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FCPA Enforcement Actions Against Japanese Companies

Japan

When thinking of foreign companies that have resolved Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement actions, most people likely think of German and French companies.

Yet, the top domiciliary of foreign companies to resolve FCPA enforcement actions is actually Switizerland (6) and not far behind is Japan (5), likely soon to be 6 after Japan-based Olympus resolves it FCPA scrutiny (see here for the prior post).

This post highlights the five FCPA enforcement actions against Japanese Companies (all in the past 4.5 years) that have netted the U.S. treasury approximately $403 million.

JGC Corp. (Apr. 2011)

See here for the prior post.

The company was a joint venture partner in the so-called TSKJ consortium that was formed for purposes of bidding on and performing a series of engineering, procurement, and construction contracts to design and build a liquefied natural gas plant on Bonny Island, Nigeria. Previous Bonny Island FCPA enforcement actions involved: KBR / Halliburton (see here), Technip (see here) and Snamprogetti (see here).

The settlement amount was $218.8 million and the criminal charges were resolved via a DOJ deferred prosecution agreement.

In the DPA, the DOJ stated:  “after initially declining to cooperate with the Department based on jurisdictional arguments, JGC began to cooperate, and has agreed to continue to cooperate, with the Department.” There is no mention of voluntary disclosure in the settlement documents ((something the DOJ typically mentions in resolution documents if indeed it has occurred).

Bridgestone (Sept. 2011)

See here for the prior post.

The company pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Sherman Act and conspiracy to violate the FCPA. The FCPA conduct related to allegations of improper payments to officials in Latin America related to the sale of marine hose and other industrial products.

The overall settlement amount was $28 million and from the DOJ’s resolution documents it appears that approximately 80% of the $28 million fine was for the FCPA conduct.

In the DOJ’s release, it “recognized Bridgestone’s cooperation with the investigations, including conducting a worldwide internal investigation, voluntarily making employees available for interviews, and collecting, analyzing and providing to the department voluminous evidence and information.” There is no mention of voluntary disclosure in the settlement documents (something the DOJ typically mentions in resolution documents if indeed it has occurred).

Marubeni (Jan. 2012).

See here for the prior post.

The conduct at issue involved the same Bonny Island, Nigeria conduct in the JGC enforcement action and Marubeni was hired by the TSKJ consortium in connection with the project.

The settlement amount was approximately $56 million and the criminal charges were resolved via a DPA. The DOJ made no mention of voluntary disclosure or cooperation in the resolution documents (something the DOJ typically mentions in resolution documents if indeed it has occurred).

Marubeni (Mar. 2014)

See here for the prior post.

The company was a consortium partner along with Alstom in bidding on and carrying out the Tarahan power project in Indonesia and pleaded guilty to making improper payments to a consultant knowing that a portion of the payments were intended for Indonesian officials in exchange for their influence and assistance in awarding the Tarahan Project to Marubeni and Alstom.

The settlement amount was $88 million and in the plea agreement the DOJ stated that the fine amount was based on, among other things, “the Defendant’s failure to voluntarily disclose the conduct; the Defendants refusal to cooperate with the Department’s investigation when given the opportunity to do so; the lack of an effective compliance and ethics program at the time of the offense; the Defendant’s failure to properly remediate: and the Defendant’s history of prior criminal misconduct.”

Hitachi (Sept. 2015).

See here for the prior post.

According to the SEC, Hitachi violated the FCPA’s books and records and internal controls provisions “when it inaccurately recorded improper payments to South Africa’s ruling political party in connection with contracts to build two multi-billion dollar power plants.”

The settlement amount was $19 million and there was no mention of voluntary disclosure or cooperation in the SEC resolution documents (something the SEC typically mentions in resolution documents if indeed it has occurred).

Olympus (?)

As highlighted in this prior post, the company’s most recent disclosure states:

“Olympus Corporation hereby announces that Olympus Latin America, Inc. (“OLA”), an indirect U.S. subsidiary of ours, and Olympus Optical do Brasil, Ltda. (“OBL”), a Brazilian subsidiary of OLA, have been under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice (the “DOJ”) relating to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act concerning their medical business, and that we have recognized an extraordinary loss in connection with such investigation for the first quarter of the fiscal year ending March 2016.

Background of this matter. In October 2011, Olympus Corporation of the Americas (“OCA”), a U.S. subsidiary of ours and the parent company of OLA, self-reported to the DOJ potential issues concerning OLA’s and OBL’s medical businesses in 2011 or earlier. OCA is currently continuing discussions with the DOJ towards a resolution, but in view of the progress at the present time, we have recorded an extraordinary loss of approximately 2,421 million yen (approximately $19 million) as a provision.”

Friday Roundup

Guilty plea in FCPA obstruction case, SEC trims a pending case, across the pond, turnabout is fair play, and for the reading stack.  It’s all here in the Friday roundup.

Cilins Pleads Guilty

Earlier this week, the DOJ announced that Frederic Cilins pleaded guilty “to obstructing a federal criminal investigation into whether a mining company paid bribes to win lucrative mining rights in the Republic of Guinea.”  The DOJ release further states:

“Cilins pleaded guilty to a one-count superseding information …, which alleges that Cilins agreed to pay money to induce a witness to destroy, or provide to him for destruction, documents sought by the FBI.   According to the superseding information, those documents related to allegations concerning the payment of bribes to obtain mining concessions in the Simandou region of the Republic of Guinea.”

Cilins was originally charged in April 2013 (see this prior post for a summary of the criminal complaint) and there was much activity leading up to Cilins’s March 31st trial date.  For instance, on February 18th the DOJ filed a superseding indictment and on March 4th Cilins filed this motion to dismiss.  In pertinent part, the motion stated:

“For almost a year, the government has proceeded against Mr. Cilins under the theory that he criminally obstructed an investigation conducted by a federal grand jury in the Southern District of New York and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, after he first learned of that investigation in the spring of 2013. Now, on the eve of trial, the government has charged Mr. Cilins with conspiracy to commit criminal obstruction. The supposed conspiracy began in 2012, when, as the government admits, he had no intent to obstruct an American investigation—indeed, well before any such investigation had even been contemplated. The charge is instead based on a radical new theory: that Mr. Cilins interfered with a Guinean civil licensing investigation, which somehow amounts to a violation of U.S. obstruction law under 18 U.S.C. § 1519.

The government’s unprecedented and breathtaking attempt to federalize protection for investigations spread far and wide throughout the world has no basis in the text of the obstruction statute itself and no support in the case law. It also runs up against the well-established presumption that, absent strong evidence to the contrary, Congress did not intend to give federal statutes extraterritorial reach. Not only does § 1519 contain no textual evidence that Congress meant to give the law a worldwide sweep, the statute’s legislative history also confirms the obvious: that Congress wrote a federal obstruction statute in order to criminalize intentional interference with American investigations. The government’s new conspiracy count is fatally defective and must be dismissed.”

Cilins has been widely reported to be linked to Guernsey-based BSG Resources Ltd.  As reported here from 100 Reporters:

“The U.S. Justice Department has formally notified the Franco-Israeli billionaire Beny Steinmetz [the founder of BSG Resources] that he is the target of a federal probe of allegations of bribery in the Republic of Guinea, according to a source with knowledge of the matter. The disclosure places Steinmetz … personally at the center of a broad-based multinational corruption investigation involving some of the largest remaining untapped iron ore deposits in the world.  […] According to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, attorneys for Steinmetz have received a so-called “target letter” from federal prosecutors investigating allegations that Steinmetz’s mining company offered millions of dollars in bribes to win and keep the multi-billion dollar concession first awarded by the Guinean government in 2008.  The letter went to Steinmetz’s lawyers in January, the source said.”

For additional coverage of Cilins’s plea, see here from Reuters (noting that the plea agreement does not require any cooperation with the government’s investigation) and here from Bloomberg.

SEC Trims a Pending Case

This recent post highlighted how the SEC has never prevailed in an FCPA enforcement action when put to its ultimate burden of proof.

Against this backdrop, it is notable, as reported by the Wall Street Journal here and citing an SEC official, that the SEC is dropping its claims that former Magyar Telekom executives Elek Straub, Andras Balogh and Tomas Morval bribed Montenegro officials.  (The SEC’s claims that the former executives bribed Macedonian officials remains active).

See this prior post summarizing the SEC’s original 2011 complaint.

Across the Pond

More from the U.K. trial of former News Corp. executive Rebekah Brooks.  From the Guardian:

“Rebekah Brooks has admitted rubber stamping payments to military sources while she was editor at the Sun at the Old Bailey phone hacking trial. Brooks also admitted on Monday that she did not question whether the source of a series of stories that came from a reporter’s “ace military source” was a public official who could not be paid without the law being broken. Crown prosecutor Andrew Edis, QC, quizzed her about a series of emails from the reporter requesting tens of thousands of pounds for his military source. She responded to one request for payment in under a minute and to another within two minutes, the phone hacking trial heard. “You really were just acting as a rubber stamp weren’t you,” Edis asked. Brooks replied: “Yes.”

As noted in previous posts here and here:

“What happens in these trials concerning the bribery offenses will not determine the outcome of any potential News Corp. FCPA enforcement action. But you can bet that the DOJ and SEC will be interested in the ultimate outcome. In short, if there is a judicial finding that Brooks and/or Coulson or other high-level executives in London authorized or otherwise knew of the alleged improper payments, this will likely be a factor in how the DOJ and SEC ultimately resolve any potential enforcement action and how News Corp.’s overall culpability score may be calculated under the advisory Sentencing Guidelines.”

Turnabout Is Fair Play

Last week’s Friday Roundup (here) highlighted how Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) called out Koch Industries on the Senate floor and accused the company of violating the FCPA.  The previous post noted that it was not just executives or companies that support Republican causes that have come under FCPA scrutiny (several Democratic examples could be cited as well).

Indeed, that is just what the Washington Examiner did in this article which states as follows.

“Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has received campaign contributions from people and political action committees linked to multiple companies suspected of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.  […]  [R]ecords reveal that Reid has accepted campaign money from individuals and political action committees associated with 10 companies linked to FCPA investigations.  The contributions total $515,100 between 2009 and 2013.”

The inference from both Senator Reid’s initial volley and the Washington Examiner report would seem to be that companies that resolve FCPA enforcement actions or companies under FCPA scrutiny are bad or unethical companies and that politicians who accept support from such companies are thus tainted as well.

Such an inference is naive in the extreme.

Yes, certain FCPA enforcement actions are based on allegations that executive management or the board was involved in or condoned the improper conduct at issue. However, this type of FCPA enforcement action is not typical.

A typical FCPA enforcement action involves allegations that a small group of people (or perhaps even a single individual) within a subsidiary or business unit of a business organization engaged in conduct in violation of the FCPA. Yet because of respondeat superior principles, the company is exposed to FCPA liability even if the employee’s conduct is contrary to the company’s pre-existing FCPA policies and procedures.

Also relevant to the question of whether companies that resolve FCPA enforcement actions are “bad” or “unethical” is the fact that most FCPA enforcement actions are based on the conduct of third-parties under the FCPA’s third-party payment provisions. Further, certain FCPA enforcement actions are based on successor liability theories whereby an acquiring company is held liable for the acquired company’s FCPA liability.

Finally, given the resolution vehicles typically used to resolve an FCPA enforcement – such as non-prosecution and deferred prosecution agreements – companies subject to FCPA scrutiny often decide it is quicker, more cost efficient, and more certain to agree to such a resolution vehicle than engage in long-protracted litigation with the DOJ or SEC. These resolution vehicles do not require the company to plead guilty to anything (or typically admit the allegations in the SEC context), are not subject to meaningful judicial scrutiny, and do not necessarily represent the triumph of one party’s legal position over the other. Rather resolution via such a vehicle often reflects a risk-based decision often grounded in issues other than facts or the law. Indeed, a former high-ranking DOJ FCPA enforcement official has stated that given the availability of such alternative resolution vehicles, “it is tempting for the [DOJ], or the SEC since it too now has these options available, to seek to resolve cases through DPAs or NPAs that don’t actually constitute violations of the law.”

Last, but certainly not least, many corporate FCPA enforcement actions concern conduct that allegedly took place 5, 7, 10 or even 15 years ago.

Reading Stack

An informative read from Catherine Palmer and Daiske Yoshida (Latham & Watkins) titled “Deemed Public Officials:  A Potential Risk For U.S. Companies in Japan.”  The article states:

“Deemed public officials are officers and employees of entities that are not government owned but serve public functions. This concept is somewhat analogous to state-owned enterprises, but rather than being government owned/controlled entities that participate in commercial activities, these are commercial entities that play quasi-government roles.  […] The statutes that authorized the establishment of these companies stipulate that their officers and  employees are “deemed to be an employee engaged in public service” for the purposes of the Penal Code of Japan.”

Another informative read from Wendy Wysong (Clifford Chance) titled “Why, Whether, and When the FCPA Matters in Capital Market Transactions: The Asian Perspective.”  The article, in part, covers the FCPA’s tricky “issuer” concept and explores FCPA liability in Rule 144A and Regulation S offerings.

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A good weekend to all.

Bridgestone Corporation Resolves FCPA (and Antitrust) Enforcement Action

The DOJ announced yesterday (here) that “Bridgestone Corporation [a Japanese company that is the world’s largest manufacturer of tires and rubber products] has agreed to plead guilty and to pay a $28 million criminal fine for its role in conspiracies to rig bids and to make corrupt payments to foreign government officials in Latin America related to the sale of marine hose and other industrial products manufactured by the company.” 

Part conspiracy to violate the Sherman Act and part conspiracy to violate the FCPA, the FCPA portion of the criminal information (see here) alleges that Bridgestone conspired with others to “obtain and retain for Bridgestone’s IEPD [International Engineered Products Department] business million of dollars of sales of marine hose and other industrial products by making corrupt payments to foreign government officials in Latin America and elsewhere.”  Among other things, the DOJ alleged that Bridgestone: (i) “contracted with local sales agents in many of the Latin American countries where Bridgestone sought IEPD sales;” (ii) developed relationships with employees of the state-owned entities [PEMEX in Mexico is specifically mentioned] with which Bridgestone sought to do business;” (iii) “negotiated with employees of state-owned entities who were ‘foreign officials’ under the FCPA, in Mexico and other Lartin American countries, to make corrupt payments to those foreign officials to secure business for Bridgestone and BIPA [Bridgestone Industrial Products of America Inc. – Bridgestone’s U.S. subsidiary];” (iv) “approved the making of corrupt payments to the foreign officials through the local sales agents to secure business for Bridgestone and BIPA;” (v) paid local sales agents commissions within which BIPA included corrupt payments to be paid to the foreign officials; (vi) “coordinated these corrupt payments in Latin America through Bridgestone’s agents in the United States located in BIPA’s offices, including in Houston, Texas; and (vii) “took steps to conceal these payments, including, in some instances writing ‘Read and Destroy’ on facsimiles that contained information related to the corrupt payments and, in other instances using verbal communication rather than written communication to avoid creating written record.”

As to jurisdiction against Bridgestone, the DOJ asserts 78dd-3 and merely alleges that e-mails or faxes were sent to or from Japan to the U.S. in connection with bribery scheme.  Interestingly, in the Africa Sting case, Judge Leon – in the first judicial test of 78dd-3 jurisdiction – seemed to reject the notion that such conduct, in and of itself, satisfied 78dd-3’s “while in the territory of the U.S.” requirement.  See here for the prior post.

According to this filing, it would appear that approximately 80% of the $28 million fine is for the FCPA conduct.  The guidelines range for the antitrust conduct was $6.7 million – $13.4 million.  The guidelines range for the FCPA conduct was $40 million – $80 million. 

In other respects, the DOJ release states as follows.  “Under the plea agreement, the department recognized Bridgestone’s cooperation with the investigations, including conducting a worldwide internal investigation, voluntarily making employees available for interviews, and collecting, analyzing and providing to the department voluminous evidence and information.  In addition, the plea agreement acknowledges Bridgestone’s extensive remediation, including restructuring the relevant part of its business, terminating many of its third-party agents and taking remedial actions with respect to employees responsible for many of the corrupt payments.  Under the terms of the plea agreement, Bridgestone has committed to continuing to enhance its compliance program and internal controls.  As a result of these mitigating factors, the department agreed to recommend a substantially reduced fine.”

In a press release (here), Bridgestone [BSJ] noted as follows.  “Since May 2007, the DOJ has been investigating BSJ’s involvement in international cartel activities relating to the sale of marine hose. The DOJ has also investigated improper payments to government officials through local sales agents focusing primarily on Latin America in connection with certain industrial products. BSJ has cooperated fully in this matter.  The DOJ has agreed that BSJ’s cooperation has been ‘extraordinary’.  The DOJ has also acknowledged that BSJ has engaged in extensive remediation including dismantling the International Engineered Products Department, closing its Houston office of Bridgestone Industrial Products of America, Inc., terminating many of its third party agents, and taking remedial actions with respect to its employees. BSJ has also decided to withdraw from the marine hose business.”  The release further notes that the $28 million fine is a “significant reduction from the applicable sentencing guidelines due to BSJ’s cooperation and remediation efforts.”

Ordinarily, extraordinary cooperation, remediation, etc. allow a company to settle an FCPA enforcement action via a non-prosecution or deferred prosecution agreement.  Yet, the two-crime nature of the Bridgestone enforcement action may have prompted the DOJ to insist on a plea agreement to actual criminal charges.

As noted in the DOJ release, in 2008 Misao Hioki, the former general manager of Bridgestone’s international engineered products department, pleaded guilty to antitrust and FCPA conspiracy charges.  See here for that prior enforcement action.

Since April, Japanese companies have contributed approximately $248 million to the U.S. Treasury for violating the FCPA (recognizing that the Bridgestone action also contains an antitrust component).  See here for the prior JGC Corporation enforcement action.  Another Japanese company, Sojitz Corporation, is also reportedly the subject of an FCPA investigation in relation to conduct in Bahrain.  See here for the prior post. 

You ask, doesn’t Japan have its own “FCPA-like” law?  Yes, it does; however there is no criminal liability for corporations under the law.  To learn more see here.

Finally, the FCPA Blog reports (here) that Bridgestone has ADRs traded in the U.S. over the counter in the pink sheets.  In the past, the SEC has asserted FCPA books and records and internal controls jurisdiction over a company based on such a listing.  Given that DOJ and SEC enforcement actions are typically announced on the same day, and given nothing was announced yesterday by the SEC, it is further interesting that the SEC has apparently chosen to sit out the Bridgestone matter.

The Globalization of Anti-Corruption Law

Today’s post is from Juliet S. Sorensen (here) a  Clinical Assistant Professor of Law at Northwestern University, where her teaching and research interests include international criminal law and corruption.

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At the annual meeting of the American Bar Association in Toronto last week, the Presidential Showcase Program of the Criminal Justice Section (here) was entitled “The Globalization of Anti-Corruption Law.”  Moderated by T. Markus Funk of Perkins Coie (here), the panel included Andrew S. Boutros (here) of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago (appearing in his personal capacity); Walter H. White Jr. (here)  from the London office of McGuire Woods; Tyler Hodgson (here) of the Canadian firm Border Ladner Gervais; and yours truly.

Audience members who braved a driving rainstorm en route to the Metropolitan Toronto Convention Centre on Sunday morning were privy to a wide range of insights and perspectives on the worldwide proliferation of aggressive anti-corruption laws.  Funk set the scene and introduced both the topic and speakers, Boutros spoke about the latest trends in FCPA and international enforcement, White discussed the implications of the brand-new UK Anti-Bribery Act, Hodgson talked about Canadian anti-bribery actions, and I examined the global impact of international anti-bribery conventions such as the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.

The consensus among the panelists was that aggressive enforcement of bribery statutes is an international trend not limited to the U.S., although the U.S. remains the undisputed leader in that regard.  Even Canada, which Transparency International has deemed the laggard of the G-7 in its anti-bribery enforcement, has brought a significant indictment in the last year and currently has twenty active investigations into possible violations of the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act.

After Funk pointed out that the number of FCPA indictments increased by a power of 10 from 2004 to 2010, Boutros noted that many of the most significant recent U.S. cases were against foreign companies.  This points not only to increased commercial globalization—foreign companies that pass bribes overseas possess a jurisdictional connection to the U.S.—but also to increased international cooperation by law enforcement.  Boutros also pointed out an increased trend in what he termed “carbon copy” prosecutions, a phenomenon where foreign authorities rely on the factual findings emerging out of U.S. enforcement actions to vindicate the local laws of their own jurisdiction—often the site of the bribe payment or bribe receipt.    Indeed, a corporate defendant’s obligation to cooperate not just locally, but internationally is increasingly spelled out in U.S. plea agreements or deferred prosecution agreements.  Given that the Double Jeopardy Clause does not bar foreign-federal prosecutions (see, e.g., U.S. v. Jeong), such a term of agreement may well be cause for concern to defense counsel.

That’s not to say, however, that other countries are equal to the U.S. in terms of number or aggressiveness of prosecutions.  In my own remarks, I reviewed three G-7 “case studies”—France, Germany, and Japan—and found that France is hampered in its own prosecutions of foreign bribery by an excessively short statute of limitations (three years) and a ban on plea agreements, and in its cooperation with others by a sweeping blocking statute.  Germany is vigilant in the enforcement of its own anti-bribery laws, but the OECD has encouraged that country to increase the statutory maximums for its applicable fines and sentences of imprisonment, noting that the sentences imposed in these cases by German courts are too low to act as an effective deterrent.  Of the three, it is the anti-bribery landscape in Japan that is the most barren, with scant prosecutions due to a failure to gather evidence both at home and overseas.  In a searing self-assessment required by the OECD, Japan pointed to an absence of whistleblower support in corporate and popular culture and the limited foreign language skills of Japanese investigators overseas as two significant reasons for its failure to meet the expectations of the OECD.

Walter White was peppered with questions about the impact of the sweeping UK Anti-Bribery Act, including its impact on Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, accused of making payoffs to high-ranking law enforcement in the UK.  White reminded the audience that the UK Anti-Bribery Act was unlikely to be retroactive, and thus would not apply to the actions of News Corp., although there are other UK statutes as well as the FCPA that could encompass News Corp’s actions.

Another question pointed to the limited scope of the FCPA as compared to the UK law, noting that the payment of a bribe by a U.S. subject to a warlord in Afghanistan or Somalia could not be prosecuted under the FCPA as that warlord is not a public official, but that a similar payment by a U.K. subject was a violation of the Anti-Bribery Act.  True, Funk responded, assuming that a warlord operating as a quasi-official in a lawless state was not enough, but don’t forget the Travel Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1952: the Travel Act prohibits the use of a facility of foreign or interstate commerce (such as email, telephone, or personal travel), with intent to promote or distribute the proceeds of an activity that is a violation of state or federal bribery, extortion or arson laws, or a violation of the federal gambling, narcotics, money-laundering or RICO statutes.  Thus, for example, if a U.S. businessperson is negotiating a private deal in a foreign country and offers by telephone and wires money to a foreign counterpart to influence acceptance of the transaction–and such activity is a violation of the federal or state law where the individual is doing business–the Justice Department may conclude that a violation of the Travel Act has occurred.

Finally, an audience member pointed out that, U.S. anti-bribery culture notwithstanding, bribes and “grease” are expected in the normal course of business in many Eastern European and former Soviet republics.  Does that expectation shield the briber payer?

The panel was unanimous that, unless the payments were in fact legal—not merely expected—in the country in question, the U.S. bribe payer could be in violation of the FCPA.  But that’s ok: “leveling the playing field” for honest businesses is one of the stated purposes of the FCPA, the Anti-Bribery Convention, and the UN Convention against Corruption.  And who doesn’t want to play on a level field?

The Compliance Defense Around The World

As highlighted in this prior post, numerous FCPA reform bills in the 1980’s included a specific defense which stated a company would not be held vicariously liable for a violation of the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions by its employees or agents, who were not an officer or director, if the company established procedures reasonably designed to prevent and detect FCPA violations by employees and agents. An FCPA reform bill containing such a provision did pass the U.S. House, but was not enacted into law.

Amending the FCPA to include a compliance defense is one of the U.S. Chamber’s FCPA reform proposals (see here). In November 2010, Andrew Weissman, on behalf of the Chamber, testified in favor of a compliance defense (and other reform proposals) during the Senate’s FCPA hearing (see here for the prior post) and during the House hearing earlier this month (see here for the prior post), former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, on behalf of the Chamber, also testified in favor of a compliance defense (and other reform proposals).

During the House hearing, there appeared to be bi-partisan support for consideration of an FCPA compliance defense.

Even so, Greg Andres, testifying on behalf of the DOJ, stated that a potential FCPA compliance defense was “novel and risky” and that the “time is not right to consider it.”

Public debate on a potential compliance defense has thus far focused, from a comparative standpoint, on the United Kingdom and Italy.

The purpose of this post is to further inform the public debate on a potential compliance defense by highlighting various compliance-like defenses around the world in other countries that are signatories (like the U.S.) to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.

This post is further to my work in progress – Revisiting an FCPA Compliance Defense – and represents hours of research analyzing 38 OECD Country Reports.

The post provides an overview of compliance-like defenses in the following OECD Convention signatory countries: Australia, Chile, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Korea, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, and Switzerland. [The U.K. Bribery Act, set to go live on July 1st, also contains a compliance-like defense in Section 7].

A first reaction might be – only 12 of the 38 OECD member countries have a compliance-like defense.

However, this number must be viewed against the backdrop of the following dynamics: (i) in many OECD Convention signatory countries, the concept of legal person criminal liability (as opposed to natural person criminal liability) is non-existent; and (ii) in many OECD Convention signatory countries that do have legal person criminal liability, such legal person liability can only result from the actions of high-level executive personnel or other so-called “controlling minds” of the legal person.

Obviously if a foreign country does not provide for legal person liability, there is no need for a compliance defense, and the rationale for a compliance defense is less compelling if legal exposure can result only from the conduct of high-level executive personnel or other “controlling minds.”

When properly viewed against these dynamics, a compliance-like defense (whether specifically part of a foreign country’s “FCPA-like” law or otherwise generally part of a foreign country’s legal principles) is far from a “novel” idea, but rather common among OECD Anti-Bribery Convention signatory countries that – like the U.S. – have legal person criminal liability that can attach based on the conduct of non-executive officers or other “controlling minds.”

[The below information is based strictly on OECD country reports and is subject to the qualification that in many instances the most recent information concerning a particular country may be several years old. If anyone has more recent information concerning any particular country, how the compliance defense in a particular country has worked in practice, or any other relevant information, please leave a comment on this site or contact me at mjkoehle@butler.edu]

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Australia

Australian law implementing the OECD Convention entered into force on December 18, 1999.

Thereafter, a section of the Criminal Code on corporate criminal liability came into full force establishing an organizational model for the liability of legal persons. “Bodies corporate” are liable for offences committed by “an employee, agent or officer of a body corporate acting within the actual or apparent scope of his or her employment, or within his or her actual or apparent authority” where the body corporate “expressly, tacitly, or impliedly authorised or permitted the commission of the offence”.

Pursuant to the Criminal Code, authorisation or permission by the body corporate may be established in the following ways: (1) the board of directors intentionally, knowingly or recklessly carried out the conduct, or expressly, tacitly or impliedly authorised or permitted it to occur; (2) a high managerial agent intentionally, knowingly or recklessly carried out the conduct, or expressly, tacitly or impliedly authorised or permitted it to occur; (3) a corporate culture existed that directed, encouraged, tolerated or led to the offence; or (4) the body corporate failed to create and maintain a corporate culture that required compliance with the relevant provision.

However, under the Criminal Code, “if a high managerial agent is directly or indirectly involved in the conduct, no offence is committed where the body corporate proves that it “exercised due diligence to prevent the conduct, or the authorisation or permission.”

Chile

Chilean law implementing the OECD Convention entered into force on October 8, 2002.

In December 2009, a separate Chilean law entered into force establishing criminal responsibility of legal persons for a limited list of offences including bribery of foreign public officials.

In order for a legal person to be held responsible for a foreign bribery offence, the following “three cumulative requirements” must be satisfied: (1) the offence must be committed by a person acting as a representative, director or manager, a person exercising powers of administration or supervision, or a person under the “direction or supervision” of one of the aforementioned persons; (2) the offence must be committed for the direct and immediate benefit or interest of the legal entity. No offence is committed where the natural person commits the offence exclusively in his/her own interest or in the interest of a third party; and (3) the offence must have been made possible as a consequence of a failure of the legal entity to comply with its duties of management and supervision. An entity will have failed to comply with its duties if it violates the obligation to implement a model for the prevention of offences, or when having implemented the model, it was insufficient.”

As to the final element, the OECD report states as follows. “The final cumulative requirement for responsibility stresses that the offence must have been made possible as a consequence of the failure of the legal person to comply with its duties of administration and supervision. The entity will have failed to comply with its duties if it violated the obligation to implement a model for the prevention of offences, or when having implemented the model, the latter was insufficient. It shall be considered that the functions of direction and supervision have been met if, before the commission of the offense, the legal person had adopted and implemented organization, administration and supervision models, pursuant to the following article, to prevent such offenses as the one committed.”

The minimum features of a prevention system under the law are as follows: identify the different activities or processes of the entity, whether habitual or sporadic, in whose context the risk of commission of the offences emerges or increases; establish protocols, rules and procedures that permit persons involved in above-mentioned activities or processes to program and implement their tasks or functions in a manner that prevents the commission of the indicated offences; identify procedures for the administration and auditing that allow the entity to impede their use in the listed offences; establish internal administrative sanctions, as well as procedures for reporting or pursuing pecuniary responsibility against persons who violate the prevention system; introduce the above-mentioned duties, prohibitions and sanctions into the internal regulations of the legal person, and ensure that they are known by all persons bound to apply it (workers, employees, and service providers).

The OECD report states – as to the minimum requirements as follows. “It also aims to introduce a system of self-regulation by companies. Having a code of conduct on paper will not be sufficient to avoid responsibility. If prosecutors can prove that the code does not meet the minimum requirements of or that it is not implemented, the company can be responsible for the offence.”

Under Chilean law, “the failure to comply with duties of management and supervision is an element of the offence rather than a defence. Therefore the burden of proof lies on prosecutors, i.e. it will be up to prosecutors to prove that the entity failed to comply with its duties of management and supervision.”

The OECD report notes as follows. “This will require prosecutors to prove that the company failed in the design and/or implementation of the offense prevention model including why, in the circumstances, the prevention model was insufficient. This would appear to also require the prosecutor to establish that this failure made perpetration of the offence possible.”

As noted in the OECD report, the Chilean “standard of liability is inspired from the Italian system of liability of legal persons” (discussed below).

Germany

German law implementing the OECD Convention entered into force on February 15, 1999.

German law establishes the liability of legal persons, including liability for the foreign bribery offence, under an administrative (i.e. non-criminal form) act.

Pursuant to the administrative act, “the liability of legal persons is triggered where any “responsible person” (which includes a broad range of senior managerial stakeholders and not only an authorised representative or manager), acting for the management of the entity commits i) a criminal offence including bribery; or ii) an administrative offence including a violation of supervisory duties which either violates duties of the legal entity, or by which the legal entity gained or was supposed to gain a “profit”.”

As noted in the OECD report, “in other words, Germany enables corporations to be imputed with offences i) by senior managers, and, somewhat indirectly, ii) with offences by lower level personnel which result from a failure by a senior corporate figure to faithfully discharge his/her duties of supervision.”

The OECD report states that the “standards for a violation of supervisory duties include consideration of factors such as whether the company has in place a monitoring system or in-house regulations for employees.”

Hungary

Hungarian law implementing the OECD Convention entered into force on March 1, 1999.

In 2004, a separate law was enacted specifying the individuals whose actions can trigger the liability of the legal person.

The OECD report states as follows. “The specific persons and additional conditions for liability are defined as follows: (i) the bribery is committed by one of the members or officers [of the legal entity] entitled to manage or represent it, or a supervisory board member and/or their representatives acting within the legal scope of activity of the legal person ; (ii) the bribery is committed by one of the members of the legal entity or an employee acting within the legal scope of activity of the legal person provided the bribery could have been prevented by the chief executive fulfilling his supervisory or control obligations; and (iii) the bribery is committed by a third party individual, provided that the legal entity’s member or officer entitled to manage or represent the it had knowledge of the facts.”

According to the OECD report, the relevant law does not provide any guidance as to the necessary degree of supervision to avoid liability for bribery.

Italy

Italian law implementing the OECD Convention entered into force on October 26, 2000.

Under Italian law, “criminal liability cannot be attributed to legal persons” however, “administrative liability may be attributed to legal persons for certain criminal offences (including foreign bribery) committed by a natural person.

The relevant administrative decree provides a “defence of organisational models” to a body which makes reasonable efforts to prevent the commission of an offence.

The OECD report states as follows. “… [A] body is not liable for offences committed by persons in senior positions if it proves the following. First, before the offence was committed, the body’s management had adopted and effectively implemented an appropriate organisational and management model to prevent offences of the kind that has occurred. Second, the body had set up an autonomous organ to supervise, enforce and update the model. Third, this autonomous organ had sufficiently supervised the operation of the model. Fourth, the perpetrator committed the offence by fraudulently evading the operation of the model.” The defence of organisation models operates as a full defence which completely exculpates a legal person.

The relevant administrative decree stipulates the essential elements of an acceptable organisational model described in the OECD report as follows. “First, the model must identify activities which may give rise to offences. Second, the model must define procedures through which the body makes and implements decisions relating to the offences to be prevented. It must also prescribe procedures for managing financial resources to prevent offences from being committed. Third, the model must oblige the internal organ responsible for supervision and enforcement to provide information to the body. Finally, the model must include a disciplinary system for non-compliance.”

Japan

Japanese law implementing the OECD Convention entered into force on February 15, 1999 .

“Under Japanese law, criminal responsibility of a legal person is based on the principle that the company did not exercise due care in the supervision, selection, etc. of an officer or employee to prevent the culpable act.

The burden rests on the legal person to prove that due care was exercised. Where a legal person raises the defence, a person must be identified as having exercised due care, etc., and the court must determine whether it was exercised properly having regard to the nature of the legal person and the circumstances of the case.”

Korea

Korean law implementing the OECD Convention entered into force on February 15, 1999.

Korean law establishes the criminal responsibility of legal persons for the bribery of a foreign public official, however, a legal person is exempt from liability where it has paid “due attention” or exercised “proper supervision” to prevent the offence.

The statute itself does not provide information about what constitutes “due attention” or “proper supervision.” A representative of the Supreme Public Prosecutor’s Office informed the OECD that “the exemption is triggered when a director or ‘superior person’ exercises due attention.” The Explanatory Manual published by the Ministry of Justice states that “it is difficult to standardize the extent of attention or supervision in deciding whether a legal person can be exempted from criminal punishment.” The Explanatory Manual further states that whether the exemption applies depends upon “general circumstances such as the motive and background that led to the bribery, intervention of exclusive members of the legal person, whether it was informed earlier, and how much effort was usually made by the corporation to prevent bribery, etc.” and that companies involved in international business must prevent violations of the law by all employees and executives of the company “through sufficient necessary management”.

Poland

Polish law implementing the OECD Convention entered into force on February 4, 2001.

Polish law provides “a noncriminal form of responsibility for collective entities.” Among the requirements for liability is the offence was committed “in the effect of at least absence of due diligence in electing the natural person [committing the act] or of at least the absence of due supervision over this person by an authority or a representative of the collective entity.”

According to the relevant Polish legislative history, “the perpetration of a prohibited act by a natural person will trigger liability of the
collective entity where the act occurred as a result of negligence on the part of the authority or representative of the collective entity.”

Portugal

Portuguese law implementing the OECD Convention entered into force on June 9, 2001.

Under Portuguese law relevant to corruption in international business transactions, legal persons can be liable for conduct committed “on their behalf and in the collective interest by natural persons occupying a leadership position within the legal person structure” or by “whoever acts under the authority” of such natural persons.

However, “[t]he liability of legal persons and equivalent entities is excluded when the actor has acted against the orders or express instructions of the person responsible.”

Sweden

Swedish law implementing the OECD Convention entered into force on July 1, 1999.

Under Swedish Law, only natural persons can commit crimes. However, pursuant to the Swedish Penal Code, a “kind of quasi-criminal liability is applied to an ‘entrepreneur’ (a general term meaning “any natural or legal person that professionally runs a business of an economic nature) for a ‘crime committed in the exercise of business activities.’”

However, one requirement under the Penal Code is that “the entrepreneur has not done what could reasonable be required of him for prevention of the crime.”

Switzerland

Swiss law implementing the OECD Convention entered into force on May 1, 2000.

Article 100quater of the Swiss Criminal Code requires “defective organisation as a condition for corporate criminal liability.”

In order to incur criminal liability, “the enterprise must not have taken all reasonable and necessary organisational measures to prevent the individual from committing the offence.”

Under Swiss law, the burden is on the prosecutor to furnish proof of defective organization and according to Swiss authorities contacted by the OECD “steps should be taken to assess whether employees have been sufficiently informed, supervised and controlled” and “the fact that an enterprise is organised in compliance with international management standards will not be sufficient to rule out all liability on its part; it will be one element to take into consideration among others …”. In the view of Swiss authorities, “ shifting the burden of proof in criminal cases would contravene Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.”

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