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South Korean Company Bribes Brazilian Officials Through Brazilian Agents, U.S. Collects $37.7 Million

SamsungHeavy

Last Friday, the Department of Justice announced that Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI – a South Korea-based engineering company that provides shipbuilding, offshore platform construction, and other construction and engineering services with a branch office in Houston) agreed to resolve a net $37.5 million Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action.

As highlighted below, the conduct at issue involved SHI’s relationship with Pride International (which is now part of Valaris plc) through which it sold a $636 million drillship to Petrobras.

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DOJ Criminally Charges Former Braskem CEO Jose Grubisich In Connection With The Same Core Conduct Alleged In The 2016 Corporate Enforcement Action

grubisich

As highlighted in this prior post, in late 2016 the DOJ and SEC brought a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action against Odebrecht S.A. (a Brazilian holding company) and Braskem S.A. (a Brazil-based petrochemical company with shares traded on the NYSE in which Odebrecht owned a majority of voting shares).

The conduct at issue was egregious and largely centered on a business unit, the Division of Structured Operations, housed within an Odebrecht subsidiary that allegedly served as little more than a bribe-paying department for the benefit of Odebrecht and Braskem. According to the resolution documents, former senior executives authorized approximately $788 million in bribes, largely through the Division of Structured Operations, to alleged foreign officials in at least twelve countries. While the principal focus of the DOJ’s action (and the exclusive focus of the SEC action) concerned conduct in Brazil including the companies relationships with Petrobras, the DOJ action also alleges improper payments in Angola, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Mozambique, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela.

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Former Herbalife China Executives Criminally Charged By DOJ, SEC Also Charges Former Executive

herbalife

In 2014, Avon resolved a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement based in large part on obtaining a direct selling permit in China. (See here for the prior post).

In 2016, Nu Skin Enterprises resolved an FCPA enforcement action based in large part on obtaining a direct selling permit in China. (See here for the prior post).

In 2017, Herbalife disclosed that it was under FCPA scrutiny concerning its conduct in China. With the company’s scrutiny still pending, yesterday the DOJ announced that Yanliang Li (a citizen of China and former Managing Director of a Chinese division of Herbalife) and Hongwei Yang (a citizen of China and former head the External Affairs Department of a Chinese division of Herbalife) were criminally charged “for their roles in a scheme to violate the anti-bribery and the internal controls provisions of the FCPA.” Not surprisingly, the alleged conduct focused on obtaining a direct selling permit.

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DOJ Announces Guilty Pleas By Former Unaoil Executives

unaoil

Yesterday, the DOJ announced that Cyrus Ahsani and Saman Ahsani (the former CEO and Chief Operations Officer of Monaco-based Unaoil) pleaded guilty in March 2019 to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA for their roles in a scheme to corruptly facilitate millions of dollars in bribe payments to officials in multiple countries. The DOJ also announced that Steven Hunter (a former business development manager at Unaoil) pleaded guilty in August 2018 to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA.

Prior Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement actions against Rolls-Royce and SBM Offshore (see here and here) involved, in whole or in part, Unaoil and the Ahsani information refers to approximately 25 other companies including approximately ten U.S. based issuers. Thus, it is likely that additional FCPA enforcement actions involving, in whole or in part, Unaoil will be forthcoming.

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Westport Fuel Systems Resolves $4 Million FCPA Enforcement Action Based On Transfer Of Shares To A Private Equity Fund In Which A Chinese Official Held An Interest – Former CEO Also Resolves Action

Westport

In the third corporate Foreign Corrupt Practices Act is less than 24 hours, the SEC announced this afternoon that Westport Fuel Systems (a Canadian company with shares traded on NASDAQ) agreed to pay approximately $4 million for “paying bribes to a foreign government official in China.”

In addition, in connection with the same core conduct, Nancy Gougarty (a U.S. citizen who previously served as Chief Operating Officer and from mid-2016 until early 2019 as the CEO and member of the board of directors) agreed to pay a $120,000 civil penalty.

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