A “foreign official” headed to prison, more on monitors, the language of bribery, more pre-enforcement action news, and perspectives from the field.
It’s all here in the Friday roundup.
Haitian “Foreign Official” Headed to U.S. Prison
The action was noteworthy because it involved “foreign officials.” Because the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act only applies to bribe givers and not bribe recipients, the charges were not FCPA charges, but rather a money laundering conspiracy charge.
Earlier this week, Robert Antoine (a former Director of International Relations of Haiti Teleco responsible for negotiating contracts with international telecommunications companies on behalf of Haiti Teleco), was sentenced to four years in prison. In addition, Antoine was ordered to serve three years of supervised release following his prison term, ordered to pay $1,852,209 in restitution, and ordered to forfeit $1,580,771. (See here for the DOJ release).
Certain of the indicted defendants, including “foreign official” Jean Rene Duperval, have not pleaded and the DOJ release notes that “trial for these remaining defendants is scheduled to begin July 19, 2010, in U.S. District Court in Miami.”
Additional Guidance on the Use of Monitors in Deferred Prosecution Agreements and Non-Prosecution Agreements
Most corporate FCPA enforcement actions involve deferred prosecution or non-prosecution agreements. Many of these agreements require the appointment of a compliance monitor.
Thus, most FCPA aficionados are familiar with the “Morford Memo” – the March 2008 DOJ guidance “relating to the use of independent corporate monitors in connection with deferred prosecution agreements and non-prosecution agreements with corporations.” The Morford Memo (see here) sets forth nine basic principles for
drafting monitor-related provisions in such agreements.
Recently Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler issued a memo (see here) “to supplement the guidance in the Morford Memorandum by adding a tenth basic principle to guide prosecutors in drafting agreements: namely, that an agreement should explain what role the Department could play in resolving any disputes between the monitor and the corporation, given the facts and circumstances of the case.”
The Language of Bribery
The FCPA is a serious topic.
But that doesn’t mean an FCPA article can’t be informative and entertaining at the same time.
Case in point, “A Bribe By Any Other Name” by James Tillen and Sonia Delman (Miller & Chevalier) (see here).
Don’t understand the significance of “moon cakes,” “rice cake expenses” or “black mist?”
You probably should.
As the authors note, “[w]hen an expatriate manager does not recognize that a subordinate is seeking reimbursement for a bribe disguised by a code word or when auditors miss a suspect transaction concealed behind a local idiom, the employees themselves and the company as a whole are at serious risk of running afoul of anti-bribery laws.”
The article concludes with a “few simple steps” companies can take to incorporate the language of bribery into compliance training and policies.
The Flood of Pre-Enforcement Action News Continues
One of these days, the FCPA dam is going to burst because the surge of pre-enforcement action news continues.
Among others in the “stay-tuned” category are: Alcatel-Lucent, Technip, Panalpina, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson.
Add to the list Universal Corporation, “the world’s leading leaf tobacco merchant and processor.” (see here).
The company’s recent 10-K (see here) notes as follows:
“As a result of a posting to our Ethics Complaint hotline alleging improper activities that involved or related to certain of our tobacco subsidiaries, the Audit Committee of our Board of Directors engaged an outside law firm to conduct an investigation of the alleged activities. That investigation revealed that there have been payments that may have violated the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The payments approximated $2 million over a seven-year period. In addition, the investigation revealed activities in foreign jurisdictions that may have violated the competition laws of such jurisdictions, but we believe those activities did not violate U.S. antitrust laws. We voluntarily reported these activities to the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and the SEC in March 2006. On June 6, 2006, the SEC notified us that a formal order of investigation had been issued.
Since voluntarily reporting, we have cooperated with and assisted the DOJ and SEC in their investigations, and for the past year we have engaged in settlement discussions with both authorities to resolve the matter. Those negotiations have resulted in agreements in principle being reached with representatives of the DOJ and the staff of the SEC. The final resolution of this matter remains subject to the completion of definitive agreements and the approval and execution of those agreements by the DOJ and the SEC. In addition, each settlement is subject to the approval of a federal district court with jurisdiction over the matter. We have been given no assurance that the settlements will be approved by the DOJ, SEC, or federal district courts. Based on the agreements in principle that have been reached to date, the resolution of this matter with the DOJ and the SEC is expected to include injunctive relief, disgorgement and prejudgment interest, fines, penalties, and the retention of an independent compliance monitor. Based in part on the progress of the matter and consultation with outside counsel, we have recorded accruals from time to time since the matter arose that are adequate to satisfy the estimated financial settlement we expect with the resolution of the matter. The financial settlement is not expected to have a material effect on our financial condition or results of operations.”
Incidentally, on the same day, Universal issued a press release announcing record annual earnings (see here).
U.K. Bribery Bill – Perspectives from the Conference Circuit
In the below guest post, Osajda offers perspectives from recent presentations in Singapore and Hong Kong attended by over 120 business professionals and attorneys.
“My presentation compared and contrasted the FCPA and the U.K. Bribery Act. I spoke of the different bases for the two statutes, the FCPA being a product of a unique post Watergate cloture and a significant Cold War foreign policy element and the Bribery Act, a product of legislative efficiency and the need for the UK to comply with the OECD convention. The new offenses of foreign private bribery and failure to prevent bribery were stressed.
Like many commentators, the attendees were nervous about the SFO’s stated use of prosecutorial discretion to address issues such as facilitation payments and the appropriateness of business expenses. Attendees were concerned that SFO statements that it does not intend to shut down business and that it will look reasonably at facilitation payments, especially in circumstances that appear to be coercion that can be given to the field. These issues may be a mine filed until some pattern of prosecution or abstention is established. Another concern of attendees was the new strict liability offense of failure to prevent bribery. The attendees were interested as to the elements of “adequate procedures.” While the Sentencing Guidelines, the Woolf Report and OECD guidance are good starts, we will all wait for the guidance to come from the UK Secretary of State on the components of “adequate procedures”.
All in all this Asia trip underscores the world-wide interest of multinationals, whatever their home jurisdictions, to the issue of corruption. All understand that the landscape is changing and are interested in doing the right thing.”
Also, Trace recently conducted a symposium in London “attended by over 60 company representatives and featuring speakers from government, the private bar and in-house legal and compliance departments.” For insight into what was on the minds of program participants see here.