In arguably one of the most high-profile individual Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement actions in recent years, the DOJ announced yesterday that Low Taek Jho (Jho Low), Ng Chong Hwa (Roger Ng – a former managing director at Goldman Sachs), and Tim Leissner (the former Southeast Asia Chairman at Goldman Sach and Participating Manager Director) were charged with FCPA offenses for paying bribes to various Malaysian and Abu Dhabi officials in connection with 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), Malaysia’s state-owned and state-controlled investment development company. The individuals were also charged with conspiring to launder billions of dollars embezzled from 1MDB.
As highlighted here, in August 2017 (in connection with an undercover sting) the DOJ announced criminal charges against Joseph Baptiste (a retired U.S. Army Colonel, practicing dentist, and former founder/president of a Maryland-based Haitian focused non-profit) “for his alleged role in a foreign bribery and money laundering scheme in connection with a planned $84 million port development project in Haiti” in an area known as Mole Saint Nicolas.
With Baptiste’s trial set to begin in early December, the DOJ returned to the same alleged core conduct by announcing additional criminal charges against Roger Boncy (pictured – 74, a dual U.S. and Haitian citizen who resides in Madrid, Spain).
The end of September is traditionally an active period for Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement as the SEC’s fiscal year comes to a close.
On the heels of yesterday’s Petrobras enforcement action (see here and here for prior posts), the SEC announced a $7.8 million enforcement action against medical device company Stryker for not having internal accounting controls “sufficient to detect the risk of improper payments in sales of Stryker products in India, China, and Kuwait” and because “Stryker’s India subsidiary failed to maintain complete and accurate books and records.”
In doing so, Stryker joins the list of FCPA repeat offenders (see here). As highlighted in this prior post, in 2013 Stryker resolved a $13.2 million enforcement action based on alleged conduct in Mexico, Poland, Romania, Argentina, and Greece.
This morning the DOJ and SEC announced (here and here) that Petrobras, a Brazilian state-owned and state-controlled energy company, entered into agreements with U.S. and Brazilian authorities “in connection with Petrobras’s role in facilitating payments to politicians and political parties in Brazil, as well as a related Brazilian investigation.”
After various credits and deductions for a related law enforcement action in Brazil, the net FCPA settlement is approximately $170 million ($85.3 million DOJ, $85.3 million SEC). Brazil will collect $682.6 million. The remainder of this post provides an in-depth summary of the enforcement action.
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement often seems more robust than it actually is because, in the relatively rare instances in which there is an individual prosecution in connection with a corporate action, the individual action often (but not always) occurs long before or long after the corporate action. Many FCPA Inc. participants, who have a vested interest in portraying more not less FCPA enforcement, count these occurrences as multiple enforcement actions when in reality they are the same core enforcement action. (This article highlights this dynamic as well as other dubious and haphazard FCPA Inc. counting methods).
Reflective of the above dynamic, as highlighted in prior posts here and here in January 2017 the DOJ and SEC announced a $30.5 million enforcement action against Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile S.A. (SQM), a chemical and mining company based in Chile, in relation to its interactions with Chilean officials. The bulk of the enforcement action involved use of the CEO’s “discretionary fund to direct payments to Chilean politicians, political candidates, and individuals connected to them “many of which violated Chilean tax law and/or campaign finance limits” and falsely recording such payments in SQM’s books and records.