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Next Up – MTS Resolves $850 Million FCPA Enforcement Action

mts

First it was Netherlands-based VimpelCom which resolved a net $398 million FCPA enforcement action in February 2016 for bribing an alleged Uzbekistan telecom official (see here and here for prior posts).

Then it was Sweden-based Telia which resolved a net $483 million FCPA enforcement action in September 2017 based on the same alleged core conduct. (see here and here for prior posts).

Recently, the SEC and DOJ announced (see here and here) that Russia-based Mobile TeleSystems PJSC (MTS) agreed to resolve an $850 million DOJ/SEC FCPA enforcement action based on the same alleged core conduct. This is the largest settlement amount in an FCPA enforcement action in history. (See here for a list of the top ten corporate enforcement actions).

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Polycom Resolves A $36.6 Million Enforcement Action – SEC Believes That The FCPA Is A Strict Liability Statute And Just What Viable Criminal Charges Did The DOJ Decline?

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Earlier this week, Polycom (up until 2016 an issuer which was then acquired by a private equity firm and is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Plantronics) resolved a $36.6 million Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action ($16.3 million pursuant to an SEC administrative order and $20.3 million pursuant to a so-called DOJ declination with disgorgement letter).

The conduct at issue concerned a Chinese subsidiary which created “a separate, parallel sales management system outside of Polycom’s company-approved systems, which was orchestrated by Polycom’s Vice President of China” and whose employees used “non-Polycom e-mail addresses when discussing deals with Polycom’s distributor.” According to the SEC, “Polycom personnel outside China were unaware of the existence of this parallel system.”

Yet, in another example of the SEC believing that the FCPA is a strict liability statute, the SEC found that Polycom violated the FCPA’s books and records and internal controls provisions. Moreover, without highlighting any additional substantive information the DOJ “declined prosecution … despite the bribery committed by employees of the Company’s subsidiaries in China, and these subsidiaries’ knowing and willful causing of false books and records at Polycom.” However, based on the information in the public domain (that is the SEC’s order) it remains an open question just what viable criminal charges the DOJ actually declined.

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DOJ Announces Individual FCPA And Related Enforcement Action In Connection With Aruba Telecom Scheme

setar

It’s not every day that the DOJ announces a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement casually in a press release about another enforcement action, but that is what the DOJ did today in this release announcing that Egbert Yvan Ferdinand Koolman (a Dutch citizen residing in Miami, Florida who was an official of Servicio di Telecommunicacion di Aruba N.V. (Setar), an instrumentality of the Aruban government) pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering involving FCPA violations.

The release further states: “in connection with the scheme, Lawrence W. Parker, Jr., 42, of Miami, pleaded guilty on Dec. 28, 2017 to one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and to commit wire fraud.  Parker’s sentencing is scheduled for April 30.”

This post summarizes the original source documents in the Parker enforcement action.

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BellSouth Gets Hung Up In Latin America

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

In 2002, the SEC announced the filing of a settled civil complaint against BellSouth Corporation charging the telecommunications company with violations of the FCPA’s books and records and internal controls provisions.

The conduct at issue focused on an indirect subsidiary in Venezuela (and BellSouth’s inability to “reconstruct the circumstances of purpose” of certain payments) and an indirect subsidiary in Nicaragua (which retained the wife of the chairman of a Nicaraguan legislative committee with oversight of telecommunications).

As frequently highlighted on these pages, the root cause of many FCPA enforcement actions are foreign trade barriers and restrictions and in this regard, as the complaint notes, Nicaraguan law prohibited foreign companies from acquiring a majority interest in Nicaraguan telecommunications companies.”

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Next Up – Telia As DOJ And SEC Announce Contemplated $483 Million Net FCPA Enforcement Action

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This recent post asked: what will September bring and noted that with history as a guide likely notable FCPA enforcement actions.

This 2015 post highlighted the burgeoning Uzbekistan telecommunication investigations involving Dutch telecom company VimpleCom, Swedish telecom company TeliaSonera, and Russia-based Mobile TeleSystems.

As highlighted here, in February 2016 VimpelCom resolved a net $397.5 million FCPA enforcement action and as highlighted below yesterday the DOJ and SEC announced a contemplated $483 million net FCPA enforcement against against Telia (after accounting for various credits and deductions for contemplated Swedish and Dutch enforcement actions) – the 5th largest net FCPA settlement of all-time.

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