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Might Sinovac Become The First Chinese Issuer To Resolve An FCPA Enforcement Action?

sinovac

A long, long time ago (September 2009 to be exact) FCPA Professor highlighted how Chinese companies were increasingly seeking to raise capital in the U.S. and by registering securities in the U.S. becoming subject to a variety of U.S. laws including the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

There has never been an FCPA enforcement against a Chinese-based issuer, but that could change.

This post highlights the FCPA scrutiny of Beijing-based Sinovac Biotech, a company with shares traded on NASDAQ, including its recent disclosure that it is unable to file its annual report because of a bribery internal investigation.

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FCPA Enforcement Actions Against Foreign Companies From OECD Convention Peer Countries

Globe

2016 was a record-breaking year for Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement, both in terms of the number of core corporate actions resolved as well as overall settlement amounts.

As highlighted in this post, much of the largeness of 2016 FCPA enforcement resulted from corporate enforcement actions against foreign companies. (For purposes of this post, a foreign company means the “residence” of the corporate parent company and not for instance, Analogic’s foreign subsidiary or JPMorgan’s foreign subsidiary being offered up to resolve the DOJ prong of the corporate enforcement action). 

Specifically, of the 27 corporate enforcement actions from 2016, 11 (41%) were against foreign companies (based in many instances on mere listing of securities on U.S. markets and in a few instances on sparse allegations of a U.S. nexus in furtherance of an alleged bribery scheme). Even more dramatic, of the net $2.27 billion settlement amounts from 2016 corporate enforcement actions, approximately $1.44 billion (63%) resulted from enforcement actions against foreign companies.

Given that all of the foreign companies that resolved 2016 FCPA enforcement actions were from peer OECD Convention countries, the question should be asked whether these FCPA enforcement actions represented a proper use of the FCPA – at least from a policy standpoint.

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No U.S. Nexus, No Problem As U.S. Brings $30.5 Million FCPA Enforcement Action Against Chilean Company In Relation To Its Conduct With Chilean Officials

SQM

Last week the DOJ and SEC announced (here and here) a $30.5 million Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action against Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile S.A. (SQM), a chemical and mining company based in Chile, in relation to its conduct with Chilean officials.

The enforcement action is rife with policy issues including the proper scope of FCPA enforcement given that there is no U.S. nexus alleged other than SQM having Series B shares, a form of American Depository Shares, listed on the New York Stock Exchange and thus being required to file periodic reports with the SEC.

The enforcement action included: (i) a DOJ criminal information charging SQM with violating the FCPA’s books and records and internal control provisions that was resolved via a deferred prosecution agreement in which the company agreed to pay a $15.5 million criminal penalty; and (ii) an SEC administrative order finding FCPA books and records and internal violations in which the company agreed to pay $15 million civil penalty.

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Why The Odebrecht / Braskem FCPA Enforcement Action Is Unique (And Interesting)

Unique

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action last week against Odebrecht / Braskem was unique – specifically the DOJ’s and SEC’s bribery charges against the companies relating to conduct with alleged Brazilian “foreign officials.”

What makes it unique is that it is believed to be the first FCPA enforcement action in history against a foreign issuer for allegedly bribing its own domestic officials. In other words, a large portion of the U.S. enforcement action against the Brazilian companies is that they bribed Brazilian officials.

All previous FCPA enforcement actions against foreign issuers have not addressed this dynamic. In other words, German companies Siemens and Daimler did not bribe German officials; French companies Alstom, Total and Technip did not bribe French officials; Japanese company JGC did not bribe Japanese officials, etc., etc.

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In Depth Into The $519 Million Teva FCPA Enforcement Action

Copaxone

Records continue to be set as 2016 Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement enters its final days.

Yesterday, the DOJ and SEC announced (here and here) a $519 million enforcement action against Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (an Israeli company with American Depository Receipts traded in the U.S.) and a related entity. The settlement amount included a $283 million DOJ component and a related $236 million SEC component.

The action is believed to be the first-ever FCPA enforcement action against an Israeli company and by far the largest-ever FCPA enforcement action against a pharmaceutical company. (The $70 million 2011 enforcement action against Johnson & Johnson is second on that list). You better go ahead and update your top ten list again because the Teva enforcement action is the 4th largest of all-time. (Odebrecht / Braskem held that spot for less than 24 hours and is now bumped to 5th largest FCPA settlement amount of all-time).

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