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An FCPA Enforcement Action Involving A U.S. Government Aid Program (With A Few Ironies)

CAAEF

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

Yesterday’s post highlighted a number of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement actions in connection with U.S. government aid or assistance programs.

This post goes into more detail regarding the DOJ’s 2002 FCPA enforcement action against Richard Pitchford (the Vice President and Country Manager in Turkmenistan for the Central Asia American Enterprise Fund (CAAEF), an entity wholly funded by a $150 million appropriation from Congress pursuant to the Support for Eastern European Democracy Act of 1989 and the Freedom for Russia and Emerging Eurasian Democracies and Open Market Support Act of 1992).

One of the ironies with this enforcement action (there is another highlighted at the end of the post) is that prior to the enforcement action Pitchford was quoted as saying: “The potential in Central Asia is tremendous, especially in Turkmenistan because of its proximity to Turkey and the Persian Gulf. What’s missing is government political will to do the job. There’s no doubt this is a dictatorship and from top to bottom, it’s corrupt.” A short time later, Pitchford himself would be prosecuted for corruption.

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Bribery Involving World Bank Officials

world bank

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

As noted in this post, one interesting aspect of the recently announced Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action against Joseph Baptiste is he previously entered into a plea agreement but does not intended to honor the plea agreement.

As highlighted below, the FCPA enforcement action against Ramendra Basu (a former World Bank official) for, among other things, alleged bribery in Kenya involved a similar dynamic and this post summarizes the enforcement action as well as a related enforcement action against Gautam Sengupta (a former World Bank Task Manager).

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You Don’t Need To Look Far For The Location Resulting In Several Individual FCPA Enforcement Actions

Haiti2

This prior post highlighted the DOJ’s recently announced Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action against Joseph Baptiste for alleged bribery in Haiti.

The Baptiste enforcement action is just the latest in a long list of FCPA enforcement actions (all of the criminal actions were against individuals associated with small, privately-held companies) alleging improper business conduct in Haiti (a country located a short distance from the U.S.).

What makes this unusual is that Haiti attracts (relatively speaking compared to many other countries) little business activity by those subject to the FCPA. But then again, perhaps one of the reasons for this lack of business activity is the FCPA itself. As highlighted in this 2010 post, some called for the FCPA not to apply to doing business in Haiti arguing: “one of the best way to help Haiti” is to “pass a law stating that the FCPA does not apply to dealings in Haiti. As it stands right now, U.S. businesses are unwilling to take on this legal risk and the result is similar to an embargo. You can’t do business in Haiti without paying bribes.”

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In Connection With Undercover Sting, DOJ Unseals Criminal Charges Against Joseph Baptiste For Alleged Haitian Bribery

Baptiste

Yesterday, the DOJ announced that Joseph Baptiste (pictured – a retired U.S. Army Colonel, practicing dentist, and former founder/president of a Maryland-based Haitian focused non-profit) was criminally charged “for his alleged role in a foreign bribery and money laundering scheme in connection with a planned $84 million port development project in Haiti.”

According to this FBI Agent affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, during the time period relevant to the complaint Baptiste served as the president of an entity headquartered in Maryland that purported to be a non-profit organization with the stated mission of helping the impoverished in Haiti” and further served as a member of the board of directors of Company A, an LLC organized under Delaware Law. According to the affidavit, Company A’s mission was to promote a port development project in an area of Haiti known as Moles Saint Nicolas.

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For The First Time In Six Years, The DOJ Prevails In A Contested FCPA Proceeding When Put To Its Ultimate Burden Of Proof

Justice Dept

Last week, for the first time in six years, the DOJ prevailed in a contest FCPA proceeding when put to its burden of proof.

As highlighted in this DOJ release, after a four week trial a federal jury convicted Ng Lap Seng of two counts of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, 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.”

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