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Issues To Consider From The Och-Ziff Enforcement Action

Issues

Previous posts here and here went in-depth into the recent Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action against Och-Ziff, Daniel Och and Joel Frank.

This post continues the analysis by highlighting additional issues to consider. As highlighted below, embedded in the approximately 175 pages of resolution documents were several notable issues.

Time Line

According to Och-Ziff’s prior disclosures “beginning in 2011, and from time to time thereafter, we have received subpoenas from the SEC and requests for information from the U.S. Department of Justice (the “DOJ”) in connection with an investigation involving the FCPA and related laws.”

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Issues To Consider From The AB InBev Enforcement Action

Issues

This previous post went in-depth into the SEC’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action against AB InBev.

This post continues the analysis by highlighting additional issues to consider from the enforcement action.

Timeline

Per the SEC’s order, the SEC began its inquiry in October 2011.

Thus from start to finish, AB InBev’s FCPA scrutiny lasted just shy of five years.

It is absolutely inexcusable on any level for FCPA scrutiny to last five years. If the SEC wants the public to view its FCPA enforcement program as legitimate, credible, and effective, it must resolve instances of FCPA scrutiny much faster.

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In Depth Into The Och-Ziff FCPA Enforcement Action

och ziff

Last week, the DOJ and SEC announced (here and here) a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action against Och-Ziff Capital Management Group (and a related entity) for improper business practices in various African countries. The aggregate settlement amount was $412 million (a $213 million DOJ criminal penalty and a $199 million SEC resolution consisting of disgorgement and prejudgment interest), the 4th largest FCPA settlement amount of all-time.

As highlighted in this previous post, the SEC also found Daniel Och (CEO) and Joel Frank (CFO) culpable for certain of the improper conduct. As indicated in the post, this represents what is believed to be the first time in FCPA history that the SEC also found the current CEO and CFO of the issuer company liable, to some extent, for company FCPA violations. Moreover, the $2.2 million Och agreed to pay, without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings, is the largest settlement amount in FCPA history by an individual in an SEC action.

Whether the Och-Ziff enforcement action is the “first time a hedge fund has been held to account for violating the FCPA” (as the DOJ stated in its release) is a debatable point. (See here for the 2007 FCPA enforcement action on the DOJ’s FCPA website against hedge fund Omega Advisors).

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Issues To Consider From The Nu Skin Enforcement Action

Issues

This previous post highlighted the SEC’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action against Nu Skin Enterprises.

This post continues the analysis by highlighting additional issues to consider from last week’s enforcement action.

Similar, Yet Different

Before the Nu Skin action, there have been several FCPA enforcement actions that have included, in whole or in part, charitable donations as highlighted in this recent post.

All of the prior enforcement actions though appear to have been involved pre-existing, presumably bona fide charitable organizations that a “foreign official” nevertheless was involved in or was valued by the “foreign official.”

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Key Energy And The Parallel Universe

parallel universe

The conduct giving rise to last week’s FCPA enforcement action against Key Energy Services (see here and here for prior posts) was subject to judicial scrutiny once.

And it was not last week’s SEC administrative order.

As highlighted in this previous post, in March 2016 Judge Melinda Harmon (S.D.Tex.) dismissed securities fraud claims brought against Key Energy Services (See In re Key Energy Services Inc. Securities Litigation, 2016 WL 1305922 (March 31, 2016). The action touched upon, in part, the same general conduct alleged in the SEC’s order.

While there are obvious substantive and procedural differences between a securities fraud action and a finding of FCPA books and records and internal controls violations (what last week’s SEC order found), at the very least these two actions were part of the same parallel universe.

Thus, it is interesting to explore what happened in the action subjected to judicial scrutiny vs. last week’s SEC order.

In short, whereas the SEC found that Key Energy “failed to implement and maintain sufficient internal controls,” a federal court judge found (despite plaintiffs’ allegations to the contrary including statements from several confidential witnesses) that Key Energy’s “FCPA controls were adequate.” Whereas the SEC suggests, with the benefit of hindsight that there were controls that Key Energy should have had, a federal court judge found that certain of the controls Key Energy did not have were not even required for a company to have adequate internal controls.

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