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A Look At The French Enforcement Action Against Airbus

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Previous posts here and here looked at the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action against Airbus.

This previous post looked at the U.K. Bribery Act enforcement action against Airbus.

This post completes the enforcement trilogy, bylooking at the French enforcement action against Airbus.

Like the prior U.S. and U.K. bribery enforcement action, the French enforcement action against Airbus (see here for the Judicial Public Interest Agreement) focused on the use of business partners in connection with sales or attempted sales in various countries.

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An In-Depth Look At The U.K. Prosecution Of Airbus

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These pages have long asserted that if a country is to have a deferred prosecution regime that the regime in the United Kingdom (which requires meaningful judicial review and approval) is far more preferable than the U.S. regime.

This is apparent when reviewing the Statement of Facts,, Deferred Prosecution Agreement and Approved Judgment relevant to the U.K. Serious Fraud Office prosecution of Airbus. (See here for a collection of the U.K. documents and see here for the prior post regarding the U.S. enforcement action). The U.K. documents provided a substantially more thorough and transparent glimpse into the underlying conduct compared to the U.S. resolution documents.

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Even Though The Jurisdictional Basis For The Action Was “Limited,” Airbus Resolves $294 Million FCPA Enforcement Action In Connection With Broader Global Enforcement Action

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The DOJ recently announced that Airbus (a France-based global provider of civilian and military aircraft) agreed to pay $3.9 billion to resolve foreign bribery, as well as Arms Export Control Act and International Traffic in Arms Regulations, enforcement actions in the U.S., France, and the United Kingdom.

As the DOJ acknowledged, Airbus “is neither a U.S. issuer nor a domestic concern, and the territorial jurisdiction over the corrupt conduct is limited.” As the DOJ further acknowledged, both France and the United Kingdom have a “significantly stronger” jurisdictional basis for resolving related matters.

Nevertheless, a portion of the global settlement amount includes a $294 million Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action. This post summarizes the enforcement action in which the DOJ charged Airbus in this information with conspiracy to violate the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions and conspiracy to violate the Arms Export Control Act and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations.

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Swedish Company Bribes Foreign Officials, U.S. Collects $1.06 Billion In Record-Setting FCPA Enforcement Action

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Late last Friday, the DOJ and SEC announced (here and here) a record-setting Foreign Corrupt Practices Act action Swedish telecom company Ericsson (a company with American Depositary Shares traded in the U.S.). The $1.06 billion settlement amount is the largest net FCPA settlement amount in history surpassing the $850 million FCPA enforcement action against Russian telecom company MTS in March 2019 (see here).

The enforcement action concerned conduct in Djibouti, China, Vietnam, Kuwait, Indonesia, and Saudi Arabia.

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Foreign Lawyers Are Third Parties Too

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Companies doing business in the global marketplace engage all types of third parties. Generally, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act compliance tends to focus, with good reason, on third parties such as agents, representatives, distributors and others that assist a company in obtaining or retaining business.

However, given the DOJ and SEC’s broad interpretation of that element of the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions, any third party that has a point of contact with foreign officials – even if outside the context of foreign government procurement – can potentially expose a business organization to scrutiny and enforcement.

This includes foreign lawyers as the recent Quad/Graphics enforcement action demonstrates (see here and here for prior posts).

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