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Flipping The Panasonic Enforcement Action Allegations Into “Best Practices”

flipping

Compliance professionals should develop the skill of flipping enforcement action allegations into “best practices.”

In doing so, recognize that “best practices” are not necessarily legal requirements. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act sets forth the law (not negotiated DOJ or SEC resolution vehicles not subjected to any meaningful judicial scrutiny) and when it comes to internal controls the law states that issuers shall ” devise and maintain a system of internal accounting controls sufficient to provide reasonable assurances that” certain specified objectives are met.

Nevertheless, compliance professionals need to be cognizant of allegations in enforcement actions for the simple reason that the DOJ and the SEC hold the big sticks and will have certain expectations of companies.

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Panasonic Corp. And Related Entity Resolve $280 Million Avionics Industry FCPA Enforcement Action

panasonic

Yesterday, the DOJ and SEC announced (here and here) a parallel Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action against Japan-based Panasonic Corp.  and a U.S. subsidiary Panasonic Avionics Corp. (PAC).

As stated in the enforcement action, Panasonic was an issuer until April 2013 and again “for a brief period between 2015 and 2016 as a result of a share swap that retriggered Panasonic’s obligation to file its financial statements with the SEC.”

As highlighted in this post, the enforcement action consisted of:

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Dun & Bradstreet Resolves $9.2 Million Enforcement Action Based On Conduct Of Two Indirect Chinese Subsidiaries From 6-12 Years Ago

D&B

As highlighted in this prior post, over six years ago Dun & Bradstreet (a leading source of commercial information and insight on businesses) announced that it was under Foreign Corrupt Practices Act scrutiny concerning conduct in China.

Yesterday, the SEC (Snails-Pace Enforcement Commission) announced that D&B agreed to resolve an FCPA enforcement action by paying approximately $9.2 million to “arising from improper payments made by two Chinese subsidiaries.”

This administrative order states, in summary fashion:

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Canada-Based Kinross Gold Corp. Resolves Approximate $1 Million SEC Action Because Its Acquired Indirect African Subsidiaries Had Deficient Internal Controls

Kinross

Silly you for believing certain commentator hype that the Trump SEC would stop enforcing the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act or for thinking that the general lull in SEC corporate enforcement during the fourth quarter of 2017 meant anything.

In the second SEC corporate FCPA enforcement action in the last 2.5 weeks (see here for the prior Elbit Imaging action), the SEC announced yesterday that Canada-based Kinross Gold Corporation (a company with shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange) resolved an enforcement action “arising from the company’s repeated failure to implement adequate accounting controls of two African subsidiaries.” Without admitting or denying the SEC’s finding in this administrative order, Kinross agreed to, among other things, pay a $950,000 civil penalty.

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First Corporate Enforcement Action Of 2018 Is Against Israel-Based Elbit Imaging Ltd.

Elbit

Last Friday, the SEC released this administrative order finding that Israel-based Elbit Imaging Ltd. (a real estate company with shares traded on NASDAQ) violated the books and records and internal controls provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act based on payments made to certain third parties “when some or all of the funds may have been used to make corrupt payments to Romanian government officials or were embezzled.”

The enforcement action concerned conduct between 2006 and 2012 (beyond any conceivable statute of limitations) and without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings Elbit agreed to pay $500,000 (an amount reflective of the fact that Elbit is currently winding down its operations).

The Elbit Imaging enforcement action is the first corporate FCPA enforcement action of 2018 and breaks a nearly six month dry spell in SEC corporate FCPA enforcement actions.

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