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DOJ Quietly Releases Another “Declination With Disgorgement” – This One $4 Million Regarding CDM Smith Inc.

cdmsmith

Those who were predicting that FCPA enforcement would wane in a Trump administration were encouraged to take a deep breath. (See here for the prior post). Among other things, it was noted that “if you believe that FCPA enforcement will decline in a Trump administration then you presumably must think that the DOJ and the SEC will start refusing to “process” corporate voluntary disclosures” (the single largest source of corporate FCPA enforcement actions).

Here is a fact to contemplate. The number of DOJ corporate FCPA enforcement actions in the first five months of the Trump administration (2 – both originating from corporate voluntary disclosures) equals the number of DOJ corporate FCPA enforcement actions in 2015 (2).

Yesterday, the DOJ once again quietly updated its FCPA Pilot Program “declinations” page to release this June 21st letter agreement addressed to Nathaniel Edmonds (Paul Hastings) counsel for CDM Smith Inc. (“CDM Smith”), a privately held engineering and construction firm incorporated and headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts.

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The First Corporate FCPA Enforcement Action In The Trump Era Is A $11.2 Million Declination With Disgorgement And Forfeiture Against Linde For Nearly Decade-Old Conduct Of An Acquired Entity

Linde

Last Friday the DOJ quietly updated its FCPA Pilot Program “declinations” page to include a June 16th letter from the Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office (D.N.J.) to counsel for Linde North America Inc. and Linde Gas North America LLC.

The letter states that “consistent with the FCPA Pilot Program announced on April 5, 2016, the [DOJ is closing its] investigation of [Linde] and certain of their subsidiaries and affiliates concerning violations of the FCPA.”

Pursuant to the letter agreement, Linde agreed to disgorge or forfeit approximately $11.2 million. The Linde enforcement action is the first corporate FCPA enforcement action in the Trump era and is similar to the previous “declinations with disgorgement” enforcement actions released by the Obama DOJ in September 2016. (See here for a prior post).

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From The DOJ’s Docket

DOJ

Lorenzo Plea

This October 2015 post highlighted alleged bribery at the United Nations charging John Ashe (described as having various positions at the U.N. including serving as the Permanent Representative of Antigua to the U.N. and recently serving as the President of the U.N. General Assembly) and others (including Francis Lorenzo, Ng Lap Seng and Jeff Yin) with a variety of criminal offenses based on allegations that payments were made to Ashe in connection with a U.N. sponsored conference center in Macau, China and to influence business interactions with Antiguan government officials.

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A Unique FCPA Enforcement Action Then And Still Unique Now

unique2

[This post is part of a periodic series regarding “old” FCPA enforcement actions]

As highlighted in this prior post, the DOJ used to civilly enforce the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. One of enforcement actions highlighted, indeed the last time the DOJ used this express statutory provision, was a 2001 enforcement action against KPMG Siddharta Siddharta & Harsono and Sonny Harsono.

It was a unique FCPA enforcement action at the time (believed to be the first time the DOJ/SEC had ever brought an FCPA action against a professional services firm – i.e. a law firm or accounting firm) and still remains unique in that the DOJ/SEC are believed to have never again brought an FCPA enforcement action against a professional services firm.

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Why Has The DOJ Stopped Civilly Enforcing The FCPA?

questions to ask

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act specifically authorizes the DOJ to civilly (not just criminally) enforce the statute against non-issuers.

Indeed, between 1991 and 2001 approximately 35% of all DOJ corporate FCPA enforcement actions were civil actions. However, the last time the DOJ invoked this express statutory remedy was in 2001 and the question is posed: why has the DOJ stopped civilly enforcing the FCPA?

Make sure to read to the end of the post to hear the DOJ’s non-responsive answer to this question.

Perhaps instead of creating new ways to enforce the FCPA not even mentioned in the statute (such as non-prosecution agreements, deferred prosecution agreements and most recently declinations with disgorgements) the DOJ should go back to enforcing the FCPA in ways expressly authorized by Congress.

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