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Customs Issues In Argentina Result In FCPA Enforcement Action Against BJ Services

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

In 2004, the SEC brought this administrative cease and desist order against BJ Services (a Houston-based oil field services, products, and equipment company). The conduct at issue focused on the company’s Argentina subsidiary and its relationships with customs officials. As stated in the SEC’s order, there was no indication that anyone employed by BJ Services approved many of the alleged improper payments and the SEC further acknowledged that the improper payments were made in violation of BJ Services’ existing policies prohibiting payments of the kind made to the customs official.

Other interesting aspects of the enforcement include the following: (i) certain of the improper payments were facilitated by the Argentina subsidiary issuing checks “in the name of a lower’level” employee who then “cashed the checks and provided the proceeds to the customs official”; (ii) the SEC seemed to acknowledge that certain of the payments were facilitation payments under the FCPA, but nevertheless improperly booked, and thus still actionable.

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Jay Jorgensen On Walmart’s Enhanced Ethics & Compliance Program

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Recently Jay Jorgensen (Walmart Executive V.P. and Global Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer) delivered a keynote address at The FCPA at 40 symposium hosted by Texas A&M University School of Law on October 12th.

Portions of Jorgensen’s address are published below with permission. Jorgensen’s entire keynote address will be published in a forthcoming issue of the Texas A&M Law Review. In the excerpted portion, Jorgensen talks about the transformation of Walmart’s ethics and compliance program with a focus on anti-corruption. Specifically, Jorgensen discusses Walmart’s approach to: third-party due diligence and payments; licenses and permits; donations and charitable contributions; financial controls; and enhanced training.

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The Chiquita Enforcement Action – A Bunch Of Bananas With A Slippery Origin

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

If you think strict liability enforcement of the FCPA books and records and internal controls provisions is a recent invention, think again.

If you think off-the-rails FCPA enforcement (that is enforcement theories seemingly in conflict with actual legal authority) is a recent invention, think again.

A dubious FCPA enforcement action occurred in 2001 when the SEC announced this administrative cease and desist order finding that Chiquita Brands International Inc. violated the books and records and internal controls provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

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Friday Roundup

Roundup

Quotable, no reliable way to measure, Microsoft explains, scrutiny alert, a direct selling license in China, and offensive use of the FCPA. It’s all here in the Friday roundup.

Quotable

Some think – or at least I’ve been told – that certain of my Foreign Corrupt Practices Act views are controversial or out of the “main stream” (whatever the “main stream” actually is or means). Yet, I am confident that much of what I write and talk about represents silent majority views.

Indeed, as I’ve commented before, one of the interesting things about writing about the FCPA and related issues on a daily basis is that often I just need to wait for a former FCPA enforcement official to say the same thing. 

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A Case Study In Risk Aversion Or What Happens When Defendants Fight Back

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

Previous posts here and here highlighted the 2001 DOJ/SEC FCPA enforcement action against KPMG Siddharta Siddharta & Harsono (KPMG-SSH) and Sonny Harsono and Baker Hughes regarding alleged improper payments in connection with an Indonesia tax assessment. All of the defendants resolved the enforcement actions without putting the DOJ/SEC to its burden of proof (the risk aversion portion of this post).

However, also in 2001 the SEC charged Eric Mattson (the former CFO of Baker Hughes) and James Harris (the former Controller of Baker Hughes) with Foreign Corrupt Practices Act offenses based on the same substantive allegations. Unlike the other defendants, as highlighted in this post, Mattson and Harris fought back – a process that resulted in a federal court judge dismissing the FCPA charges against them.

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