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Issues To Consider From The Odebrecht / Braskem Enforcement Action

Issues

As highlighted in this prior post, last week’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action against Odebrecht / Braskem was egregious and largely centered on a business unit, the Division of Structured Operations, housed within an Odebrecht subsidiary that allegedly served as little more than a bribe-paying department for the benefit of Odebrecht and Braskem in connection with projects and other issues in Brazil and eleven other countries.

Given the egregious and wide-spread improper conduct, the Odebrecht / Braskem global (Brazil, U.S. and Switzerland) settlement of approximately $3.5 billion set a record. After accounting for various credits and deductions (including for payments to Brazil and Swiss law enforcement agencies and a claimed inability to pay) the net FCPA settlement amount (subject to potential future adjustments) was approximately $420 million (the 5th largest FCPA settlement amount of all-time). [Note, in April 2017 the DOJ trimmed the Odebrecht criminal penalty by $167 million to $93 million (it originally was $260 million). Thus, the overall net FCPA settlement amount is $252 million].

Just because the conduct was egregious does not mean that there are not legal and policy issues to consider from the enforcement action. This prior post highlighted why the Odebrecht / Braskem enforcement action was unique (the bulk of the conduct focused on Brazil and it is believed to be the first FCPA enforcement action ever against a foreign issuer for bribing its own “domestic” officials) and this post continues the analysis by highlighting additional issues to consider.

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Odebrecht / Braskem Bribery Schemes Net Approximate $420 Million FCPA Enforcement Action

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Yesterday, the DOJ and SEC announced (here and here) a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action against Odebrecht S.A. (a Brazilian holding company) and Braskem S.A. (a Brazil-based petrochemical company in which Odebrecht owns 50.1% of the voting shares, 38.1% of the total share capital and which Odebrecht “effectively controlled” according to the DOJ). Braskem has American Depositary Receipts registered with the SEC and traded on the NYSE and thus the enforcement action also included an SEC component.

Perhaps because of the less than clear DOJ release (clear once one actually reads the original source documents), this action is being reported in various places as a $3.5 billion FCPA enforcement action. While that figure represents the overall global settlement amount (Brazil and Swiss law enforcement also brought related actions), yesterday’s action was most certainly not a $3.5 billion FCPA enforcement action. Not even close.

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Friday Roundup

Roundup

Guilty plea, scrutiny alerts and updates, SEC Director of Enforcement to leave, sound analysis of the JPMorgan enforcement action, and for the reading stack.

It’s all here in the Friday roundup.

Mebiame Guilty Plea

As highlighted in this previous post, in August 2016 the DOJ unsealed a criminal complaint charging Samuel Mebiame, a Gabonese national connected to Och-Ziff, with conspiracy to violate the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions. In pertinent part, the complaint alleged that Mebiame, on behalf of Och-Ziff and related entities, routinely paid bribes to foreign government officials in at least each Niger, Guinea and Chad.”

Today, the DOJ announced that Mebiame pleaded guilty.

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Assistant Attorney General Caldwell’s Q&A Regarding FCPA Enforcement

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This post is from Debevoise & Plimpton attorneys Veronica Glick and Jonathan Tuttle.

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Yesterday, Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell discussed the DOJ’s FCPA enforcement goals at George Washington University Law School in Washington, D.C.   Caldwell’s remarks, available here, covered three topics: enforcement focus on large-scale international corruption; transparency in charging decisions with respect to corporate prosecutions; and fostering corporate compliance and cooperation.

The discussion below focuses on the Q&A portion of the event, which included the audience and panelists Karen Popp of Sidley Austin and Susan Karamanian of GW Law.  Assistant Attorney General Caldwell answered questions regarding the DOJ’s new FCPA pilot program, relationships with foreign law enforcement and the DOJ’s understanding of the FCPA’s jurisdictional reach.

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Friday Roundup

Roundup

A focus on the numbers, scrutiny alerts and updates, legal extortion?, and who said shareholder meetings are dull. It’s all here in the Friday roundup.

A Focus on the Numbers

Earlier this week, the SEC announced its FY2016 enforcement results and how it filed 868 enforcement actions, a “new single year high for SEC enforcement actions.” As noted in this Wall Street Journal article, this “marks the third year in a row the 82-year old agency has filed the most cases in its history.”

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