This week its a Dutch company and its former Italian parent company that admitted to bribing Nigerian foreign officials with the end result being an additional $365 million paid into the United States treasury.
As indicated in this DOJ release: “Snamprogetti Netherlands B.V., (Snamprogetti) has agreed to pay a $240 million criminal penalty to resolve charges related to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) for its participation in a decade-long scheme to bribe Nigerian government officials to obtain engineering, procurement and construction contracts” to build liquefied natural gas facilities on Bonny Island, Nigeria.”
According to the release, the DOJ “filed a deferred prosecution agreement [DPA] and a criminal information today against Snamprogetti [a Dutch corporation headquartered in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, which was a wholly owned subsidiary of Snamprogetti S.p.A., an Italian company headquartered in Milan, Italy] charging Snamprogetti with one count of conspiracy and one count of aiding and abetting violations of the FCPA.” The release further states that pursuant to the two-year DPA “Snamprogetti, its current parent company, Saipem S.p.A., and its former parent company, ENI S.p.A. (ENI), agreed to ensure that their compliance programs satisfied certain standards and to cooperate with the department in ongoing investigations.”
In addition, the release notes that:
“Today, Snamprogetti and ENI also reached a settlement of a related civil complaint filed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), charging Snamprogetti with violating the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions, falsifying books and records, and circumventing internal controls and charging ENI with violating the FCPA’s books and records and internal controls provisions. As part of that settlement, Snamprogetti and ENI agreed jointly to pay $125 million in disgorgement of profits relating to those violations.”
Stay tuned for analysis of the DOJ deferred prosecution agreement, criminal information, and SEC complaint.
In the meantime, some questions to ponder.
For those scoring at home, the current U.S. treasury deposit slip, because a joint venture largely comprised of foreign companies bribed Nigerian officials, stands at $1.28 billion given the related February 2009 enforcement action against Kellogg Brown & Root entities as well as Halliburton Company – an enforcement action that was settled for $579 million in combined fines and penalties.
Bribery and corruption, the conventional wisdom goes, is not a victimless crime. Accordingly, the Bonny Island bribery scheme resulted in victims. Surely those victims were not U.S. taxpayers, but the U.S. Treasury is where the entire $1.28 billion has gone.
The Bonny Island bribery scheme, which now stands as the largest collective FCPA enforcement action in history, begs the question – where should the fines and penalties resulting from an FCPA enforcement action go? Solely to U.S. taxpayers? To the “victims” of the alleged crime? If to the “victims” who are the “victims” and how best does one get the money to the “victims?” Are the enforcement agencies willing to sacrifice portions of their current FCPA cash cow? (see here for more).