scrutiny the past two years (see here for a prior post) concerning its alleged hiring and internship practices. This scrutiny has generated a significant amount of critical commentary.  For instance, in this Wall Street Journal editorial former SEC Commissioner Arthur Levitt called the FCPA scrutiny of the financial industry “scurrilous and hypocritical.”  He wrote:

“If you walk the halls of any institution in the U.S.—Congress, federal courthouses, large corporations, the White House, American embassies and even the offices of the SEC—you are likely to run into friends and family members of powerful and wealthy people.”

Yesterday this scrutiny yielded the first – of what is expected to be many in coming months – enforcement action.

It was against BNY Mellon Corp. (see here for the SEC’s press release) and the action was based on findings the company provided “valuable student internships to family members of foreign government officials affiliated with a Middle Eastern sovereign wealth fund.”

Internships of course have been provided to relatives of customers so long as their have been internships.  For the U.S. government to now equate this with corrupt intent and bribery is questionable.  But then again, FCPA enforcement is not necessarily about the law, but more a game of the SEC using its leverage against risk averse corporations to extract settlement amounts.

Without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings, and based on an enforcement theory not subjected to any judicial scrutiny, BNY Mellon ponied up $14.8 million dollars rather than engage its principal government regulator in litigation.

The SEC’s administrative cease and desist order states in summary fashion:

“This matter concerns violations of the anti-bribery and internal accounting controls provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) by BNY Mellon. The violations took place during 2010 and 2011, when employees of BNY Mellon sought to corruptly influence foreign officials in order to retain and win business managing and servicing the assets of a Middle Eastern sovereign wealth fund.

These officials sought, and BNY Mellon agreed to provide, valuable internships for their family members. BNY Mellon provided the internships without following its standard hiring procedures for interns, and the interns were not qualified for BNY Mellon’s existing internship programs.

BNY Mellon failed to devise and maintain a system of internal accounting controls around its hiring practices sufficient to provide reasonable assurances that its employees were not bribing foreign officials in contravention of company policy.”

Under the heading “BNY Mellon’s Business with the Middle Eastern Sovereign Wealth Fund” the order states:

“During the relevant time period, BNY Mellon’s business in the EMEA region collected fees for services provided to the Middle Eastern Sovereign Wealth Fund. [The Middle Eastern Sovereign Wealth Fund is described as follows.  ”[A] government body responsible for management and administration of assets of a Middle Eastern country, as entrusted to it by that country’s Minister of Finance. The Middle Eastern Sovereign Wealth Fund is wholly owned by that country and was created to perform the function of generating revenue for it. The Minister of Finance serves as Chairman of the Middle Eastern Sovereign Wealth Fund’s Board of Directors and its most senior members are political appointees. The Middle Eastern Sovereign Wealth Fund generally hires external managers to make day-to-day investment decisions concerning its assets.”] Those fees arose from government contracts awarded to BNY Mellon through a process requiring approval from certain foreign government officials, and also from additional assets allocated to BNY Mellon under existing contracts at the discretion of certain foreign government officials.

The Middle Eastern Sovereign Wealth Fund first became a client of BNYM Asset Servicing in 2000, when the European Office [The European Office is described as follows:  ”[T]he Middle Eastern Sovereign Wealth Fund’s office in Europe. The European Office is responsible for managing a portion of the assets entrusted to the Middle Eastern Sovereign Wealth Fund. Unlike the Middle Eastern Sovereign Wealth Fund, its parent, the European Office generally uses its own inhouse investment professionals to actively manage assets for which it is responsible.”] awarded to BNY Mellon custody of certain assets. Since then, BNY Mellon has earned regular fees for the safekeeping and administration of Middle Eastern Sovereign Wealth Fund assets. According to the terms of the custody agreement, these fees are subject to increase from time to time as the European Office allocates additional assets to BNY Mellon. While the total amount of Middle Eastern Sovereign Wealth Fund assets under custody by BNY Mellon has varied over time, during the relevant time period BNY Mellon held Middle Eastern Sovereign Wealth Fund assets totaling approximately $55 billion.

BNY Mellon entered an additional agreement with the European Office in 2003 permitting BNYM Asset Servicing to loan out certain of the Middle Eastern Sovereign Wealth Fund assets under custody within set guidelines, which varied over time.

This securities lending arrangement significantly increased BNY Mellon’s revenues from its dealings with the Middle Eastern Sovereign Wealth Fund. In 2010 and 2011, BNYM Asset Servicing repeatedly sought to modify the lending guidelines, which had been significantly restricted following the 2008 economic crash, in order to bring the guidelines back to pre- 2008 levels and further grow the securities lending business with the Middle Eastern Sovereign Wealth Fund. During the relevant time period, BNYM Asset Servicing sought to increase the amount of assets under custody from the European Office.

In 2009, the Middle Eastern Sovereign Wealth Fund became a client of BNYM Asset Management when the fund entered into an investment management agreement designating the Boutique [described as a wholly owned asset management firm operating within BNYM Asset Management] to manage assets worth approximately $711 million (the “Boutique mandate”). The bulk of the assets under the investment management agreement were funded in November 2009, with an additional portion transferring to BNY Mellon in June 2010. Official X [described as a senior official with the Middle Eastern Sovereign Wealth Fund during the relevant time period] was BNYM Asset Management’s principal point of contact in connection with the Boutique mandate. According to the terms of the agreement, the amount of assets under management was subject to change, as the Middle Eastern Sovereign Wealth Fund could allocate additional assets to the Boutique mandate at any time. In June 2010, the Middle Eastern Sovereign Wealth Fund transferred an additional $689,000 to BNY Mellon under the Boutique mandate. During the relevant time period, BNY Mellon sought to increase the amount of its Middle Eastern Sovereign Wealth Fund assets under management.”

Under the heading “The Internships” the order states:

“Officials X and Y [described as was a senior official at the European Office during the relevant time period] requested that BNY Mellon provide their family members with valuable internships. Officials X and Y made numerous follow-up requests about the status, timing and other details of the internships for their relatives after the internships had been offered, and delivering the internships as requested was seen by certain relevant BNY Mellon employees as a way to influence the officials’ decisions.

In February 2010, at the conclusion of a business meeting, Official X made a personal and discreet request that BNY Mellon provide internships to two of his relatives: his son, Intern A [described as a recent college graduate], and nephew, Intern B [also described as a recent college graduate]. As a Middle Eastern Sovereign Wealth Fund department head, Official X had authority over allocations of new assets to existing managers such as the Boutique, and was viewed within BNY Mellon as a “key decision maker” at the Middle Eastern Sovereign Wealth Fund. Official X later persistently inquired of BNY Mellon employees concerning the status of his internship request, asking whether and when BNY Mellon would deliver the internships. At one point, Official X said to his primary contact at BNY Mellon that the request represented an “opportunity” for BNY Mellon, and that the official could secure internships for his family members from a competitor of BNY Mellon if it did not satisfy his personal request. The same BNY Mellon employee later wrote to a BNY Mellon colleague that Official X had become “angry” because BNY Mellon was experiencing delays in delivering the internships, and had openly questioned the employee’s job performance and professionalism because of the delays.

As reflected in contemporaneous e-mails and other documents, BNY Mellon delivered the valuable internship sought by Official X in order to assist BNY Mellon in obtaining or retaining business. For example:

A Boutique account manager wrote in a February 2010 e-mail concerning the internship request for Interns A and B that BNY Mellon was “not in a position to reject the request from a commercial point of view” even though it was a “personal request” from Official X. The employee stated: “by not allowing the internships to take place, we potentially jeopardize our mandate with [the Middle Eastern Sovereign Wealth Fund].”

In June 2010, an employee of BNY Mellon with primary responsibility for the Asset Management relationship with the Middle Eastern Sovereign Wealth Fund wrote of the internships for Interns A and B: “I want more money for this. I expect more for this. . . . We’re doing [Official X] a favor.”

In a separate e-mail to a different BNY Mellon colleague, the same employee stated “I am working on an expensive ‘favor’ for [Official X] – an internship for his son and cousin (don’t mention to him as this is not official).”

The same employee advised a colleague in human resources: “[W]e have to be careful about this. This is more of a personal request . . . [Official X] doesn’t want [the Middle Eastern Sovereign Wealth Fund] to know about it.” The same employee later directed his administrative assistant to refrain from sending e-mail correspondence concerning Official X’s internship request “because it was a personal favor.”

After granting Official X’s request to hire Interns A and B, BNY Mellon retained the Boutique mandate, and further assets were transferred to BNY Mellon by Official X’s department within a few months.

In February 2010, around the same time that Official X made his initial internship request, Official Y asked through a subordinate European Office employee that BNY Mellon provide an internship to the official’s son, Intern C [also described as a recent college graduate]. As a senior official at the European Office, Official Y had authority to make decisions directly impacting BNY Mellon’s business. Internal BNY Mellon documents reflected Official Y’s importance in this regard, stating that Official Y was “crucial to both retaining and gaining new business” for BNY Mellon. One or more European Office employees acting on Official Y’s behalf later inquired repeatedly about the status and details of the internship, including during discussions of the transfer of European Office assets to BNY Mellon. At the time of Official Y’s initial request, a number of recent client service issues had threatened to weaken the relationship between BNY Mellon and the European Office.

The BNY Mellon employee with primary responsibility for managing the custody relationship with the European Office viewed Official Y’s request as important to assist BNYM Asset Servicing in obtaining or retaining business. For example:

The BNY Mellon custody relationship manager explained to more senior officers within BNY Mellon that granting Official Y’s request was likely to “influence any future decisions taken within [the Middle Eastern Sovereign Wealth Fund].”

The same BNY Mellon relationship manager expressed to colleagues his concern that one of BNY Mellon’s competitors would agree to hire Intern C if BNY Mellon would not, and that BNY Mellon might lose market share to the competitor as a result.

The relationship manager wrote: “Its [sic] silly things like this that help influence who ends up with more assets / retaining dominant position.”

The relationship manager separately wrote that meeting Official Y’s requests was the “only way” to increase BNY Mellon’s share of business from the European Office, aside from obtaining assets in new countries.

After granting Official Y’s request to hire his son, Intern C, BNY Mellon retained its existing custody and securities lending business from the European Office, which continued to grow.

During the relevant time period, BNY Mellon had an established summer internship program for undergraduates as well as a separate summer program for postgraduates actively pursuing a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or similar degree. Admission to the BNY Mellon postgraduate internship program was highly competitive and characterized by stringent hiring standards. To recruit postgraduates, BNY Mellon had relationships with a small number of the most highly selective schools in the United States and the United Kingdom from which it sourced candidates. Successful applicants had to achieve a minimum grade point average, and had to advance through multiple rounds of interviews in addition to having relevant prior work experience and a demonstrated affinity for and interest in financial services work. BNY Mellon also placed an emphasis on relevant leadership experience.

The Interns did not meet these rigorous criteria and BNY Mellon did not evaluate or hire the Interns through its established internship programs. For example, as recent graduates not enrolled in any degree program, the Interns did not meet the basic entrance standard for a BNY Mellon postgraduate internship. Further, contrary to BNY Mellon’s goal of converting student interns to full-time hires, the Interns were to return to the Middle East at the conclusion of their internship and BNY Mellon had no plan to hire them as full-time employees. Nor did the individual Interns have the requisite academic or professional credentials for its existing internship programs.

Though they did not meet the criteria of BNY Mellon’s existing internship programs, BNY Mellon hired Interns A, B and C. Contrary to its standard practice, BNY Mellon decided to hire the Interns before even meeting or interviewing them. Indeed, the special “work experiences” sought by Officials X and Y were not regular undergraduate or graduate summer internships at all, but customized one-of-a-kind training programs. The internships were valuable work experience, and the requesting officials derived significant personal value in being able to confer this benefit on their family members. As requested by Officials X and Y, BNY Mellon designed customized work experiences for the Interns. These bespoke internships were rotational in nature, meaning that Interns A, B and C had the opportunity to work in a number of different BNY Mellon business units, enhancing the value of the work experience beyond that normally provided to BNY Mellon interns. Interns A and B were placed in Boston, Massachusetts and were employed by BNY Mellon from August 6, 2010 through February 25, 2011. Intern C was onboarded and placed in London, England and interned with BNY Mellon from July 4, 2010 through December 17, 2010. These approximately six-month internships were significantly longer than the work experiences typically afforded to BNY Mellon interns through the normal summer internship program.

The internships were neither inexpensive nor easy for BNY Mellon to structure. BNY Mellon determined, because Interns A and B had already graduated from college, that Interns A and B should be paid above the normal salary scale for BNY Mellon undergraduate interns but below the scale for postgraduate interns. Intern C was unpaid. BNY Mellon also coordinated obtaining visas for all three of the Interns so that they could travel from the Middle East to work in the countries in which they were placed. BNY Mellon paid the legal fees and filing costs related to the visas. As the BNY Mellon Asset Management employee responsible for arranging two of the three internships wrote in a contemporaneous e-mail, the internships constituted an “expensive favor” for the requesting foreign official.

BNY Mellon hired all three of the Interns, with the knowledge and approval of senior BNY Mellon employees:

According to the BNY Mellon Asset Management employee with primary responsibility for arranging the internships for Interns A and B, he had initially struggled to deliver the internships as requested by Official X until the internships had the “blessing” of a senior BNY Mellon employee, after which “it started to move.” The senior employee facilitated the internships by contacting human resources on behalf of the Interns, forwarding their resumes and stating that he “would like us to support.”

The BNY Mellon relationship manager with lead responsibility for arranging the internship for Intern C sent an e-mail to two senior BNYM Asset Servicing officers describing Official Y’s request and seeking their “support” for the internship. The same relationship manager later wrote to BNY Mellon colleagues seeking assistance in arranging the internship and stating “[p]lease know that this request has the backing of both [senior officers].”

In October 2010, Official Y made a further request that BNY Mellon modify the custom internship it had created for Intern C so that he could rotate through an additional BNY Mellon business unit. This request was also granted with the knowledge and approval of senior BNY Mellon employees.

The Interns were less than exemplary employees. On at least one occasion, Interns A and B were confronted by a BNY Mellon human resources employee concerning their repeated absences from work. A Boutique portfolio manager who worked with Intern C observed that his performance was “okay” and that “he wasn’t actually as hardworking as I would have hoped.” Despite these issues, BNY Mellon accommodated the Interns in order to favorably influence Officials X and Y.

Under the heading “BNY Mellon’s FCPA-Related Policies, Training and Internal Controls” the order states:

During the relevant time period, BNY Mellon had a code of conduct, as well as a specific FCPA policy, which prohibited BNY Mellon employees from violating the statute. While BNY Mellon’s policies stated that “any money . . . gift . . . or anything of value” provided to a foreign official might constitute a bribe, employees were provided with little additional guidance that was tailored to the types of risks related to hiring faced by BNY Mellon’s international asset servicing unit and asset management business division.

During the relevant time period, BNY Mellon provided training on employees’ obligations under the FCPA and BNY Mellon’s policies, but did not ensure that all employees took the training or understood BNY Mellon’s policies.

During the relevant time period, BNY Mellon had few specific controls relating to the hiring of customers and relatives of customers, including foreign government officials. Sales staff and client relationship managers were permitted wide discretion in making initial hiring decisions and human resources was not trained to flag hires that were potentially problematic. Senior managers were able to approve hires requested by foreign officials with no mechanism to ensure that potential hiring violations were reviewed by anyone with a legal or compliance background. BNY Mellon’s system of internal accounting controls was insufficiently tailored to the corruption risks inherent in the hiring of client referrals, and therefore inadequate to fully effectuate BNY Mellon’s policy against bribery of foreign officials.”

Based on the above, the order finds:

“BNY Mellon violated [the FCPA's anti-bribery provisions] by corruptly providing valuable internships to relatives of foreign officials from the Middle Eastern Sovereign Wealth Fund in order to assist BNY Mellon in retaining and obtaining business. BNY Mellon also violated [the FCPA's internal controls provisions], by failing to devise and maintain a system of internal accounting controls sufficient to provide reasonable assurances that its employees were not bribing foreign officials.”

Under the heading “Commission Consideration of BNY Mellon’s Cooperation and Remedial Efforts” the order states:

“In determining to accept the Offer, the Commission considered cooperation BNY Mellon afforded to the Commission staff and the remedial acts undertaken by BNY Mellon. Prior to the investigation by the Commission of the Interns, BNY Mellon had begun a process of enhancing its anti-corruption compliance program including: making changes to the Anti-Corruption Policy to explicitly address the hiring of government officials’ relatives; requiring that every application for a full-time hire or an internship be routed through a centralized HR application process; enhancing its Code of Conduct to require that every year each employee certifies that he or she is not responsible for hiring through a non-centralized channel; and requiring as part of a centralized application process that each applicant indicate whether she or a close personal associate is or has recently been a government official, and, if so, additional review by BNY Mellon’s anti-corruption office is mandated.”

In the SEC’s press release, Andrew Ceresney (Director of the SEC Enforcement Division) stated:

“The FCPA prohibits companies from improperly influencing foreign officials with ‘anything of value,’ and therefore cash payments, gifts, internships, or anything else used in corrupt attempts to win business can expose companies to an SEC enforcement action. BNY Mellon deserved significant sanction for providing valuable student internships to family members of foreign officials to influence their actions.”

Kara Brockmeyer (Chief of the SEC’s FCPA Unit) stated:

“Financial services providers face unique corruption risks when seeking to win business in international markets, and we will continue to scrutinize industries that have not been vigilant about complying with the FCPA.”

As noted in the release:

“Without admitting or denying the findings, the company agreed to pay $8.3 million in disgorgement, $1.5 million in prejudgment interest, and a $5 million penalty.  The SEC considered the company’s remedial acts and its cooperation with the investigation when determining a settlement.”

Yesterday BNY Mellon’s share price closed up .7%.

Jay Holtmeier (Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr) represented the company.

DOJ / SEC Bring FCPA Enforcement Action Against Former SAP Sales Exec

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

GarciaYesterday the DOJ and SEC announced (see here and here) a rare joint Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action against an individual – Vicente Garcia (a U.S. citizen and former head of Latin American sales for SAP – see here for Garcia’s SAP biography).

SEC Action

The SEC brought this administrative cease and desist order against Garcia.

In summary fashion, the order states:

“This matter concerns violations of the anti-bribery, books and records and internal controls provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 (“FCPA”) by Vicente E. Garcia (“Garcia”), a U.S. citizen and the head of Latin American sales for SAP SE (“SAP”), a European Union corporation headquartered in Waldorf, Germany. SAP provides technology solutions and services in approximately 188 countries and has more than 68,000 employees. Garcia and others offered to pay bribes to two government officials, and paid bribes of at least $145,000 to another senior government official of the Republic of Panama in order to secure software license sales of approximately $3.7 million to various government agencies; the sales were recorded initially in the books and records of SAP Mexico and subsequently consolidated into the financial statements of SAP. Garcia circumvented SAP’s internal controls by falsely justifying the discount amount offered to its local partner. In doing so Garcia helped to facilitate the local partner’s ability to generate excess earnings on the final, end-user sale, which earnings were then used to create a slush fund to finance the bribes paid to government officials.”

The order finds as follows.

“From at least June 2009 through November 2013, Garcia, along with others, planned and executed a scheme to offer and pay bribes to three senior government officials of the Republic of Panama in order to obtain approximately $3.7 million worth of software sales by SAP to the Panamanian government. Garcia, in concert with others, paid bribes to one Panamanian government official in the amount of $145,000, and promised to pay bribes to two other government officials, all in contravention of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 (the “FCPA”).

Garcia was SAP’s Vice-President of Global and Strategic Accounts, responsible for sales in Latin America from February 2008 until April 2014, when SAP requested that he resign for his misconduct discussed herein. Garcia was employed by SAPI and worked on large deals all over Latin America using resources and personnel from other SAP subsidiaries including SAP Mexico.

SAP, through its 272 subsidiaries, sells software licenses and related services to 263,000 customers in 188 countries. SAP’s global business is directed and operated from its headquarters in Waldorf, Germany and executed through its numerous subsidiaries. Approximately 15% of SAP’s sales are directly to the customer. The remainder of SAP’s business is conducted through a network of more than 11,500 partners worldwide that provide an additional workforce of 380,000 individuals skilled in SAP software solutions and technology. SAP’s sales using a partner can be either (i) a direct sale to a customer with a sales commission paid to a partner that provides assistance, (ii) an indirect sale through a partner that purchases the software license and resells it to a customer at an independently determined increased price, or (iii) a direct sale to the partner, which acts as a distributor and independently resells the software licenses to customers in the future.

In June 2009, Garcia’s business associate, a Panamanian lobbyist (the “Lobbyist”), informed Garcia about potential software sales opportunities with the government of Panama and that he had an existing relationship with the newly elected government, including a high ranking Government Official A, who was tasked with improving technology solutions across multiple government agencies in Panama and had significant influence over Panama’s software purchasing decisions. Thereafter, SAP began investigating possible software sales to the Panamanian government. Initially this endeavor was led by local SAP sales employees in Mexico. Garcia, however, took over the business opportunity by recommending that SAP designate the Panama government as part of the Premier Customer Network – a group of large, strategically important, regional customers – which Garcia headed.

On February 9, 2010, Government Official A asked in an e-mail whether SAP could send him a letter inviting him to Mexico for “some fictional meetings in order to justify a trip there on Monday and Tuesday of Carnival.” The same day, Garcia acceded to the request and sent an e-mail to Government Official A with an attached fictitious letter on SAP letterhead inviting him “to Mexico City so that you can directly and personally evaluate the benefits that the Government of Mexico has obtained by adopting our products and services.” The letter also included a fictitious itinerary of proposed meetings that never occurred. The next day, on February 10, Garcia sent an e-mail from his personal Yahoo! e-mail account inquiring about possible business opportunities from Government Official A stating: “Any news . . . ? Was the document OK for him? Can you ask him to finalize a deal for us in Feb-March, I need between $5 and $10 million.”

In late February 2010, Garcia and another SAP employee traveled from Miami, Florida to Panama and met with Government Official A and others to discuss business opportunities. Thereafter, in April 2010, Garcia began preparing a proposal to sell approximately $29 million worth of software licenses to the Panamanian social security agency, anticipating that this sale would be the first of multiple deals with various ministries and agencies of the Panamanian government totaling over $100 million. Ultimately, some of these additional sales never materialized and others were smaller than expected.

Garcia and others were informed by the Lobbyist that in order to obtain these contracts from the government of Panama, they needed to bribe three Panamanian government officials that had significant influence in the Panamanian government’s award of contracts to purchase software.

In anticipation of the sales to the government of Panama, Garcia and others began planning the details of the bribery scheme. On June 9 and 10, 2010, Garcia discussed with others, including via e-mail, their plans to pay bribes to Government Official A (2% of the value of the contract) and Government Official B (10%), and receive kickbacks for themselves (2%). Also, on October 26, 2010, e-mails were exchanged with two attached spreadsheets referencing planned payments to Government Officials A and C of approximately $100,000 and $300,000, respectively.

To facilitate payments to Government Official B, the Lobbyist proposed using a sham contract for fictitious services to be provided by Government Official B’s brother-in-law’s company. On June 17, 2010, Government Official A received two draft sham contracts with the stated purpose of having these two back-to-back contracts so that “no trace remains if SAP conducts an audit . . . . I made it as simple as possible and made it look like a real contract.” On June 18, 2010, the Lobbyist e-mailed Garcia an unsigned corrected copy of the proposed consulting agreement, which provided that Government Official B’s brother-in-law’s company would receive “10% (ten percent) for performance of its Services and Consulting duties” relating to all “business opportunities” with the Panamanian government.

On October 19, 2011, the Lobbyist e-mailed a spreadsheet to Government Official C indicating that they would share $274,000 in 2011 and $226,000 in 2012. On January 9, 2013, another business associate of Garcia e-mailed Government Official A stating that Garcia and his business associate had agreed to give Government Official A some of their kickback so that Government Official A could receive a larger “commission” of $150,000. In addition, the business associate confirmed that Government Official A already had been paid $45,000 and acknowledged that $105,000 was still outstanding.

As a result of Garcia’s conduct in the bribery scheme, SAP, with its local partner, was able to sell software to the Panamanian government through four contracts from 2010 to 2013. These contracts generated revenues of $3.7 million to SAP.

One of the four contracts was a software license sale to the Panamanian social security agency, which was initially proposed to be a direct sale with the assistance of local partners. In order to facilitate the bribery scheme, the existing partners were replaced with a new local Panamanian partner. Because SAP refused to pay additional commission to this new Panamanian company, Garcia and others began looking for other ways to advance the bribery scheme. Finally, in the fall of 2010, Garcia finalized an indirect sale of the software license to the agency through the local partner, which, with Garcia’s assistance, ultimately sought and obtained an 82% discount on the sale price. Garcia caused various approval forms to be submitted that misstated the reasons for the large discount. Garcia stated that the discounts were necessary to compete with other software companies in establishing a relationship with the government of Panama when, in fact, the discounts were necessary to pay bribes to government officials. Garcia and others planned to sell SAP software to the intermediary at an 82% discount, who in turn would sell them at significantly higher prices to the Panamanian government and use part of the profits from the sale to pay bribes.

SAP agreed to sell the software licenses for the Panamanian social security agency to the local partner for approximately $2.1 million. In November 2010, the local partner successfully bid $14.5 million for the contract, which was awarded by the Panamanian government on January 31, 2011. Garcia, along with others, planned to pay bribes to Panamanian government officials from the proceeds of the software sale to the government of Panama.

Thereafter, as noted above, between June 2012 and December 2013, the Panamanian government awarded three additional contracts that included SAP software products valued at approximately $13.5 million, which were also sold at deep discounts by SAP to its local partner. For these contracts also, Garcia and others agreed to pay bribes to Panamanian officials from the proceeds of the software sales.

Between April 11, 2012 and August 13, 2013, Garcia and his business associate paid at least $145,000 in bribes to Government Official A. Between December 27, 2011 and October 29, 2012, another Garcia business associate paid Garcia a kickback of approximately $85,965 in his bank account in Florida from the proceeds of the sale of SAP software licenses to the Panamanian government. Thus, Garcia, with the assistance of others, bribed one government official and promised to pay bribes to two other government officials to obtain contracts to sell software to Panamanian government, all in violation of the FCPA.”

Based on the above, the order finds:

“By engaging in the conduct described above, Garcia, as an agent of SAP, violated [the anti-bribery provisions] in connection with the sale of software licenses and other related services to the government of Panama. On behalf of SAP, Garcia participated in structuring the deal as an indirect sale through the local partner, with the understanding that it would act as a conduit to send corrupt payments to several government officials. Garcia, along with others, promised to make bribe payments to two senior government officials and made bribe payments to another government official, all in violation of the FCPA. Garcia used the mails and other means and instrumentalities of interstate commerce to bribe government officials. Garcia used his SAP email account and his personal Yahoo! e-mail account to plan and execute the bribery scheme. In addition, as part of the bribery scheme, Garcia flew from Miami to Panama to meet with government officials and others, and Garcia received $85,965 in “kickbacks” into his bank account in Florida.”

“Garcia knowingly falsified SAP Mexico’s books and records by engaging in a scheme to create a slush fund at the local partner, which was used to pay bribes to Panamanian government officials. Garcia also knowingly circumvented the company’s internal controls to change the sale of the software licenses from a direct sale to the government of Panama to an indirect sale through intermediaries at deep discounts in order to facilitate payments to government officials. Specifically, Garcia justified the deep discounts by falsely claiming in approval forms that the discounts were necessary to beat competitors and obtain entry into the Panamanian market when, in fact, the discounts were necessary to generate funds to pay bribes to government officials. With respect to the leisure trip for Government Official A, Garcia prepared a fictitious letter and itinerary, and even used a personal e-mail account to avoid detection of his corrupt activities. Finally, despite signing SAP’s Code of Conduct prohibiting bribery, he engaged in an elaborate bribery scheme. Accordingly, Garcia violated Section 13(b)(5) of the Exchange Act, and Rule 13b2-1.”

In the SEC release, Kara Brockmeyer (Chief of the SEC’s FCPA Unit) stated: “Garcia attempted to avoid detection by arranging large, illegitimate discounts to a corporate partner in order to generate a cash pot to bribe government officials and win business for SAP.”

As noted in the SEC’s release,  the order “finds that Garcia violated the anti-bribery and internal controls provisions of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.  Garcia consented to the entry of the cease-and-desist order and agreed to pay disgorgement of $85,965, which is the total amount of kickbacks he received, plus prejudgment interest of $6,430 for a total of $92,395.”

DOJ Action

Based on the same core conduct described above, in July the DOJ filed this criminal information against Garcia charging conspiracy to violate the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions. As noted in the DOJ’s release, Garcia pleaded guilty and sentencing is to occur on Dec. 16, 2015.

Note – the plea agreement was filed with the court yesterday but is not publicly available.  This post will be updated when the plea agreement is made public.