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Securency International Probe Heats Up

According to this U.K. Serious Fraud Office (SFO) release, “a coordinated search and arrest operation” involving U.K., Spanish, and Australian authorities focused on Securency International PTY Ltd. has taken place. According to the release, the action involves the “activities of employees and agents of Securency International and their alleged corrupt role in securing international polymer banknote contracts.”

Securency International (here) is a joint venture between the Reserve Bank of Australia, the country’s central bank, and Innovia Films (here), a Cumbria, England-based company that makes cellulose films for packaging and labels.

According to this article in the Sydney Morning Herald the “Reserve Bank is reeling after Federal Police and overseas law-enforcement agencies staged co-ordinated global raids yesterday to uncover evidence of corruption and bribery involving the bank note firm Securency.” Bribery is suspected to have occurred in several countries, including Vietnam, Nigeria, Malaysia and Indonesia. As the article notes, if criminal charges are filed, it would be Australia’s first foreign bribery prosecution.

The above linked Sydney Morning Herald article also has an informative five minute audio clip about the raid and the allegations against Securency International.

Will the U.S. get involved?

That depends if there is even jurisdiction.

Neither Securency or Innovia appear to be an “issuer” or “domestic concern.” But there is still the 78dd-3 prong of the FCPA which applies to “any person” (corporate or individual) that generally performs any act in furtherance of an improper payment scheme while in the territory of the U.S. Like most FCPA issues, the DOJ takes an expansive view of this jurisdictional element and prior enforcement actions have been based on use of the U.S. bank accounts, U.S. dollar-denominated financial transactions, and use of the U.S. mail and wires (such as e-mail) in connection with the improper payment scheme.

For more on expansive FCPA jurisdiction over non-U.S. companies, see this July 2010 Shearman & Sterling publication.

A Trip Around the World

Grab your bags and your passport, it’s time for a quick trip around the world.

First stop, Germany.

Siemens

In December 2008, Siemens (a global corporation organized under the laws of Germany with shares listed on the New York Stock Exchange since March 2001) agreed to pay $800 million in combined fines and penalties to settle FCPA charges for a pattern of bribery the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) termed “unprecedented in scale and geographic scope.” The combined fines and penalties were easily the largest ever levied against an FCPA violator.

This week, Siemens announced (see here) that it “has come to an agreement about settlements with six further former Board members against whom damages were claimed in connection with past cases of corruption in the company.” See (here) for press coverage.

Next stop, the U.K.

SFO Charges Former DePuy Executive

The U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office (“SFO”) (an enforcement agency similar to the U.S. DOJ), recently announced (see here) that Robert John Dougall, the former Vice President of Market Development of DePuy International Limited was charged with conspiracy for “making corrupt payments and/or giving other inducements to medical professionals working in the Greek public healthcare system.” The SFO has previously indicated (see here) that it seeks to generally model DOJ’s enforcement strategies, and that model now seems to include a broad interpretation of the potential universe of recipients of improper payments (i.e. not just core government officials, but also employees of public healthcare systems). There is greater cooperation between law enforcement agencies around the world in investigating cases of alleged improper payments, a fact highlighted by the SFO release which notes that the case “was referred to the [SFO] by the [DOJ] and accepted in March 2008.” Depuy (see here) is “part of the Johnson & Johnson family of companies.” In February 2007, Johnson & Johnson disclosed a potential FCPA issue and the company’s most recent announcement on the issue is in its November 2009 10-K filing (see here).

Next stop, Australia.

Money to Print Money

The Age of Melbourne has reported (see here) that Securency International (see here) and certain of its executives are being investigated by the Australian Federal Police for alleged breaches of Australia’s criminal code which prohibit payments to foreign government officials to obtain a business advantage. According to the article, Securency (according to its website – a world leader in secure polymer substrate technology and the supplier of a range of unique substrates which are used for the printing of banknotes and other security documents), is also under scrutiny in the U.K., Vietnam, and Nigeria. The article notes that the Securency matter could be Australia’s first prosecution for foreign bribery.

Final stop, the beaches of the Bahamas.

Kozeny Extradition Hearing

While Frederic Bourke (see here) prepares his appeal, Viktor Kozeny, the alleged master-mind of the bribery scheme, continues to enjoy life in the Bahamas as U.S. government attempts at extradition have thus far failed. This week, the U.S. government’s appeal hearing was heard in the Bahamas. See here for press coverage.

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