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FCPA Enforcement Actions Against Japanese Companies

Japan

When thinking of foreign companies that have resolved Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement actions, most people likely think of German and French companies and to be sure there have been several enforcement actions against companies from those countries.

Yet, the top domiciliary of foreign companies to resolve FCPA enforcement actions is actually Japan.

This post highlights the seven FCPA enforcement actions against Japanese companies and/or related entities (all since 2011) that have netted the U.S. treasury approximately $705 million. Even though approximately 50% of corporate FCPA enforcement actions originate from voluntarily disclosures, none of the enforcement actions against Japanese companies originated in this manner.

JGC Corp. (Apr. 2011)

See here for the prior post.

The company was a joint venture partner in the so-called TSKJ consortium that was formed for purposes of bidding on and performing a series of engineering, procurement, and construction contracts to design and build a liquefied natural gas plant on Bonny Island, Nigeria. Previous Bonny Island FCPA enforcement actions involved: KBR / Halliburton (see here), Technip (see here) and Snamprogetti (see here).

The settlement amount was $218.8 million and the criminal charges were resolved via a DOJ deferred prosecution agreement.

In the DPA, the DOJ stated:  “after initially declining to cooperate with the Department based on jurisdictional arguments, JGC began to cooperate, and has agreed to continue to cooperate, with the Department.” There is no mention of voluntary disclosure in the settlement documents ((something the DOJ typically mentions in resolution documents if indeed it has occurred).

Bridgestone (Sept. 2011)

See here for the prior post.

The company pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Sherman Act and conspiracy to violate the FCPA. The FCPA conduct related to allegations of improper payments to officials in Latin America related to the sale of marine hose and other industrial products.

The overall settlement amount was $28 million and from the DOJ’s resolution documents it appears that approximately 80% of the $28 million fine was for the FCPA conduct.

In the DOJ’s release, it “recognized Bridgestone’s cooperation with the investigations, including conducting a worldwide internal investigation, voluntarily making employees available for interviews, and collecting, analyzing and providing to the department voluminous evidence and information.” There is no mention of voluntary disclosure in the settlement documents (something the DOJ typically mentions in resolution documents if indeed it has occurred).

Marubeni (Jan. 2012).

See here for the prior post.

The conduct at issue involved the same Bonny Island, Nigeria conduct in the JGC enforcement action and Marubeni was hired by the TSKJ consortium in connection with the project.

The settlement amount was approximately $56 million and the criminal charges were resolved via a DPA. The DOJ made no mention of voluntary disclosure or cooperation in the resolution documents (something the DOJ typically mentions in resolution documents if indeed it has occurred).

Marubeni (Mar. 2014)

See here for the prior post.

The company was a consortium partner along with Alstom in bidding on and carrying out the Tarahan power project in Indonesia and pleaded guilty to making improper payments to a consultant knowing that a portion of the payments were intended for Indonesian officials in exchange for their influence and assistance in awarding the Tarahan Project to Marubeni and Alstom.

The settlement amount was $88 million and in the plea agreement the DOJ stated that the fine amount was based on, among other things, “the Defendant’s failure to voluntarily disclose the conduct; the Defendants refusal to cooperate with the Department’s investigation when given the opportunity to do so; the lack of an effective compliance and ethics program at the time of the offense; the Defendant’s failure to properly remediate: and the Defendant’s history of prior criminal misconduct.”

Hitachi (Sept. 2015).

See here for the prior post.

According to the SEC, Hitachi violated the FCPA’s books and records and internal controls provisions “when it inaccurately recorded improper payments to South Africa’s ruling political party in connection with contracts to build two multi-billion dollar power plants.”

The settlement amount was $19 million and there was no mention of voluntary disclosure or cooperation in the SEC resolution documents (something the SEC typically mentions in resolution documents if indeed it has occurred).

Olympus (March 2016)

See here for the prior post.

According to the DOJ, an Olympus entity provided approximately $3 million in “hundreds of unlawful payments” to publicly employed healthcare professionals in Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Argentina, Mexico, and Costa Rica to “induce the purchase of Olympus products, influence public tenders, or prevent public institutions from purchasing or converting to the technology of competitors.”

The settlement amount was approximately $23 million and the DOJ stated that the company “did not timely, voluntarily disclose the FCPA violations.”

Panasonic (April 2018)

See here for the prior post.

According to the DOJ and SEC, a Panasonic entity (among other things): offered a consulting position to a foreign official at the same time the individual was involved in negotiating a lucrative contract on behalf of a Middle East Airline; and hid more than $7 million in payments to a least thirteen sub-agents in its China and Asia regions to obtain and manage contracts with state-owned airlines.

The aggregate settlement amount was $280 million and the government stated: “The Company did not receive voluntary disclosure credit because the Company’s disclosures occurred only after the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) requested documents from Panasonic related to possible violations of anti-corruption laws and several years after the Company and Panasonic first became aware of the allegations of bribery through a whistleblower complaint and civil lawsuit, which the Company took steps to investigate internally but chose not to voluntarily report to the relevant authorities.”

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