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A Look At The French Enforcement Action Against Airbus

airbus

Previous posts here and here looked at the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action against Airbus.

This previous post looked at the U.K. Bribery Act enforcement action against Airbus.

This post completes the enforcement trilogy, bylooking at the French enforcement action against Airbus.

Like the prior U.S. and U.K. bribery enforcement action, the French enforcement action against Airbus (see here for the Judicial Public Interest Agreement) focused on the use of business partners in connection with sales or attempted sales in various countries.

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Facade Of Enforcement Across The Pond

Laughable

A facade of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement is when a business organization – often for reasons of risk aversion and efficiency – agrees to resolve an enforcement action in the absence of any judicial scrutiny even though no employee or agent of the company (business organizations obviously can only act through real human beings) was charged. (See here for the article “The Facade of FCPA Enforcement” and here for the article “Measuring the Impact of NPAs and DPAs on FCPA Enforcement.”)

Even more troubling is when employees are charged, put the government to its burden of proof, are acquitted yet the business organization still resolves an enforcement action based on the same underlying conduct.

This 2014 post, published after the United Kingdom formally adopted deferred prosecution agreements, was titled “The U.K. Enters the Facade Era.” As discussed below, recently there was a major facade moment in the U.K.

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Swedish Company Bribes Foreign Officials, U.S. Collects $1.06 Billion In Record-Setting FCPA Enforcement Action

ericsson

Late last Friday, the DOJ and SEC announced (here and here) a record-setting Foreign Corrupt Practices Act action Swedish telecom company Ericsson (a company with American Depositary Shares traded in the U.S.). The $1.06 billion settlement amount is the largest net FCPA settlement amount in history surpassing the $850 million FCPA enforcement action against Russian telecom company MTS in March 2019 (see here).

The enforcement action concerned conduct in Djibouti, China, Vietnam, Kuwait, Indonesia, and Saudi Arabia.

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DOJ Announces Guilty Pleas By Former Unaoil Executives

unaoil

Yesterday, the DOJ announced that Cyrus Ahsani and Saman Ahsani (the former CEO and Chief Operations Officer of Monaco-based Unaoil) pleaded guilty in March 2019 to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA for their roles in a scheme to corruptly facilitate millions of dollars in bribe payments to officials in multiple countries. The DOJ also announced that Steven Hunter (a former business development manager at Unaoil) pleaded guilty in August 2018 to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA.

Prior Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement actions against Rolls-Royce and SBM Offshore (see here and here) involved, in whole or in part, Unaoil and the Ahsani information refers to approximately 25 other companies including approximately ten U.S. based issuers. Thus, it is likely that additional FCPA enforcement actions involving, in whole or in part, Unaoil will be forthcoming.

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SEC Finds That Former Panasonic Executive Authorized Conduct Causing Company’s FCPA Violations, Another Former Executive Found To Engage In Improper Revenue Recognition Practices

Margis

As highlighted in prior posts (here, here and here) in April 2018 the DOJ and SEC announced a $280 million Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action against Japan-based Panasonic Corp.  and a U.S. subsidiary Panasonic Avionics Corp. (PAC).

In the words of the government “between 2007 and 2013, PAC employees, including senior executives, engaged in a scheme to retain consultants for improper purposes other than for providing actual consulting services.”

Earlier this week, the SEC returned to the same core conduct to bring administrative actions (here and here) against Paul Margis (pictured – a former President and CEO of PAC) and Takeshi Uonaga (PAC’s former CFO). The Margis action finds that he authorized various conduct giving rise to the company’s FCPA liability, whereas the Uonaga matter is materially different in that it is a revenue recognition matter.

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