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Development From The “Other Universe” – In Dismissing FCPA-Related Civil Claims, Judge Rejects The Notion That The FCPA “Establishes A Statutory Floor For Adequate Internal Controls”

parallel universe

Foreign Corrupt Practices Act issues often co-exist in two parallel universes.

One universe is ruled by perceived all-powerful gods with big and sharp sticks in which subjects dare challenge the gods. Another universe consists of checks and balances in which independent actors call the balls and strikes.

The first universe refers to FCPA enforcement by the DOJ and SEC. The second universe refers to litigation of FCPA-related claims in which judges make decisions in the context of an adversarial legal system. This second universe is often referred to as the rule of law universe.

There are several examples of theories used in the first universe that do not work in the second universe.

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Friday Roundup

Roundup

Mebiame sentenced, a multi-billion dollar settlement in Brazil, remember that, and for the reading stack. It’s all here in the Friday roundup.

Mebiame Sentenced

As highlighted in this prior 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 connection with African mining projects. In December 2016, Mebiame pleaded guilty. (See here).

Earlier this week, the DOJ announced that Mebiame was sentenced to 24 months in prison.

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Checking In On The Wal-Mart FCPA-Related Securities Fraud Action

Wal-Mart

As highlighted in this October 2014 post, a securities fraud class action against Wal-Mart and certain former executives in connection with its Foreign Corrupt Practices Act scrutiny made it past the motion to dismiss stage.

It is unusual for such claims to proceed to trial and the Wal-Mart action, if it follows the typical path, is unlikely to proceed to trial.

Yet this post highlights two pre-trial developments in the case. The first concerns the judge granting plaintiffs access to certain internal documents and thus denying Wal-Mart’s claim that such documents were covered by the attorney-client privilege or work product doctrine. The second concerns the judge granting plaintiffs the ability to depose Wal-Mart’s current CEO.

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Scrutiny Alerts and Updates

scrutiny alert

Late April or early May is when foreign issuers tend to file Form 20-F’s with the SEC and as highlighted in this post several foreign issuers from Brazil, Peru, the U.K. and South Korea disclosed Foreign Corrupt Practices Act scrutiny.

But first, Cognizant Technology Solutions appears to continue to “boil the ocean” in terms of pre-enforcement action professional fees and expenses and Misonix is hit with a civil lawsuit connected to its FCPA scrutiny.

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Defamation Claim Advances By Former Biomet Argentina Employee Against Zimmer Biomet Holdings

zimmer

Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement actions rarely tell the whole story about the facts and circumstances relevant to the underlying action. Thus, it is nice (from the perspective of getting a more complete alleged picture including specific names relevant to an FCPA enforcement action) when civil litigation is filed in connection with an FCPA enforcement action.

Such is the case regarding a recent civil action filed by Alejandro Yeatts, who from 2005 to September 2015 was employed by Biomet Argentina, in which he alleges various tort claims against Zimmer Biomet Holdings. Although the court recently dismissed Yeatts’s intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress claims, the court denied Zimmer’s motion to dismiss Yeatts’s defamation claim meaning the claim will advance to the next stage in litigation.

This post summarizes Yeatts’s defamation claim and the court’s recent decision (Yeatts v. Zimmer Biomet Holdings, 2017 WL 1375117 (N.D. Ind., Apr. 17, 2017).

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