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Former Och-Ziff Executives To Mount A Defense Against SEC’s FCPA (And Related) Claims

cohen

I am not suggesting that the following is a very meaningful statistic, but it is a fact: there has been more FCPA enforcement in the first week of the Trump administration than the first week of the Obama administration.

But then again “assigning” to the Trump administration yesterday’s SEC enforcement action against Michael Cohen (pictured) and Vanja Baros (former Och-Ziff executives) based on the same core conduct as the DOJ and SEC’s September 2016 enforcement action against Och-Ziff is foolish just as it is foolish to “assign” FCPA enforcement in the first months (indeed the first year) of the Obama administration to the Obama Administration.

Yesterday’s enforcement action is not surprising as it was fairly obvious (as detailed in this prior post) that the main actors in the Och-Ziff matter were Cohen and Baros (even though not specifically named in the September 2016 resolution documents).

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Another Week, Another Repeat FCPA Offender As Orthofix International Joins The Club

Orthofix

In 2012, Orthofix International N.V. (“Orthofix”), a limited liability orthopedic medical device company formed under the law of Netherlands Antilles with administrative offices in Lewisville, Texas and common stock traded on Nasdaq, resolved a $7.4 million Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action ($2.2 million via a DOJ deferred prosecution agreement, and $5.2 million via a settled SEC civil complaint) based primarily on the conduct of its wholly-owned Mexican subsidiary.

In an enforcement action that was expected (see here for the August 2016 post highlighting how Orthofix International was poised to join the FCPA repeat offender club), the SEC announced yesterday that the company agreed to pay $6 million in disgorgement and penalties to settle FCPA books and records and internal controls findings “when its subsidiary in Brazil schemed to use high discounts and make improper payments through third-party commercial representatives and distributors to induce doctors under government employment to use Orthofix’s products.”

This is the second instance in the past week of a company resolving a second FCPA enforcement action in the span of approximately five years (see here for the prior post regarding Zimmer Biomet).

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No U.S. Nexus, No Problem As U.S. Brings $30.5 Million FCPA Enforcement Action Against Chilean Company In Relation To Its Conduct With Chilean Officials

SQM

Last week the DOJ and SEC announced (here and here) a $30.5 million Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action against Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile S.A. (SQM), a chemical and mining company based in Chile, in relation to its conduct with Chilean officials.

The enforcement action is rife with policy issues including the proper scope of FCPA enforcement given that there is no U.S. nexus alleged other than SQM having Series B shares, a form of American Depository Shares, listed on the New York Stock Exchange and thus being required to file periodic reports with the SEC.

The enforcement action included: (i) a DOJ criminal information charging SQM with violating the FCPA’s books and records and internal control provisions that was resolved via a deferred prosecution agreement in which the company agreed to pay a $15.5 million criminal penalty; and (ii) an SEC administrative order finding FCPA books and records and internal violations in which the company agreed to pay $15 million civil penalty.

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Biomet Becomes An FCPA Repeat Offender

zimmer

For many years, the DOJ has advanced the policy position that DPAs and NPAs “have had a truly transformative effect on particular companies and, more generally, on corporate culture across the globe.” (See here for the prior post). Specifically in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act context, the DOJ has stated that “the companies against which DPAs and NPAs have been brought have often undergone dramatic changes.”  (See here for the prior post).

As highlighted here, in March 2012 Biomet resolved an FCPA enforcement action involving alleged conduct in Brazil, Argentina, and China by agreeing to pay approximately $22.8 million ($17.3 million via a DOJ deferred prosecution agreement, and $5.5 million via a settled SEC civil complaint).

Since then, FCPA Professor has chronicled (herehere and here) how Biomet’s DPA was extended, how the DOJ ultimately came to conclude that Biomet had breached its DPA based on subsequent improper conduct, and how an additional FCPA enforcement was expected.

Last week, the DOJ and SEC announced (here and here) the additional FCPA enforcement action against Zimmer Biomet Holdings (in 2015 Zimmer Holdings acquired Biomet) and Biomet. As highlighted below, a portion of the improper conduct involved the same distributor in Brazil that gave rise to the 2012 FCPA enforcement action.

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The First FCPA Enforcement Action Of 2017 Is A $13 Million Joke

mondelez

On Friday, the SEC announced the first Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action of 2017 against Mondelēz International, Inc.

The basic findings in this short administrative action are the following: (i) in February 2010, Kraft Foods (which re-named itself Mondelez International in 2012) acquired Cadbury (a U.K.-based confectionary and snack beverage company that had securities registered with the SEC) and its subsidiaries, including Cadbury India; (ii) in early 2010 Cadbury India retained an agent to interact with Indian government officials to obtain licenses and approvals for a chocolate factory; (iii) Cadbury India failed to conduct appropriate due diligence on and monitor the activities of the agent which “created the risk” that funds paid to the agent (approximately $100,000) could be used for improper or unauthorized purposes and (iv) Cadbury’s India’s books and records did not accurately and fairly reflect the natures of the services rendered by the agent.

Without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings, Mondelez agreed to pay a $13 million civil penalty.

This enforcement action is a complete joke (as is the fact that the scrutiny began in February 2011).

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