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Friday Roundup

Scrutiny alerts and updates, an FCPA fumble, checking in with the SFO, and for the reading stack.  It’s all here in the Friday roundup.

Scrutiny Alerts and Updates

Cobalt International Energy

Cobalt has been under FCPA scrutiny since 2011 for its alleged business relationships in Angola.  (See here and here for prior posts).

In this recent SEC filing, the company states:

“As previously disclosed, the Company is currently subject to a formal order of investigation issued in 2011 by the SEC related to its operations in Angola.  […] In connection with such investigation, on the evening of August 4, 2014, the Company received a “Wells Notice” from the Staff of the SEC stating that the Staff has made a preliminary determination to recommend that the SEC institute an enforcement action against the Company, alleging violations of certain federal securities laws. In connection with the contemplated action, the Staff may recommend that the SEC seek remedies that could include an injunction, a cease-and-desist order, disgorgement, pre-judgment interest and civil money penalties. The Wells Notice is neither a formal allegation nor a finding of wrongdoing. It allows the Company the opportunity to provide its reasons of law, policy or fact as to why the proposed enforcement action should not be filed and to address the issues raised by the Staff before any decision is made by the SEC on whether to authorize the commencement of an enforcement proceeding. The Company intends to respond to the Wells Notice in the form of a “Wells Submission” in due course.

The Company has fully cooperated with the SEC in this matter and intends to continue to do so. The Company has conducted an extensive investigation into these allegations and the receipt of the Wells Notice does not change the Company’s belief that its activities in Angola have complied with all laws, including the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The Company is unable to predict the outcome of the SEC’s investigation or any action that the SEC may decide to pursue.”

Rare are so-called Wells Notices in the FCPA context for the simple reason that few issuers actually publicly push back against the SEC.  However, this is the second instance in the past four months of the SEC sending an issuer a Wells notice in connection with an FCPA inquiry. (See here for the prior post regarding Qualcomm).

As highlighted by the below excerpts, the Wells notice was a hot topic during Cobalt’s most recent quarterly earnings call.  The below excerpts also capture the candid statements of Cobalt’s CEO concerning the SEC’s position.

Joseph Bryant – Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Before we get into the Q&A, let me say a few words about our 8-K disclosure from earlier this morning. As it noted, last evening, less than 24 hours ago, we received a Wells Notice from the Securities and Exchange Commission related to the investigation the agency has been conducting relating to Cobalt’s operations in Angola and the allegations of Angolan government official ownership of Nazaki Oil and Gas, one of the other working interest owners in Blocks 9 and 21 offshore Angola. In the notice, the staff of the SEC stated that it had made a preliminary and, in our view erroneous, determination to recommend that the SEC move forward with an enforcement action against the company. I think it’s important to point out that the Wells Notice is neither a formal allegation nor a finding of wrongdoing. It merely allows Cobalt the opportunity to provide its reasons of law, policy and fact as to why the proposed enforcement action should not be filed before any enforcement decision is made by the SEC. As you know, we have fully cooperated with the SEC and the investigation since it began nearly 3.5 years ago. And we will continue to do so. In the same vein, we will, of course, take this opportunity and respond to the SEC as part of the Wells process. But let me be very clear. This Wells Notice does nothing to change our prior conclusion that our activity in Angola have fully complied with all laws, including the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and Cobalt continues to strongly refute any allegation of any wrongdoing.”


Evan Calio – Morgan Stanley, Research Division

I appreciate your comments on the Wells Notice and underlying FCPA claims. Is there any — can you comment if there’s any potential collateral effect in a negative outcome scenario, meaning other than a potential fine? Could it affect your career or anything in your leases?


Well, good question, Evan. We obviously disagree with the staff’s position in the Wells Notice and we’ll respond to the notice in due course. As we’ve stated repeatedly over the past several years, Cobalt has and always will conduct all aspects of our business to the highest ethical standards and in full compliance with all laws and regulations in all jurisdictions, not just Angola, where we operate. This is the case of all of our Angolan operations. We fully plan and expect to pursue the exploration, appraisal and development of all of our Angolan assets, including Cameia development in a timely manner as we’ve previously discussed. And that’s about all I can say, Evan.


Okay, that’s great. And do you have a hearing date on the Wells Notice? Or is that — just not at this time?


No. There’s a process, but to be honest, it’s just like some other things, it can just wander on.


Joseph Allman – JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division

So just back to the Wells Notice for a few minutes, John. Are you planning on taking a reserve? I assume it’s not estimable at this point if there is any fine, so I assume the answer is no. And then just — could you just describe the next steps a little bit? I think you guys have to write a response. If I’m not mistaken, you’ve got about 2 weeks to file that response. Is that correct? Could you just give us some more details on that?

John Wilkerson – Chief Financial Officer, Principal Accounting Officer and Executive Vice President

We are not planning on taking a reserve.


And yes, there is a formal process that we respond to. Our view of the facts — and of course, we know the facts incredibly well since we’ve been investigating this for a very long time, and so we will submit our facts to the SEC here in the next several weeks.


Edward Westlake – Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division

Let’s then get into the Wells Notice as well. So I mean, my understanding, which may be incorrect, of the FCPA is that one aspect of it is doing due diligence, which is the standard of reasonable inquiries, and then the other aspect of it is if some exchange took place in order to get access to the block. It seems from the outside to me that perhaps some disagreements with you and the SEC on how much due diligence was needed could be a civil sort of issue whereas if there was some exchange, that seem to me would be more criminal. So I’m just trying to get a sense of what it is that the SEC, if you know, disagree with you on in terms of their assessment as to why they’d want to go towards an enforcement.


Well, the way the process works is it’s somewhat opaque, to be honest with you, on one side, but it’s fully transparent on our side. So we know all the facts, we know them very well. And I’ve said many times that we built Cobalt the right way from day 1 before we ever considered leases in Angola. All of our FCPA, all of our compliance, all of our due diligence systems were built into the company from day 1. I didn’t fall off the turnip truck yesterday and neither did any of these guys around the table. We know all about FCPA and we weren’t about to wander into anything there unknowingly. So all I can say for sure is we know what we’ve done. We know what compliance is required. We’ve gone above and beyond that and we’ll stand firm on our actions.


Okay. And all of the due diligence which I’ve done also suggests that your staff has done a very good job in terms of doing their due diligence. But maybe a different way of asking the question, do you think it’s just the level of due diligence which the SEC disagree with you on? Or do you think that there has been some exchange? I understand that Nazaki is a full paying member of the consortium, in fact, was imposed on you rather than something that you chose. But I’m just trying to get some understanding as to what it is you think they disagree with you on.


Ed, I appreciate your probing nature, but I really can’t answer that. Again, what I can tell you is, again, we understand the requirements. We understand the law, we understand compliance, we understand due diligence. And we have gone above and beyond in every case. And we sit here today confident in our position, and I cannot and will not speculate on what the SEC’s views are.


Okay. And then have there been any inquiries from the DOJ?


We have — at every step of the last 3.5 years, we have managed both the SEC and the DOJ simultaneously to make sure that both of those federal agencies are fully up to speed on what we’ve done and what we know about. So I would say constant communication with both agencies has been a routine over the past 3 years.



Right. And maybe just a follow-up on the Wells Notice. Will we ever see the actual SEC letter? Is that a public domain or is it private in terms of their allegations, when eventually they make them.


It’s currently private, and we’ll — I hope we’re demonstrating how transparent we are. When we know something, we’ll tell you. And when we have something we can release, we’ll release it. That’s about all really I can say about it.


I mean, it would be helpful, I think, for investors to see what the allegation specifics are to be able to make a judgment call but, obviously, I leave that up to you.


Got it.


Al Stanton – RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division

[J]ust back to the Wells notice. Can I ask whether the letters are addressed to the company or do they actually name specific individuals?


The company.

Staying with Cobalt-related issues, Global Witness recently issued this press release stating:

“BP and its partners including Houston-based Cobalt have contributed US$175 million over the past two-and-a-half years to fund a project in Angola known as the Sonangol Research and Technology Center (SRTC), with another US$175 million due to be paid by January 2016. Global Witness asked BP and Cobalt to provide any information that confirms the SRTC exists. The companies did not provide this information in their responses. BP stated that Sonangol, Angola’s state-owned oil company, “has informed BP that the SRTC is still in planning stage.” Cobalt said they “monitor the progress of our social contributions in Angola, including the Research and Technology Center” but did not provide any further information about the project. Global Witness asked Sonangol for information to confirm the existence of the SRTC, but the company did not respond. We commissioned interviews with well-placed industry insiders, but none of them could confirm that the SRTC exists.  Global Witness is calling on the Angolan authorities to disclose where this money has gone.”

SBM Offshore

The company has been under FCPA (and related scrutiny) since 2012 concerning allegations primarily in Equatorial Guinea and Angola and disclosed in this press release as follows.

“As previously disclosed in various press releases, SBM Offshore voluntarily reported in April 2012 an internal investigation into potentially improper sales practices involving third parties to the relevant authorities, and has since been in dialogue with these authorities. SBM Offshore is discussing a potential settlement of the issues arising from the investigation. While these discussions are ongoing, it is sufficiently clear that a resolution of the issues will have a financial component, and consequently SBM Offshore has recorded a non-recurring charge of US$240 million in the first half of 2014, reflecting the information currently available to the Company. Until the matter is concluded, SBM Offshore cannot provide further details regarding a possible resolution of the issues arising from the investigation, and no assurance can be given that a settlement will actually be reached. As always, the Company will inform the market as soon as further information can be provided.”

FCPA Fumble

U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) is not the first member of Congress to fumble an FCPA issue, just the latest.  As noted in this Radio Free Europe article:

“A U.S. senator has asked federal authorities to investigate whether a powerful Russian media mogul seen as the mastermind behind the Kremlin-funded RT network used dirty money to purchase pricey California real estate.   U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (Republican-Mississippi) has asked the Justice Department to investigate whether Mikhail Lesin, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s former press minister, violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act or laundered money by acquiring multimillion-dollar homes in the Los Angeles area.”  [See here for Senator Wicker’s letter to the DOJ].

Dear Senator Wicker, alleged “foreign officials” are not subject to the FCPA.  See U.S. v. Castle, 925 F.2d 831 (5th Cir. 1991).

Checking In With the SFO

The U.K. Serious Fraud Office recently announced the following sentences of individuals in connection with the Innospec prosecution.

Dennis Kerrison, 69, of Chertsey, Surrey, was sentenced to 4 years in prison. Paul Jennings, 57, of Neston, Cheshire, was sentenced to 2 years in prison. Miltiades Papachristos, 51 of Thessaloniki, Greece, was sentenced to 18 months in prison. David Turner, 59, of Newmarket, Suffolk, was sentenced to a 16 month suspended sentence with 300 hours unpaid work

Mr Kerrison and Dr Papachristos were convicted of conspiracy to commit corruption in June 2014 in relation to Indonesia only. Mr Jennings pleaded guilty in June 2012 to two charges of conspiracy to commit corruption and in July 2012 to a further charge of conspiracy to commit corruption in relation to Indonesia and Iraq. Dr Turner pleaded guilty to three charges of conspiracy to commit corruption in January 2012 in relation to Indonesia and Iraq.

Further information on the guilty verdict delivered in the trial of Mr Kerrison and Dr Papachristos can be found here, while information on the guilty pleas entered into by Dr Turner and Mr Jennings can be found here and here.

Upon sentencing the defendants, HHJ Goymer said:

“Corruption in this company was endemic, institutionalised and ingrained… but despite being a separate legal entity it is not an automated machine; decisions are made by human minds.

“None of these defendants would consider themselves in the same category as common criminals who commit crimes of dishonesty or violence….. but the real harm lies in the effect on public life, the effect on community and in particular with this corruption, its effect on the environment.  If a company registered or based in the UK engages in bribery of foreign officials it tarnishes the reputation of this country in the international arena.”

Concerning the sentencing of Dr Turner, the Judge also said:

“It is necessary to give encouragement to those involved in serious crime to cooperate with authorities.  You [Dr Turner] very narrowly indeed escaped going to prison.”

David Green CB QC, Director of the SFO said:

“This successful conclusion to a long-running investigation demonstrates the SFO’s ability and determination to bring corporate criminals to justice.”

Innospec itself pleaded guilty in March 2010 to bribing state officials in Indonesia and was fined $12.7 million in England with additional penalties being imposed in the USA.

Dr Turner was also ordered to pay £10,000 towards prosecution costs and Mr Jennings was ordered to pay £5000 towards these costs.  Dr Turner and Mr Jennings have already been subject to disgorgement of benefit by the US Securities and Exchange Commission.  The matter of costs for Mr Kerrison and Dr Papachristos has been adjourned pending the hearing of confiscation proceedings against them.”

For more on the sentences, see here from

Reading Stack

Professor Stephen Bainbridge knows Delaware corporate law and related corporate governance issues as well as anyone.  In regards to the Wal-Mart Delaware action (see here for the prior post noting that despite the hype, the decision was much to do about little), Professor Bainbridge writes:

“There’s been a fair bit of blawgosphere chatter about [the Wal-Mart Delaware action].”  […]  Personally, it just doesn’t seem that big a deal. Somebody want to explain to me why I should care more?”



Sometimes a suitable proxy for potential red flags may be whether, upon reading a certain set of facts and circumstances, one becomes dizzy.  This recent New York Times article regarding former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair may make you dizzy.


A good weekend to all.

Friday Roundup

Add two more companies to the list, a reply to a retort, Avon developments, Total S.A. perhaps nears a top-5 settlement, the reason for those empty Olympic seats, another FCPA-inspired derivative action is dismissed, Sensata Technologies and more on the meaning of “declination,” one of my favorite reads and additional material for the weekend reading stack.  It’s all here in the Friday roundup.

Recent Disclosures

As noted in this Wall Street Journal Corruption Currents post “German healthcare firm Fresenius Medical Care AG has opened an internal investigation into potential violations” of the FCPA.  The company’s recent SEC filing (here) states as follows.

“The Company has received communications alleging certain conduct that may violate the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) and other anti-bribery laws. In response to the allegations, the Audit and Corporate Governance Committee of the Company’s Supervisory Board is conducting an internal review with the assistance of counsel retained for such purpose. The Company has voluntarily advised the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice that allegations have been made and of the Company’s internal review. The Company is fully committed to FCPA compliance. It cannot predict the outcome of its review.”

In addition, as noted in this Wall Street Journal Corruption Currents post, “the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd, the world’s largest manufacturer of generic drugs, for possible violations” of the FCPA.   The Israel based company recently stated in an SEC filing (here) as follows.

“Teva received a subpoena dated July 9, 2012 from the SEC to produce documents with respect to compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practice Act (“FCPA”) in Latin America. Teva is cooperating with the government. Teva is also conducting a voluntary investigation into certain business practices which may have FCPA implications and has engaged independent counsel to assist in its investigation. These matters are in their early stages and no conclusion can be drawn at this time as to any likely outcomes.”


In this previous post, I discussed my letter to the U.K. Ministry of Justice urging the MoJ to just say no to deferred prosecution agreements.  Over at (a site that has lead discussion of the issue) the authors disagree with me (see here).  That’s all fine and dandy and healthy to the discussion, but the substance of the retort is not persuasive.

The retort is  basically that the SFO “frequently has to fight its corner in court” and that “sometimes it loses” whereas in the U.S. “the accepted wisdom [is] that an FCPA investigation would result in a corporate settlement” and the “DOJ simply [does] not have to test its legal theories in court.”  In short, the authors state “statistically in the US corporates and their counsel often fold in the face of a DOJ investigation” but “in the UK this is not so.”

Contrary to the suggestion in the retort, I did not ignore the Bribery Act’s Section 7 offense – rather it is all the more reason to reject DPAs.

The retort closes as follows.  “Sadly, as it stands, the UK enforcement agencies do not have equality of arms when it comes to their enforcement toolkit.  Put another way the DOJ can end run UK enforcement agencies because it does have the potential to enter into DPA’s.  This reason alone is justification enough for putting in place a system which delivers a similar result to the US system.”

This confirms in my mind that the UK’s desire for DPAs has little to do with justice and deterring improper conduct, but more to do with enforcement statistics and posturing in an emerging “global arms race” when it comes to “prosecuting” corruption and bribery offenses.

Avon Developments

Avon was in the news quite a bit this week.

On Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported (here) that “federal prosecutors looking into possible bribery of foreign officials by Avon have asked to speak to Andrea Jung, the former chief executive and current full-time chairman.”

On Wednesday, the company filed its quarterly report and stated, among other things, as follows.  “We are in discussions with the SEC and DOJ regarding mutually resolving the government investigations. There can be no assurance that a settlement will be reached or, if a settlement is reached, the timing of any such settlement or that the terms of any such settlement would not have a material adverse effect on us.”  During the Q2 earnings call, company CEO Sheri McCoy stated as follows.   “We are in discussion with the SEC and DOJ regarding mutually resolving the government investigations.”

On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reported (here) that McCoy “frustrated with the pace of Avon’s internal probe, has pushed to bring in a second law firm for advice on the progress of the investigation.   The company has held discussions with law firm Allen & Overy LLP for that role.”  Arnold & Porter has been leading Avon’s investigation.  According to the article, Avon’s “probe has turned up millions of dollars of payments in Brazil and France made to consultants hired to assist with Avon’s tax bills in those countries.”

What to make of the above information?

It is unusual for the enforcement agencies to want to speak to a former CEO and current chairman in connection with an FCPA inquiry.  But then again, prosecutors have reportedly spoken to several other Avon executives in connection with the probe.  Given Avon’s disclosure that it has begun settlement discussions, this would suggest that the factual portion of the enforcement agencies investigation is over.

Avon’s FCPA scrutiny has perhaps been most notable for the amount of pre-enforcement action professional fees and expenses – approximately $280 million.  Thus, yesterday’s report that the company is considering bringing in a second law firm nearly four years into the investigation is interesting and unusual.

Even though Avon has disclosed it is in settlement talks, an enforcement action in 2012 is not certain.  In many cases, companies have disclosed the existence of FCPA settlement discussions, but the actual enforcement action did not happen for 6-12 months (or longer).

Whenever the enforcement action occurs, and whatever the ultimate fine and penalty is, Avon’s greatest financial hit  has likely already occured – its pre-enforcement action professional fees and expenses.  For instance, assuming a settlement amount would match the $280 million, this would be the sixth largest FCPA settlement of all time, and none of the enforcement actions in the top 5 were outside the context of foreign “government” procurement.

Total Settlement Near?

For some time, there has been speculation that Total S.A. (you better sit down for this) would actually mount a defense and put the DOJ and SEC to its burden of proof in an enforcement action.  Information in a recent company press release suggests that this is unlikely to occur.  In this recent release, Total stated as follows.  “Total has been cooperating with the … SEC and DOJ in connection with an investigation concerning gas contracts awarded in Iran in the 1990’s.  Total, the SEC, and the DOJ have conducted discussions to resolve issues arising from the investigation.  In light of recent progess in these discussions, Total has provisioned 316 million euros [$389 million]  in its accounts in the second quarter of 2012.”

A $389 million settlement would be a top five FCPA settlement in terms of fine and penalty amounts.  For additional coverage, see here from Reuters.

Empty Olympic Seats

A reason, perhaps, for those empty Olympic seats?  According to a recent study (see here) by the Society for Corporate Compliance and Ethics  “tighter than anticipated corporate entertainment and gift policies.”

Smith & Wesson Derivative Action Dismissed

Even against the backdrop of generally frivolous plaintiff derivative claims in the FCPA context, the action against Smith & Wesson (“S&W”) stood out.  After S&W employee Amaro Goncalves was criminally indicted in the manufactured Africa Sting case, certain investors filed a derivative claim in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts suing members of the board of S&W and company officers derivatively on behalf of the corporation for failing to have effective FCPA controls and oversight, thereby breaching their duty of care.

In dismissing the complaint (see here for the decision) Judge Michael Ponsor characterized the complaint as follows. “[I]n essence, that the company enjoyed an increase in international sales and then had an employee indicted for FCPA violations. This indictment, later dropped, supposedly evidenced a failure to implement proper controls.”

For another recent dismissal of an FCPA inspired derivative claim against Tidewater, see this prior post.  See also this recent post from Kevin LaCroix at The D&O Diary blog.

Sensata Technologies

In October 2010, Sensata Technologies disclosed in a quarterly report (here) as follows.

“An internal investigation has been conducted under the direction of the Audit Committee of the Company’s Board of Directors to determine whether any laws, including the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”), may have been violated in connection with a certain business relationship entered into by one of the Company’s operating subsidiaries involving business in China. The Company believes the amount of payments and the business involved was immaterial. The Company discontinued the specific business relationship and its investigation has not identified any other suspect transactions. The Company has contacted the United States Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission to begin the process of making a voluntary disclosure of the possible violations, the investigation, and the initial findings. The Company will cooperate fully with their review.”

In its most recent quarterly report (here), the company disclosed as follows.

“During 2012, the DOJ informed us that it has closed its inquiry into the matter but indicated that it could reopen its inquiry in the future in the event it were to receive additional information or evidence. We have not received an update from the SEC concerning the status of its inquiry.”

Did Sensata “win a declination” as the FCPA Blog suggested here?

Since August 2010 (see here for the prior post) I have proposed that when a company voluntarily discloses an FCPA internal investigation to the DOJ and the SEC, and when the DOJ and/or SEC decline enforcement, the DOJ and/or the SEC should publicly state, in a thorough and transparent manner, the facts the company disclosed to the agencies and why the agencies declined enforcement on those facts.

Perhaps then we would know if the DOJ concluded it could prove beyond a reasonable doubt all the necessary elements of an FCPA charge, yet decided not to pursue Sensata – which is my definition of declination as noted in this prior post.  Anything else, is what the law commands, not a declination.

Favorite Read

One of my favorite reads is always Shearman & Sterling’s “Recent Trends and Patterns in the Enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.”  See here for the most recent edition.

As to “foreign official,” the report states as follows. “[T]he government does not appear to have been deterred by the [foreign official] debate. In most of the cases brought in 2012, the relevant government officials were employed by “instrumentalities” such as state health insurance plans (Orthofix), a state-owned nuclear plant (Data Systems & Solutions), government hospitals (Biomet and Smith & Nephew), a state-owned real estate development company (Peterson) a state-owned oil company (Marubeni), and state-owned airlines (NORDAM).”

As to FCPA guidance, the report states as follows. “We understand that this guidance will be issued before October, when the US is scheduled to issue a written progress report on its implementation of the OECD Working Group on Bribery’s recommendations.”

A final kudos – Shearman & Sterling keeps its FCPA enforcement statistics the best way.  As it explains – “we count all actions against a corporate “family” as one action. Thus, if the DOJ charges a subsidiary and the SEC charges a parent issuer, that counts as one action.”  This is consistent with my “core” approach (see here), but unlike many others in the industry.

Weekend Reading Stack

An interesting and informative article (here) in Fortune about the Alba-Alcoa tussle and the role of Victor Dahdaleh.  For more on the underlying civil suit between Alba and Alcoa see this recent Wall Street Journal Corruption Currents post.

SOX’s executive certification requirements were supposed to be a panacea for corporate fraud.  It has not happened.  See here from Alison Frankel (Reuters) and here from Michael Rapoport (Wall Street Journal).  As noted in this prior post concerning the Paul Jennings (former CFO and CEO of Innospec) enforcement action, SOX certification charges were among the charges the SEC filed against Jennings.  Then SEC FCPA Unit Chief Cheryl Scarboro stated, “we will vigorously hold accountable those who approve such bribery and who sign false SOX certifications and other documents to cover up the wrongdoing.”  Speaking of Jennings, as noted in this recent U.K. Serious Fraud Office, Jennings recently pleaded guilty to one charge of conspiracy to corrupt Iraqi public officials and other agents of the Government of Iraq.


A good weekend to all.

Friday Roundup

Checking in on Wal-Mart, an enforcement action that flew under the radar from beginning to end, a guilty plea in the U.K., and is sex a thing of value?  It’s all here in the Friday roundup.


Various reports this week reported on the expansion of Wal-Mart’s FCPA probe.  As many readers know, this is hardly surprising as most FCPA inquiries result in the “where else” question as indicated in this prior guest post.  Even if the enforcement agencies do not actually ask the “where else” question, a company knows it will eventually be asked and will thus likely conduct a broader review of certain other FCPA high-risk jurisdictions not part of the original inquiry on its own initiative and to demonstrate to the enforcement agencies its committment to compliance and its cooperation.

This June 12th letter from Elijah Cummings (D-MD, Ranking Member, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform) and Henry Waxman (D-CA, Ranking Member, House Committee on Energy and Commerce)  to Wal-Mart CEO Michael Dukes references that Wal-Mart’s review has expanded beyond Mexico to also include Brazil, China, South Africa and India.  Indeed, the letter references that Wal-Mart is “conducting a worldwide assessment of the company’s anti-corruption policies” something Wal-Mart indicated it was already doing.  In short, Wal-Mart’s FCPA inquiry is following a typical path.

In the letter, Cummings and Waxman again express disappointment as to Wal-Mart’s cooperation in their own Congressional probe.  For more on Cummings and Waxman’s interest in Wal-Mart, see this prior post (and links therein).

Meanwhile on the civil litigation front, a 12th lawsuit has been filed in the wake of April’s New York Times story.  As noted in this release from the New York City Comptroller, New York City Pension Funds filed a shareholder derivative action in the Delaware Chancery Court alleging “that  Wal-Mart’s officers and directors breached their fiduciary duty to the company  and its shareholders by failing to properly handle credible claims of the  bribery allegations and attempting to cover up details of the  scandal.”

Under the Radar

This post from March 2011 highlighted how criminal charges against Manual Salvoch flew under the radar in that the DOJ did not issue a press release announcing the charges and the enforcement action appeared to escape coverage elsewhere.  Salvoch is the former CFO of LatiNode and was charged in connection with payments to Hondutel (see here – according to the charging documents a state-owned telecommunications company in Honduras responsible for providing telecommunications services in Honduras). The Hondutel payments also resulted in criminal charges against Jorge Granados (the founder and former CEO and Chairman of the Board of LatiNode), Manuel Caceres (a former Vice President of Business Development) and Juan Vasquez (a former senior commercial executive).

This prior post highlights the sentences of Granados, Caceres and Vasquez.

Last week, Salvoch was sentenced by Judge Paul Huck (S.D. of Florida) t0 10 months in prison and 3 years of supervised release.  Just like the beginning, the end of the Salvoch enforcement action also flew under the radar.

The final sentencing scorecard in the LatiNode individual prosecutions is thus as follows.

Granados – 46 months

Caceres – 23 months

Vasequez – 3 years probation

Salvoch – 10 months.

U.K. Plea

Previous posts (here and here) discussed charges on both sides of the Atlantic against Paul Jennings, the former CEO of Innospec.  Earlier this week, the U.K. Serious Fraud Office announced (here) that Jennings pleaded guilty to the following charges:  “Two allegations of conspiracy to corrupt in that he gave or agreed to give corrupt payments to public officials and other agents of the Government of Indonesia (between 14 February 2002 and 31 December 2008) and Iraq (between 1 January 2003 and 31 January 2008) as inducements to secure, or as rewards for having secured, contracts from that Government for the supply of its products including Tetraethyl Lead by Innospec.”

As noted in this previous post, in March 2010, Innospec resolved enforcement actions on both sides of the Atlantic based on the same core set of facts.

Thing of Value?

At its core, the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions require “anything of value” to a “foreign official” to “obtain or retain business.”

This recent Reuters story concerning an employee of Oracle’s business unit in Singapore has a “foreign official” (the former head of the city-state’s anti-narcotics agency) and the article describes that the thing of value was provided to the “foreign official” as “an inducement to help further the firm’s business interest.”

The thing of value?


Can sex be a thing of value under the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions?  I guess it depends, it’s a factual issue.

On that note, a good weekend to all.

A Dialogue Worth Having

This previous post discussed U.K. plans to introduce U.S.-style corporate plea bargains, including deferred prosecution agreements. Among other things, the post mentioned an October 17th meeting with U.K. prosecutors at Pinset Mason’s London office. summarizes the meeting and nicely frames the issues  here and here.    The post states as follows.  “We think that the need for DPA legislation is obvious. Its absence has often been remarked upon by the Director of the SFO and for very good reason. It is a serious hole in the UK law. Its absence has a chilling effect on the attempts to ensure that ethical attitudes become a permanent feature of corporate life in all companies, be they International, SME or small.”

Others have shared their views on whether the U.K. should adopt U.S. style alternative resolution vehicles and, if so, how.

Thomas Fox at the FCPA Compliance and Ethics Blog (here) believes “that the ability to enter into a DPA is a powerful tool that advances the interests of prosecutors, the judiciary and the public.”  Fox states that “the primary reason for both the prosecution and a company which violates the Bribery Act entering into a DPA is certainty.”

Ross Parlane of McGuire Woods writing at The Bribery Library (here)  states as follows.  “There are a number of benefits to be gained from giving UK prosecutors the power to negotiate DPAs.  Certainly the cost and time involved in investigating offences would be significantly reduced, which is good news for the public purse.  Further, a well negotiated DPA that gives proper attention to remediation (e.g. through monitoring) as well as to punishment, has the potential to effect a permanent positive change in the culture of an organisation.”  Yet Parlane states (and identifies) that “there are a number of tricky issues that need to be resolved before the use of deferred prosecution agreements can be adopted in the the U.K.”

Michael Volkov, writing at (here) notes that “for UK policymakers, the balance between judicial review and prosecutorial discretion is one which has to be resolved before any new policy can be enacted.”

Let me contribute to the dialogue by posing this question.  Why does a law with an adequate procedures defense require the third option of a deferred prosecution agreement – the first two options being prosecute vs. not prosecute?

If a corporate has adequate procedures, but an isolated act of bribery nevertheless occurs within its organization, the corporate presumably would not face prosecution under the Bribery Act.  Seems like a reasonable result.  In other words, no need for the third option in such a case.

On the other hand, if a corporate does not have adequate procedures (i.e. has no committment to anti-bribery compliance) and an act of bribery occurs within its organization, it presumably would face prosecution under the Bribery Act.  Seems like a reasonable result.  Does a third option really need to be created for corporates who do not implement adequate procedures?

Because the FCPA does not have an adequate procedures / compliance defense (at least not yet), the same analysis does not apply.


In other recent U.K. developments, last week the SFO announced (here) that two former Innospec executives were charged.  Dennis Kerrison, the former CEO of Innospec Ltd., was charged with “an allegation of conspiracy to corrupt, in that he gave or agreed to give corrupt payments to public officials and other agents of the Government of Indonesia as inducements to secure, or as rewards for having secured, contracts from the Government of Indonesia.”  Paul Jennings, the former CEO of Innospec, is accused of “two allegations of conspiracy to corrupt, in that he gave or agreed to give corrupt payments to public officials and other agents of the Governments of Indonesia and Iraq as inducements to secure, or as rewards for having secured, contracts from those Governments.”

Earlier in the week, the SFO also announced (here) that David Turner, a former business unit director of Innospec Ltd., was charged with “alleged offenses of conspiring to make corrupt payments to public officials in Indonesia and Iraq to secure contracts for Innospec Ltd. for the supply of its products.”

Both Jennings (here for the prior post) and Turner (here for the prior post) previously settled SEC FCPA enforcement actions based on the same core set of conduct.

As with the SFO’s  recent case against Victor Dahdaleh (see here for the prior post), the recent Innospec related enforcement actions are not Bribery Act enforcement actions.


Sure, it’s Halloween and all, but the FCPA reform debate (see here) is getting a little silly don’t you think?

First Enforcement Action of 2011 Involves a Former Executive Officer

In March 2010, Innospec Inc. was charged on both sides of the Atlantic in a joint DOJ / SEC / U.K. Serious Fraud Office enforcement action. (See here and here).

In August 2010, the SEC charged David Turner, the Business Director of Innospec’s TEL Group, and Ousama Naaman, the company’s agent, for their role in the bribery scheme. (See here). Naaman was also charged by the DOJ, pleaded guilty, and awaits sentencing. (See here).

Yesterday, in the first FCPA enforcement action of the year, the SEC charged Paul Jennings, Innospec’s former CFO and CEO, for his involvement in the bribery scheme. (See here). Jennings resigned from Innospec in March 2009 (see here).

Jennings name is now included on a rather short list of high-ranking executives of public companies (or affiliates) recently charged by the SEC in an FCPA enforcement action. In July 2009, Douglas Faggioli (the current President and CEO) and Craig Huff (the former CFO) of Nature’s Sunshine Products were charged (see here); in September 2008, Albert Jackson Stanley (the former CEO of Kellogg Brown & Root Inc.) was charged (see here); in December 2007, Robert Philip (the former Chairman/CEO of Schnitzer Steel was charged (see here); and in September 2007, Monty Fu (the former Chairman of Syncor International Corp. was charged (see here).

The facts of the underlying bribery scheme in the Jennings enforcement action are detailed in the prior posts linked above and this post details the allegations in the SEC’s complaint (here) regarding Jennings knowledge and involvement in the scheme.

In summary fashion, the complaint alleges as follows:

“This action arises from widespread bribery of foreign officials by Innospec, Inc., some of which occurred and was approved by Paul W. Jennings beginning in mid to late 2004 during his tenure as Chief Financial Officer (“CFO”) and continuing after he became Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”) in 2005.”

“Beginning in mid to late 2004, Jennings, who held various senior roles at Innospec, including CFO and CEO, actively participated in the bribery schemes in Iraq and Indonesia.”

“Jennings violated [the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions] by engaging in widespread bribery of government officials in Iraq during the post-Oil for Food period in order to sell TEL to the Iraqi Ministry of Oil (“MoO”) and by engaging in bribery of Indonesian officials to sell TEL to state owned oil companies in Indonesia. Jennings aided and abetted Innospec’s violations of [the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions] by substantially assisting in Innospec’s bribery of Iraqi and Indonesian government officials.”

“Innospec, a U.S. issuer, made use of U.S. mails and interstate commerce to carry out the scheme, and Jennings, a dual U.S. and U.K. national was complicit in the scheme. Jennings both sent and received e-mails to and from the United States to carry out the scheme. He also used interstate commerce and the mails as part of the scheme. Jennings obtained $116,092 in bonuses that were tied to the success of the TEL sales, which were procured through bribery.”

“Jennings also violated Section13(b)(5)of the Exchange Act and Rule 13b2-1 thereunder by falsifying documents as part of the bribery scheme. Jennings also violated Exchange Act Rule 13b2-2 by making false statements to accountants and violated Exchange Act Rule 13a-14 by signing false personal certifications required by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 that were attached to annual and quarterly Innospec public filings.”

“Jennings also aided and abetted Innospec’s violations of [the FCPA’s books and records and internal control provisions] by substantially assisting in Innospec’s failure to maintain internal controls to detect and prevent bribery of officials in Iraq and Indonesia, and the improper recording of the illicit payments in Innospec’s books and records.”

According to the SEC, “beginning in 2005, Jennings, along with other members of Innospec’s management, approved bribery payments to officials at the Iraqi Ministry of Oil in order to sell TEL to Iraq. The complaint alleges that Innospec, with the approval of Jennings, used Naaman as its agent in Iraq to make improper payments and the complaint alleges that Jennings was copied on certain e-mails between Naaman and Turner discussing the bribery scheme. The complaint further alleges that Jennings approved certain payments to Naaman to facilitate the bribery scheme including certain payments Jennings approved “while in the United States.” Many of the SEC’s allegations as to the Iraqi conduct are phrased as Jennings had “general knowledge” or that Jennings was “generally aware” of the conduct at issue.

As to Indonesian payments, the complaint alleges that “Jennings became aware of and approved the improper payments to Indonesian government officials in order to win contracts for the sale of TEL to state owned oil and gas companies. Among other allegations, the complaint alleges that “in December 2004, Jennings and Executive B [the CEO of Innospec from 1998 to April 2005] discussed Innospec’s bribery scheme in Iraq and Indonesia on a flight from Denver to New York” and that “while Indonesian Agent was in the United States during the holidays, various e-mails were sent to and from the United States that discussed Jennings’ and Turner’s continued efforts to support Indonesian Agent’s payment of bribes on Innospec’s behalf.” The SEC also alleges that the “bribery scheme” was also discussed “during Jennings’ performance review in January 2005.”

As to Jennings false certifications, the complaint alleges as follows.

“From 2004 to February 2009, Jennings signed annual certifications that were provided to auditors where he falsely stated that he complied with Innospec’s Code of Ethics incorporating the company’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act policy, and that he was unaware of any violations of the Code of Ethics by anyone else. During that time frame, Jennings actively participated in bribery of Iraqi and Indonesian officials as described above. Jennings also signed annual and quarterly personal certifications pursuant to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 in which Jennings made false certifications concerning the company’s books and records and internal controls. Jennings also signed false management certifications to Innospec’s auditors indicating that the books and records were accurate and that Innospec had appropriate internal controls.”

As noted in the SEC release, without admitting or denying the SEC’s allegations, Jennings agreed to disgorge $116,092 plus prejudgment interest of $12,945 and pay a civil penalty of $100,000. The SEC stated that the figures take into consideration Jennings’s cooperation in this matter.

In the release, Cheryl Scarboro (Chief of the SEC’s FCPA Unit) stated, “we will vigorously hold accountable those who approve such bribery and who sign false SOX certifications and other documents to cover up the wrongdoing.”

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