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In Post-Trial Motions, Baptiste Seeks Judgment Of Acquittal Or New Trial Based On Ineffective Assistance Of Counsel

Baptiste

As highlighted in this previous post, in 2017 (in connection with an undercover string) the DOJ unsealed criminal charges against Joseph Baptiste (a retired U.S. Army Colonel, practicing dentist, and founder / president of a Maryland-based Haitian focused non-profit) for alleged Haitian bribery.

In the original charging document, it was noted as follows:

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Second Circuit Affirms Seng’s Conviction

Seng2

Previous posts here, here and here highlighted Ng Lap Seng’s Second Circuit appeal after a federal jury convicted him in July 2017 of two counts of violating the FCPA, one count of paying bribes and gratuities, one count of money laundering and two counts of conspiracy “for his role in a scheme to bribe United Nations ambassadors to obtain support to build a conference center in Macau that would host, among other events, the annual United Nations Global South-South Development Expo.”

Recently, in this decision the Second Circuit affirmed Seng’s conviction. As stated in the opinion, the issues on appeal were: (i) whether the United Nations is an “organization” within the meaning of 18 U.S.C. 666; (ii) whether the jury was correctly instructed as to controlling law, particularly as pertains to bribery in light of McDonnell v. United States (see here for the prior post concerning the Supreme Court’s 2016 decision construing 18 USC 201 – the domestic bribery statute – particularly the meaning of “official act”; and (iii) whether the evidence was insufficient to support a guilty plea.

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Canadian Court Finds That Bribery Is A Specific Intent Offense And That Government Failed To Prove That Defendant Knew That Bribe Recipient Was A “Foreign Public Official”

Judicial Decision

This 2014 post highlighted Canadian charges against Robert Barra and Shailesh Govindia (individuals previously associated with Cryptometrics) for bribing Indian officials including those associated with Air India.

As highlighted in the below post, a Canadian court recently concluded that violations under Canada’s FCPA-like law – the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act (CFPOA) – are a specific intent offense and that Barra did not know the individual he allegedly bribed was a “foreign public official.”

As further highlighted below, the Canadian court’s specific intent ruling conflicts with certain FCPA jurisprudence while the Canadian court’s ruling regarding knowledge of the status of a “foreign public official” ruling is consistent with certain U.S. jurisprudence – namely U.S. v. Carson – in which the court issued a “knowledge of status of foreign official” jury instruction prior to trial. (See here).

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Next Up For The Second Circuit – An Opportunity To Construe The FCPA’s Corrupt Intent And Obtain And Retain Business Elements

Judicial Decision

Fresh off its recent decision in U.S. v. Hoskins (see here and here for prior posts), the Second Circuit has another Foreign Corrupt Practices Act appeal on its docket.

This July post previewed the FCPA (and related) appeal of Ng Lap Seng who was convicted of two counts of violating the FCPA, one count of paying bribes and gratuities, one count of money laundering and two counts of conspiracy “for his role in a scheme to bribe United Nations ambassadors to obtain support to build a conference center in Macau that would host, among other events, the annual United Nations Global South-South Development Expo.”

Recently Seng formally filed this appellate brief. The FCPA issues on appeal concern the corrupt intent element and the obtain or retain business element. There is an abundance of information in the legislative history regarding these topics, the open question is whether Seng’s lawyers will fully take advantage of it.

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Case Law Of Note

Judicial Decision

Judicial opinions construing the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act are rare. Thus, when they occur (even if only a trial court opinion on a pre-trial motion to dismiss) FCPA judicial opinions are worthy of note.

As highlighted in this prior post, in January 2015 the DOJ criminally charged Dmitrij Harder, the former owner and President of Chestnut Consulting Group Inc. and Chestnut Consulting Group Co., for allegedly bribing an official with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (“EBRD”).

The enforcement action was notable in that it invoked the rarely used “public international organization” prong of the FCPA’s “foreign official” element.

As highlighted here, in October 2015, Harder filed this motion to dismiss:  In summary fashion it stated:

“The Indictment fails to accurately allege the elements of a violation under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) – it is devoid of any allegations that Mr. Harder paid an allegedly corrupt payment to a “foreign official,” fails to state required allegations when an allegedly corrupt payment is made to a third party, and impermissibly substitutes “public international organization” in the charging language against Mr. Harder. The FCPA counts should also be dismissed because the provision permitting the President to expand the term “foreign official” by identifying “public international organizations” as authorized by 15 U.S.C. § 78dd-2(h)(2)(B) is unconstitutional.”

In an unsurprising development given the procedural posture of the motion, last week Judge Paul Diamond (E.D. Pa.) denied the motion. It is believed to be the first judicial decision in FCPA history construing the rarely implicated “public international organization” prong of the FCPA’s “foreign official” definition.

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