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Friday Roundup

When the dust settles, scrutiny alerts and updates, quotable and for the reading stack.  It’s all here in the Friday roundup.

When the Dust Settles

Given the ease in which information now flows and the world-wide interest in corruption and bribery, FCPA enforcement actions are read around the world.  It is thus not surprising that when the dust settles on the U.S. FCPA enforcement action, many are left wondering … who are those “foreign officials”?

Most recent case in point concerns this week’s FCPA enforcement action against Smith & Wesson [1] which involved alleged conduct in Indonesia, among other countries.  According to the SEC:

“In 2009, Smith & Wesson attempted to win a contract to sell firearms to a Indonesian police department by making improper payments to its third party agent in Indonesia, who indicated that part of the payment would be provided to the Indonesian police officials under the guise of legitimate firearm lab testing costs. On several occasions, Smith & Wesson’s third-party agent indicated that the Indonesian police expected Smith & Wesson to pay them additional amounts above the actual cost of testing the guns as an inducement to enter the contract. The agent later notified Smith & Wesson’s Regional Director of International Sales that the price of “testing” the guns had risen further. Smith & Wesson’s Vice President of International Sales and its Regional Director of International Sales authorized and made the inflated payment, but a deal was never consummated.”

As noted in this [2] Jakarta Post article:

“The Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW) has called for an investigation into an alleged attempt by US gunmaker Smith & Wesson to bribe officials at the National Police.  […] In response to the SEC [action], ICW legal researcher Donal Fariz urged the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) to look into the scandal.  The National Police may face a conflict of interest by handling the case. So, it is better to entrust the investigation with the KPK. The KPK needs to ask for the detailed report [from the SEC] on the police officials who were involved in the scandal,” he said on Wednesday in a telephone interview”

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If FCPA Professor adds value to your practice or business or otherwise enlightens your day and causes you to contemplate the issues in a more sophisticated way, please consider nominating FCPA Professor for the ABA Journal’s Blawg 100 list (see here [3]).

Scrutiny Alerts and Updates

Bloomberg reports here [4]:

“British prosecutors told several former employees of Alstom SA that they’ll be charged as part of its prosecution of the French train-maker, according to two people with knowledge of the situation.The prosecutor contacted the individuals yesterday to offer to start plea discussions, the people said, asking not to be identified because the correspondence isn’t public. Some may appear with the company at a London court on Sept. 9, according to the people. The U.K. Serious Fraud Office charged Alstom’s U.K. subsidiary with corruption and conspiracy to corrupt yesterday following a five-year investigation. The company was charged in relation to transport projects in India [5], Poland and Tunisia, the agency said. The SFO contacted at least five individuals about two months ago inviting them for plea discussions, people with knowledge of the matter said in June. The SFO then decided to postpone the talks until it decided whether to prosecute Alstom.”

Bloomberg reports here [6]:

“Wynn Resorts said it has been contacted by Macau’s anti-corruption agency regarding the company’s land purchase for its new resort-casino on the Cotai Strip. “We are working cooperatively with” the city’s Commission Against Corruption, the Las Vegas-based company said in an e-mailed reply to questions yesterday. The Macau Business newspaper reported July 11 that the agency is investigating why Wynn Resorts was made to pay 400 million patacas ($50 million) for the land rights, citing Commission Chief Fong Man Chon.  Wynn Resorts had to buy the rights from certain mainlanders, though the Land Public Works and Transport Bureau said it wasn’t aware of their involvement, according to the Macau Business report.”

As highlighted in this [7] February 2012 e-mail, Wynn Resorts was under FCPA scrutiny for its $135 million donation to the University of Macau. See here [8] for an update based on the company’s disclosures.

Quotable

Thomas Baxter (Executive Vice President and General Counsel of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York) stated, in pertinent part, as follows in a recent speech [9]:

“[T]here is one part of the FCPA that makes me uncomfortable.  The FCPA’s bribery prohibition, and the compliance officers in the audience will know this well, contains a narrow exception for “facilitating or expediting payments” made in furtherance of routine governmental action.  […]  The real mischief is what this exception might do to an organizational value system.  When an organizational policy allows some types of official corruption (and we have come up with candy coated names for this, like facilitation or expediting payments), this diminishes the efficacy of compliance rules that are directed toward stopping official corruption.  Again, the best compliance cultures are formed when the rules and the organizational value system are in perfect harmony.  So, for U.S. chartered institutions, perhaps this is a place where your organizational value system should go beyond black-letter U.S. law.  If you tolerate a little corruption, watch out!”

I generally agree and as highlighted in this [10] recent post when it comes to employee FCPA training, companies should consider omitting reference to the FCPA’s facilitating payments exception and affirmative defenses.  The Global Anti-Bribery Course I have developed in partnership with Emtrain best assists companies in reducing their overall risk exposure by omitting reference to the FCPA’s facilitating payments exception and affirmative defenses in rank-and-file employee training.

To learn more about the course, see here [11].

To read what others are saying about the course, see here [12].

Michael Volkov at the Corruption, Crime & Compliance site often tells-it-like-it-is and this [13] post begins as follows.

“The Internet is littered with FCPA Mid-Year Assessments and reports on enforcement activity and so-called trends and developments. Talk about making mountains out of molehills. Some of the reports are excellent; others are rehashes filled with “analysis” that are intended to promote FCPA fear marketing.”

Reading Stack

This [14] recent article in the Corporate Law & Accountability Report details comments made by SEC FCPA Unit Chief Kara Brockmeyer.  In the article Brockmeyer talks about: