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The Case That Keeps On Giving – DOJ Announces Additional Charges In PDVSA Bribery Action

PDVSA

Several prior posts (see here and here for instance) have highlighted the clustering phenomenon and how a few discreet instances of alleged bribery yield an inordinate amount of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement activity.

One such example is the DOJ’s long-standing enforcement action (charges were first brought in late 2015) in connection with alleged corrupt schemes to secure contracts from Venezuela’s state-owned and state-controlled energy company, PDVSA.

Yesterday, the DOJ announced that additional criminal charges were unsealed “against five former Venezuelan government officials for their alleged participation in an international money laundering scheme involving bribes made to corruptly secure energy contracts from Venezuela’s state-owned and state-controlled energy company, PDVSA.”

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Is This Appropriate?

846-05647896
© ClassicStock / Masterfile
Model Release: Yes
Property Release: No
1960s MAN THINKING HAND PENCIL ON CHIN WEARING EYEGLASSES SERIOUS EXPRESSION

Gibson Dunn is generally viewed as having a top tier Foreign Corrupt Practices Act practice.

The firm’s Year-End FCPA Update is always a quality read including this year’s version.

Yet, highlighted below is a paragraph from the Update that caught my eye and I ask: seriously – is this appropriate?

Early in the 36-page document is the following paragraph:

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Issues To Consider From The SBM Offshore Enforcement Action

Issues

This previous post went in-depth into the $238 million DOJ Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action against Netherlands-based SBM Offshore for alleged bribery schemes in Brazil, Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Kazakhstan and Iraq.

This post continues the analysis by highlighting additional issues to consider.

DOJ Explains Its Original “Declination”

As highlighted in the original post, in 2014 SBM Offshore resolved a $240 million Dutch law enforcement action alleging bribery schemes in Equatorial Guinea, Angola and Brazil between 2007 through 2011. In connection with that action, SBM Offshore disclosed: “the United States Department of Justice has informed SBM Offshore that it is not prosecuting the Company and has closed its inquiry into the matter.”

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SBM Offshore Resolves $238 Million FCPA Enforcement Action

sbm

As highlighted in this prior post, in 2014 Netherlands-based SBM Offshore resolved a $240 million Dutch law enforcement action alleging improper payments to sales agents and foreign government officials in Equatorial Guinea, Angola and Brazil between 2007 through 2011. In connection with this action, the company disclosed: ““the United States Department of Justice has informed SBM Offshore that it is not prosecuting the Company and has closed its inquiry into the matter.”

Fast forward to earlier this month when, as highlighted in this prior post, the DOJ announced resolution of criminal charges against former SBM Offshore executive Anthony Mace and Robert Zubiate for their roles in a scheme to bribe foreign government officials in Brazil, Angola and Equatorial Guinea.

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DOJ Charges Two Individuals With FCPA And Other Violations In Connection With An African Bribery Scheme On Behalf Of CEFC China Energy Company Ltd.

ChinaEnergy

Yesterday, the DOJ announced that Chi Ping Patrick Ho (of Hong Kong, China) and Cheikh Gadio (of Senegal) were criminally charged with conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, violating the FCPA, conspiring to commit international money laundering, and committing international money laundering.

Although not specifically mentioned in the DOJ’s indictment, it is easy to connect the dots that Ho is associated with China Energy Fund Committee (CEFC) and as noted here, CEFC is “fully funded by CEFC China Energy Company Limited.” Gadio is associated with Sarata Holding (a consulting and advising firm specializing in business and development partnerships with Africa).

Big picture – in the past two weeks – the DOJ has announced three core FCPA enforcement actions involving 9 individuals. (See here for the November 7th action against 5 individuals associated with Rolls-Royce and here for the November 9th action against 2 individuals associated with SBM Offshore).

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