This is the second time I have written about this issue (see here for the first). This time, the examples are more numerous and more significant.
The DOJ has stated (here) that its FCPA website (here) includes documents related to more than 140 FCPA prosecutions including “charging documents, plea agreements, deferred prosecution and non-prosecution agreements, press releases,and relevant pleadings and orders.” To be sure, the DOJ has a nice (and much improved upon) FCPA website. However, as demonstrated below, if one’s objective is to be informed of all FCPA developments (not just those that cast the DOJ in a favorable light), there are a number of websites, this one included, that highlight such developments, but the DOJ’s website is not one of them.
In January 2010, the DOJ issued this release announcing the Africa Sting charges and it also held a press conference to discuss the charges. In July 2011, Judge Richard Leon declared a mistrial in the first Africa Sting case (see here for the prior post). However, there was no DOJ press release announcing this development and if your only source of information was the DOJ’s FCPA website you would not know that this development occured because there is no mention of it.
In 2007 Si Chan Wooh, an employee of SSI International, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Schnitzer Steel, was criminally charged (see here). The DOJ issued a release (here) anouncing the charges and related guilty plea. However last year, as reported in this Wall Street Journal Corruption Currents story, “the Justice Department informed Wooh’s counsel that a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent assigned to the investigation of Schnitzer and its employees had written a letter to high-ranking prosecutor in Washington saying Wooh should not have been charged in connection with the case.” In October 2011, in this filing the DOJ moved to dismiss the case “out of prosecutorial discretion in the interests of justice and the efficient use of government resources.” There was no DOJ press release announcing this development and if your only source of information was the DOJ’s website you would not know that this development occured because there is no mention of it.
In May 2011, the DOJ issued this same day release when Lindsey Manufacturing and its executives Keith Lindsey and Steve Lee were found guilty of FCPA offenses after a jury trial. However, in November 2011, Judge Howard Matz vacated the FCPA convictions of Lindsey Manufacturing and its executives and dismissed the indictment (see here for the prior post). Again nothing from the DOJ, no press release, and no mention of this development on its website.
In December 2011, during the second Africa Sting case, Judge Richard Leon, at the close of the DOJ’s case, dismissed a conspiracy charge as to all defendants (see here for the prior post). Because this was the only charge Stephen Giordanella faced, he was exonerated. However, if your only source of FCPA knowledge was the DOJ’s website, you would not know this because there is nothing there as to this development.
In November 2009, the DOJ issued this release when John Jospeh O’Shea was arrested and charged with FCPA and related offenses. However, on January 16th, Judge Lynn Hughes, after the DOJ’s case, dismissed the FCPA charges against O’Shea (see here for the prior post). However, if your only source of FCPA knowledge was the DOJ’s website, you would not know this because the DOJ did not issue a release and there is nothing on its website regarding this development. [Someone was staffing the DOJ press office at this time because approximately 18 hours later, the DOJ announced (here) a $55 million FCPA enforcement action against Marubeni Corporation of Japan.]
Returning to the second Africa Sting trial, earlier this week, Patrick Caldwell and John Godsey were found not guilty by the jury (see here for the prior post). The next day, Judge Leon declared a mistrial as the remaining defendants – John Mushriqui, Jeana Mushriqui and Marc Morales (see here for the prior post). Again, nothing from the DOJ as to these developments.
President Obama has championed transparency and open government. In this release, President Obama stated as follows. “Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing. Information maintained by the Federal Government is a national asset. My Administration will take appropriate action, consistent with law and policy, to disclose information rapidly in forms that the public can readily find and use.”
Consistent with President Obama’s directive, the DOJ’s website ought to be improved and ought to keep citizens informed of all FCPA developments – not just those that cast the DOJ in a favorable light.