Archive for the ‘Victims’ Category

Let’s Pause Before We Dole Out Dollars

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

Out of thin airPrevious posts here and here addressed the calls of some that settlement amounts in an FCPA enforcement action be, at least in part, returned to the so-called victims of the underlying bribery.

Today’s post is from Joe Murphy.

Murphy is the author of 501 Ideas for Your Compliance and Ethics Program (SCCE; 2008) and a frequent commentator on compliance issues.

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There was recently an online posting championing the idea of the Department of Justice using some of the $9 billion criminal penalty imposed on one company for violations of sanctions against Sudan, Iran and Cuba to compensate victims of the regimes in those countries.  The Department would explore who those victims were and determine how to compensate them.

As a student of political science, I find this worrisome.  Any figure with that many zeros behind it is real money.  And, it can fairly be said, that money is a form of power.  Here we would have unelected enforcement officials making policy decisions about how to spend large pools of funds. Determining exactly who were the victims of such systemic violations is not simply an administrative task; there will be important policy decisions to be made, including matters of foreign policy.

When the fines were small this could be considered an incidental function. But when the amounts are in the billions, this is cause for much more consideration. Sure, we are often frustrated by the slow process of legislative deliberation, but that is the governmental system we have chosen. The raising and allocation of funds is subject to a system of checks and balances.  We live in a democracy, not a government of selected elites who choose to spend money as they think best. Enforcement officials should be enforcing the law and taking steps to prevent violations. Courts should be hearing disputes and resolving conflicts. But they are not legislatures and should not be selecting where to dole out billions of dollars in funds.

As the size of criminal fines has ballooned we have passed the point where this issue can be ignored.  There are serious policy issues.  If, on the one hand, the funds were simply added to the general funds of the government we would also have the troublesome issue of law enforcement being converted into a revenue-raising operation.  This specter is seen in Europe, where the EU’s competition law enforcers sometimes seem more like revenue agents than public servants dedicated to preventing violations. Consider the institutional bias this would introduce if an enforcement agency is a funding source for government operations.  Instead of having an incentive to stamp out violations, there would at least appear to be an opposite interest:  let the violations ripen into large cases so there is more revenue to harvest.

On the other hand, if the proceeds go elsewhere, then what is done with the money and who decides?  In the US at the federal level the proceeds go to victim reimbursement.  But as the cases deal with systematic violations or ones where victims are not clearly defined, this is not so easy.  When the violations are not simply theft, how do we determine who the victims are?  Who makes those decisions?  Is there a process in place capable of handling this?  And in a system where the victims are capable of pursuing their own compensation through litigation, what happens to the penalty funds generated by government?

If enforcers are allocating billions of dollars, can lobbying for that money be far behind?  What alert non-profit would pass up the opportunity to have access to those funds? And, as the enforcers should know well, dealing in those sums eventually invites fraud.  Will the enforcers require reports on how the funds were spent?  Will they audit or investigate this?  Will they then be allocating resources to monitor their grants to the victims and those who purport to benefit the victims?  Is this a business we want enforcers conducting?

Giving this level of power to enforcement officials should at least cause us to stop and think more about the process. They were not trained in how to do this, they were not selected for this, and they are not accountable to the public for what they do. Up until now, this question has not only not been answered, but for the most part it is not even being asked.  I find this at least a cause for concern.

Am I A Victim?

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

What woudl you doIn just the past two months, the Department of Justice has announced that:

a former Drug Enforcement Administration employee pleaded guilty to defrauding the government out of more than $113,000 using fraudulently issued government credit cards;

two former federal agents were criminally charged with money laundering and other fraud offenses in connection with a U.S. government investigation;

a Customs and Border Protection Officer was criminally sentenced for personally benefiting from a government program he was charged with overseeing;

a former U.S. Army specialist was criminally indicted for accepting bribes from Afghan truck drivers in exchange for allowing the drivers to take thousands of gallons of fuel from the base for resale on the black market.

a former U.S. Air Force captain pleaded guilty to various criminal charges in connection with serving as a contracting official at Camp Eggers, near Kabul, Afghanistan (in which he administered at least three major U.S. government contracts, all held by the same Afghan company, for the purchase of clothing and footwear for Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF)) while at the same negotiating his future employment with the same Afghan company that held the contracts he administered.

a  former U.S. Postal Service contracting officer was criminally indicted for engaging in a scheme to defraud the Postal Service through bribery and kickbacks in connection with the awarding of contracts to deliver the mail.

An Army National Guard recruiter and recruiting assistant were criminally convicted for their roles in a bribery and fraud scheme.

An Army National Guard official pleaded guilty for accepting a $30,000 bribe in exchange for steering a $3.6 million contract to a retired sergeant major of the Minnesota Army National Guard and his consulting company.

The above examples are from just the past two months.  Search DOJ press releases for the past six months or year and the list grows much, much longer.

The common thread in the above criminal prosecutions is that a U.S. official abused a position of authority and trust for their own personal enrichment and placed their interests ahead of the public interest.

I am a U.S. citizen.

Am I thus a victim of the above criminal conduct?  Do I deserve compensation?  Does my community deserve a new school or playground?

I personally believe that the answers to the above questions is no as there is little direct casual link to the alleged activity and me.

Why then in the context of FCPA enforcement actions (actions which allege that a person or entity subject to the FCPA made or offered money or anything of value to a foreign official who abused a position of authority and trust for their own personal enrichment) have some advocated compensating the “victims” of the conduct violating the FCPA – namely the citizens of the foreign official’s country?  (See here for example).

I have long opposed such feel good measures for a variety of reasons. (See here, here and here) (See here for my most recent explanation).

Perhaps though I need to start viewing myself as a victim of the numerous U.S. bribery and corruption schemes involving U.S. officials.

Will anyone start advocating on my behalf?

 

 

Friday Roundup

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

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

Looking for FCPA Talent?  Got Talent

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

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

FBI Announcement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bourke Related

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

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

Set forth below is the Q&A:

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

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

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

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

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

To FCPA Inc.

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

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

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

For the Reading Stack

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A good weekend to all and “On Wisconsin.”

Friday Roundup

Friday, March 6th, 2015

Roundup2Scrutiny alerts, asset recovery, and for the reading stack.  It’s all here in the Friday roundup.

Scrutiny Alerts

Akamai Technologies

Akamai Technologies, Inc., a company that provides cloud services for delivering, optimizing and securing online content and business applications, recently disclosed:

“We are conducting an internal investigation, with the assistance of outside counsel, relating to sales practices in a country outside the U.S. that represented less than 1% of our revenue in each of the years ended December 31, 2014, 2013 and 2012. The internal investigation includes a review of compliance with the requirements of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and other applicable laws and regulations by employees in that market.  In February 2015, we voluntarily contacted the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and Department of Justice to advise both agencies of this internal investigation.”

Soco International

As reported by Global Witness:

“A leader of a cross-party anti-corruption group of British MPs yesterday called for UK and US authorities to investigate claims that Soco International, a London-listed oil company, may have breached anti-corruption legislation in the course of its work in Africa’s oldest national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.”

[...]

[At a recent] Westminster Hall debate Tessa Munt, Liberal Democrat MP for Wells and vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Anti-Corruption, said: “It is surely incumbent on the UK government and its agencies to ensure that any credible evidence of corruption and other criminal behaviour by a UK company, as we have here, is fully investigated by the relevant authorities.”

Munt explained that Soco’s American executive directors are employed by a Delaware-registered subsidiary. As a result, she said, “these individuals fall within the jurisdiction of the United States, and there seems to be a case to be made that Soco International, under their stewardship, has breached the terms of America’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.” Anas Sarwar MP, co-chair of the anti-corruption group, also raised concerns about the involvement of offshore companies in Soco’s corporate structure.

“The questions raised by British Members of Parliament highlight the urgent need for both Soco and the relevant authorities in the UK and the US to closely examine the company’s conduct in Virunga,” said Nathaniel Dyer, a campaigner at Global Witness. “Companies cannot be allowed to get away with criminal behaviour just because it happens in remote locations like Congo – if Soco is found to have broken the law, it must face the consequences.”

David Lidington MP, a Foreign Office Minister responding on behalf of the government, said that the UK’s Serious Fraud Office was aware of allegations against Soco and that he would look into the channels for exchanging information with US authorities.”

Asset Recovery

Separate from FCPA enforcement, another prong of the DOJ’s fight against global corruption is its Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative which seeks return of the proceeds of foreign official corruption to benefit the people harmed by acts of corruption and abuse of office.

As noted in this recent release:

“[The] Department of Justice has reached a settlement of its civil forfeiture cases against $1.2 million in assets in the United States traceable to corruption proceeds accumulated by Chun Doo Hwan, the former president of the Republic of Korea.  The department also assisted the government of the Republic of Korea in recovering an additional $27.5 million in satisfaction of an outstanding criminal restitution order against former President Chun.”

In the release, Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell stated:

“Chun Doo Hwan’s campaign of corruption and bribery while serving as Korea’s president betrayed the trust of the Korean people, deprived Korea’s government of precious resources and undermined the rule of law. Fighting corruption is a global imperative that demands a coordinated global response.  The close cooperation between the United States and Korea in successfully recovering corruption proceeds stands as a testament to our resolve to battle the scourge of corruption through international collaboration.”

Assistant Director in Charge David Bowdich of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office stated:

“The U.S. will not idly standby and serve as a money laundering haven for foreign officials to hide corrupt activities. The FBI will continue to collaborate with our foreign partners by leveraging its resources in order to identify those engaged in foreign corruption and to recover their ill-gotten gains.”

For the Reading Stack

Proposals for U.S. FCPA enforcement agencies to share FCPA settlement amounts with so-called victims in the country at issue may sound good, but are not warranted.  In this Center for International Private Enterprise article I explain why.

A Q&A with the author of “Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security.”  For additional coverage of the book, see here.

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A good weekend to all.

A Suggested Read On A Variety Of Topics

Monday, November 10th, 2014

Read ThisSeveral prior posts (here, here, and here) have focused on basic causation issues in connection with many Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement actions.

The lack of causation between an alleged bribe payment and any alleged business obtained or retained is not a legal defense because the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions prohibit the offer, payment, promise to pay or authorization of the payment of any money or thing of value.  Indeed, several FCPA enforcement actions have alleged unsuccessful bribery attempts in which no business was actually obtained or retained.

Nevertheless, causation ought to be relevant when calculating FCPA settlement amounts, specifically disgorgement.  However, the prevailing FCPA enforcement theory often seems to be that because Company A made improper payments to allegedly obtain or retain Contract A, then all of Company A’s net profits associated with Contract A are subject to disgorgement.

Call it the “but for” theory. “But for” the alleged improper payments, Company A would not have obtained or retained the business.

However, this basic enforcement theory ignores the fact that Company A (as is often the case in FCPA enforcement actions) is generally viewed as selling the best product for the best price and because of this, or a host of other reasons, probably would have obtained or retained the business in the absence of any alleged improper payments.

If this general issue is of any interest to you (and it ought to be because it is instructive on many levels) you should read a recent U.K. decision in a civil case arising out of the same core facts alleged in the 2010 FCPA enforcement action against Innospec (see here for the prior post).

In addition, if the so-called “victim” issue in FCPA enforcement actions is of interest to you (i.e. because the FCPA involves bribery and corruption, when there is an FCPA enforcement action, there must be a victim) , you also should read the recent U.K. decision because it is instructive on this issue as well.

Prior to discussing the recent U.K. decision, a bit of background is necessary.

In 2010, Innospec agreed to pay approximately $26 million to resolve DOJ and SEC enforcement actions (see here).  The conduct was wide-ranging in that the enforcement action involved alleged violations of U.S. sanctions regarding doing business in Cuba in addition to alleged conduct in violation of the FCPA.  Even as to the FCPA conduct, the enforcement action was wide-ranging and included “standard” Iraq Oil-for-Food allegations found in a number of previous enforcement actions (i.e. inflated commission payments to an agent which were then used to pay kickbacks to the government of Iraq) as well as alleged conduct in Indonesia.

The bulk of the enforcement action though concerned DOJ allegations that Ousama Naaman (Innospec’s agent in Iraq) paid various bribes to officials in Iraq’s Ministry of Oil (“MoO”) to “ensure” that a competitor’s product “failed a field trial test and therefore would not be used by the MoO” as well as other allegations that Naaman paid other bribes to officials of the MoO to obtain and retain contracts with MoO on Innospec’s behalf.

The DOJ’s criminal information alleged (or perhaps merely assumed) a casual connection between the alleged bribes and the failed field test, as well as two specific contracts: a 2004 Long Term Purchase Agreement (“LTPA”) and a 2008 Long Term Purchase Agreement.

As often happens in this day and age, an Innospec competitor used the core conduct alleged in the DOJ’s enforcement action “offensively” in bringing civil claims against Innospec and various individuals in a U.K. court.

As highlighted in the U.K. decision, the claims were brought by a Jordanian company which alleged that Innospec “conspired to injure the claimants by engaging in corrupt practices, in particular the bribery of officials within the [MoO] with the intention of inducing its refineries to buy TEL rather than MMT …”.

TEL refers to a lead based fuel additive called tetraethyl lead and MMT refers to methylcyclopentadienyl manganese tricarbonyl, a product developed as a manganese based octane boosting and antiknock additive which was less toxic than TEL.

The U.K. decision is extremely dense as to the facts and circumstances surrounding the MoO’s decision to use TEL vs. MMT.

Relevant to the “but for” causation topic of this post, and as described by the U.K. court, the claimants “claim damages for the losses they allege they have suffered as a consequence of the conspiracy on the basis that, but for the bribery and corruption, the MoO would have started to purchase MMT ….”.  As further described by the U.K. court, ”the claimants also allege that between 2002 and 2008 payments were authorized by Innospec for travel and other expenses, including pocket money for Iraqi officials to incur goodwill and ensure continued orders of TEL.”

In the words of the U.K. court, in order for the claims to succeed, the claimants had to establish, among other things, that the decision to replace TEL with MMT “was not implemented because the promise of bribes by Mr. Naaaman procured the MoO to enter into the 2004 LTPA and that prevented sales of MMT” and “that, but for the promise of bribes, the decision would have been implemented and the MoO would have replaced TEL with MMT from early 2004 onwards, so that the counterfactual scenario on which the claim is based would have occurred.”  (Confusing verbiage to be sure, but that is what the decision says).

As noted in the U.K. decision, Innospec denied that bribes or the promise of bribes induced the 2004 LTPA, lead to the requirement of the field test or its result, or induced the 2008 LTPA.  Innospec argued that despite its admissions in the FCPA enforcement actions, the “court must look carefully and analytically at the evidence there is as to what bribes were paid and promised and when and whether any bribes paid or promised actually led to a decision different from that which would have been made anyway.”

In short, instead of merely alleging or assuming causation between alleged bribe payments and business or other benefits like the U.S. did in the FCPA enforcement action, the U.K. court held approximately 15 days of hearings with multiple witnesses to actually determine if there was a casual link between the alleged bribe payments or other benefits that Innospec obtained.

The end result of this process is that the U.K. court did not find any casual links and indeed found false certain allegations in the DOJ’s FCPA enforcement action.

For instance, as to the DOJ’s allegations that “Naaman, on behalf of Innospec, paid approximately $150,000 in bribes to officials of the MoO to ensure that MMT … failed a field trial test and therefore would not be used by the MoO as a replacement for TEL,” the U.K. court concluded that Naaman never made such payments.  Indeed, the U.K. court noted Naaman’s admission (which occurred after resolution of Innospec’s FCPA enforcement action) ”that he had never in fact paid the U.S. $150,000 in bribes to MoO officials to fail the field test, but had simply pocketed the money himself.”

In the words of the court, ”this has an important impact on the issue of causation.”

Regarding Innospec’s admission in the FCPA enforcement action that Naaman did indeed make such payments, the U.K. court stated:

“Unbeknownst to Innospec at the time they admitted these allegations, Mr. Naaman never in fact paid any of these monies to Iraqi officials, but notwithstanding that, Innospec had committed the relevant offense under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by making payments to him, believing they were reimbursing him for bribes paid, even though in truth they were not.”

In the words of the U.K. court, Naaman became upset that Innospec was not reimbursing him for certain expenses he viewed as being owed to him and that Naaman “saw the field test on MMT as an opportunity to recoup those expenses and informed Innospec that he proposed bribing the Iraqi engineers to fail the field test.  Innospec readily agreed and paid him some U.S. $150,000, expecting it would be used for bribes.  He kept the funds himself, believing that MMT would fail the field test [...]  On the material before the court, this was the first time it had emerged (some 10 months after Innospec signed the [U.S.] Plea Agreement) that money Innospec had paid to Mr. Naaman believing he had paid or promised to pay bribes was not so paid but simply pocketed by him.”

Regarding the 2004 LTPA that the DOJ alleged was a result of alleged improper payments to Iraqi officials, the U.K. court first noted the following about the U.S. invasion of Iraqi:

“[T]he U.S. authorities put Kellogg, Brown & Root in charge of procurement for the requirements of the Iraqi refineries, effectively replacing the finance department within the MoO.  All spending had to be approved by KBR which was the only entity which could actually conclude contracts and purchase products.”

“It seems to me that claimants’ case overlooks the fact that any switch to MMT would have had to be approved by KBR, and the weight of evidence at this time in August 2003 and thereafter is that KBR was not particularly enamoured of MMT, pointing strongly to the likelihood that, even if the claimants were right that there was a decision to continue with TEL and not to switch to MMT, which was in some way induced by bribery, the MoO may well have been driven to the same decision irrespective of bribery, because of the attitude of KBR.”

Elsewhere, the U.K. court termed it “fanciful in the extreme” certain of claimants’ evidence which sought to establish causation between the alleged bribes and business to Innospec.

In short, the U.K. court concluded that the 2004 LTPA was not procured by bribery.  Further the U.K. court stated:

“[T]he decision to enter the LTPA had to be and was endorsed by the American authorities .  Since there is no basis for saying that they were corrupted by the payment or promise of bribes, that is further demonstration that the LTPA was not procured by bribery.”

Indeed, in the words of the U.K. court, “bribery [was] the least likely explanation” for certain MoO decisions regarding the conduct at issue.  Elsewhere, the court stated that any suggestion that considerations made by the MoO “was induced or influenced by bribery by Innospec would be frankly ridiculous” and a “logical non-sequitur and a step too far.”

In closing, the U.K. court stated that even if it were wrong – and that the 2004 LTPA was procured by bribery ” that the MOO would always have followed the course they did, of continuing to use TEL given the octane boost they needed …”.

In terms of the 2008 LTPA, the U.K. court found that “no orders were ever placed under the LTPA, since the investigations by the U.S. authorities intervened.”

In short, what happened in the U.K. action was rather remarkable.

Certain facts alleged in a DOJ FCPA enforcement were subjected to an adversarial process and the resulting judicial scrutiny found certain facts false.  Moreover, instead of merely alleging or assuming causation, as if often the case in FCPA enforcement actions as relevant to determining settlement amounts, the U.K. court analyzed causation and found it lacking.

The U.K. action is also instructive when it comes to analyzing whether there are so-called “victims” in all FCPA enforcement actions.  In the past several years, there has been calls by some for portions of FCPA settlement amounts to be paid out to “victims” of the conduct alleged in the FCPA enforcement action.  (See here and here for prior posts). The general theory seems to be – for example – that if an FCPA enforcement action alleges bribes paid in Nigeria, Nigerian citizens must therefore be the “victims” of the conduct and thus somehow entitled to compensation.

As highlighted in prior posts, while this proposal “feels good,” it is not warranted for many different reasons.  In short, this proposal assumes two things:  (i) that FCPA enforcement actions always represent provable FCPA violations; and (ii) that there is a always a casual connection between the alleged bribes influencing “foreign official” conduct, that then always causes harm to the citizens of the “foreign official’s” country.

As to the first issue, such an assumption is not always warranted given that the vast majority of FCPA enforcement actions are resolved via non-prosecution agreements, deferred prosecution agreements, neither admit nor deny SEC settlements, or SEC administrative orders.  These resolution vehicles often represent the end result of a risk adverse business decision, not necessarily provable FCPA violations.  For instance, in the words of the Second Circuit, SEC neither admit nor deny settlements are not about the truth, but pragmatism.  For this reason, a typical FCPA resolution vehicle should not automatically trigger other actions or issues (whether plaintiff litigation, whistleblower bounties, or payments to an ill-defined group of alleged victims).

As to the second issue, such an assumption is also not always warranted.  Several FCPA enforcement actions fit into one of the following categories: (i) unsuccessful bribery attempts; (ii) payments to receive what the company was otherwise legitimately owed by a foreign government; or (iii) other situations where – for a variety of reasons – there would seem to be a lack of causation between the alleged bribes influencing “foreign official” conduct, that then causes harm to the citizens of the “foreign official’s” country. Indeed, most corporate FCPA enforcement actions involve companies that are otherwise viewed as selling the best product for the best price.  Moreover, as highlighted in this prior post, in one FCPA enforcement action a court found that an alleged bribery scheme benefited a foreign country.

Despite the above observations which I have long held, the failed field test allegations in the Innospec FCPA enforcement action legitimately caused me to ponder victim issues in FCPA enforcement actions.  After all, the DOJ alleged that Iraqi MoO officials were induced to sabotage a field test of a competitor product that resulted in the more harmful product, from a public health standpoint, to stay on the market.

It was a relatively convincing casual connection between an FCPA enforcement action and potential victims.

However, as highlighted above, the U.K. court found the failed field test allegation false and otherwise found deficient other causal links between other alleged conduct and actual business or benefits obtained or retained.

In short, the U.K. action should instruct the proponents of “victim” compensation that hinging a policy proposal on FCPA resolution documents is not always sound or warranted.