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Issues To Consider From The Las Vegas Sands Enforcement Action

Issues

This recent post went in-depth into the recent $9 million Foreign Corrupt Practices Act books and records and internal controls enforcement action against Las Vegas Sands (LVS).

This post continues the analysis by highlighting various issues to consider.

Is Your Company In Violation of the Books and Records and Internal Controls Provisions?

LVS is not a “normal” company in that its Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson (or his family) own a majority of company shares.

Moreover, Adelson is very active in his support of Republican candidates and causes, an issue that has been well-documented. (See here for instance). As a result, some have suggested that LVS was targeted by the Democratic administration.

I have no insight or opinion about this.

But I will say the following.

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Issues To Consider From The Nordion (Canada Inc.) Enforcement Action

Issues

This previous post went in-depth on the recent Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action against Nordion (Canada, Inc.).

This post continues the analysis by highlighting various issues to consider.

A future post will explore how the seemingly minor enforcement action (the settlement amount was a mere $375,000) should leave anyone who cares about FCPA enforcement speechless. An additional future post will pose the question of why did Nordion voluntarily disclose while also highlighting that its FCPA scrutiny cost the company in excess of $20 million in pre-enforcement action professional fees and expenses (a shocking 50:1 ratio compared to the settlement amount).

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Issues To Consider From The Olympus Enforcement Action

Issues

This prior post went in-depth into the recent $22.8 million Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action against Olympus Latin American Inc.

This post continues the analysis by highlighting various issues to consider.

20th Enforcement Action

Certain people seem to be confused about the reasons why Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement has generally increased over the past decade.

However, there are several practical (as well as provocative) reasons.

Among the more obvious practical reasons (no doubt it is provocative as well) is that in 2002 the FCPA enforcement agencies came up with the theory that employees (such as physicians, nurses, mid-wives, lab personnel, etc.) of certain foreign health care systems are “foreign officials” under the FCPA and thus occupy a status equal to Presidents, Prime Ministers, and other bona-fide foreign officials that Congress had in mind when passing the FCPA in 1977.

It is one of the more aggressive and dubious FCPA enforcement theories there is.  It has never been subjected to judicial scrutiny and perhaps most telling as to its validity and legitimacy, the DOJ has never charged an individual with an FCPA violation based on this theory.

Nevertheless, the theory is frequently used in FCPA enforcement actions and the Olympus enforcement action represents the 20th time it has been used in a corporate enforcement action.

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Issues To Consider From The Qualcomm Enforcement Action

Issues

This prior post went in-depth as to the recent $7.5 million Qualcomm Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action based on alleged improper hiring and other practices in China.

This post continues the analysis by highlighting various issues to consider.

Timeline

Qualcomm’s FCPA scrutiny was, at least partially, related to September 2010 formal order of private investigation from the SEC that arose from a “whistleblower’s” allegations made in December 2009 to the audit committee of the Company’s  Board of Directors and to the SEC. As Qualcomm previously disclosed, “the audit committee completed an internal review of the allegations with the assistance of independent counsel and independent forensic accountants. This internal review into the whistleblower’s allegations and related accounting practices did not identify any errors in the Company’s financial statements.”

More directly related to the FCPA scrutiny, according to Qualcomm’s previous disclosures: “On January 27, 2012, the Company learned that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California/DOJ has begun a preliminary investigation regarding the Company’s compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), a topic about which the SEC is also inquiring.”

Thus, from start to finish Qualcomm’s FCPA scrutiny lasted between 4-6 years (depending on one’s interpretation of the above disclosures).

If the SEC wants the public to have confidence in its FCPA enforcement program, it must resolve instances of FCPA scrutiny much quicker. Whether its nearly 6 years or merely 4 years, this long time period is simply inexcusable.

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FCPA Flash – A Conversation With Paul Pelletier

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The new FCPA Professor contains a new feature – the FCPA Flash podcast.

The goal of FCPA Flash is to provide, in an audio format, the same fresh, candid and informed commentary about the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and related topics as readers have come to expect from the written posts on FCPA Professor.

This FCPA Flash episode is a conversation with  Paul Pellletier, a former Principal Deputy Chief of the DOJ’s fraud section and currently a member of Mintz Levin. Pelletier has written some excellent recent pieces on the DOJ’s FCPA enforcement program (see here and here) and in the podcast he discusses the long time periods often associated with FCPA inquiries, FCPA investigative costs, and how the DOJ can best allocate its resources to fight bribery.

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