Additional individual defendant added to Alstom-related enforcement action, a mere $110,000 per working day, a focus on international philanthropy, scrutiny alerts, and for the reading stack. It’s all here in the Friday roundup.
Additional Alstom-Related Charges
This prior post highlighted the recently unsealed criminal charges against Frederic Pierucci (a current Alstom employee) and David Rothschild (a former Alstom employee) concerning alleged conduct in connection with the Tarahan coal-fired steam power plant project in Indonesia. The post highlighted several other individuals generically referred to in the charging documents.
Earlier this week, the DOJ announced (here) that William Pomponi (a former executive of Alstom Power Inc., a Connecticut-based subsidiary of Alstom) was charged for his alleged participation in the same scheme. Pomponi, previously identified as “Employee A,” is now described as “a Vice President of Regional Sales” at Alstom Power Inc. and “was one of the people responsible for approving the actions of, and authorizing payments to, Consultants A and B, knowing that a portion of the payments [to the consultants] was intended for Indonesian officials in exchange for their influence and assistance in awarding the Tarahan Project …”.
Like the original Pierucci indictment, all of the alleged overt acts in the superseding indictment against Pomponi allegedly occured between 2002 and 2004, although the information does allege wire transfers from Alstom Power Inc.’s bank account to the bank account of Consultant A until 2009.
Like Pierucci, Pomponi is also charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA, four substantive counts of FCPA anti-bribery violations, money laundering conspiracy and four substantive counts of money laundering.
Kudos to the DOJ for including a link to the charging document in the release. This used to be DOJ’s practice, but when its new site launched a few years ago, it stopped doing this. Let’s hope this is a new practice!
Avon’s FCPA Expenses
Nearly five years ago – in June 2008 – Avon launched an internal investigation concerning FCPA compliance in China and other countries. In many respects, the most notable aspect of Avon’s FCPA scrutiny has been its pre-enforcement action professional and expenses – approaching $350 million (see here for instance).
In its most recent quarterly filing, Avon stated as follows. “Professional and related fees associated with the FCPA investigations and compliance reviews … amounted to approximately $7 during the three months ended March 31, 2013.”
Headlines read “Avon FCPA Costs Down to $7 Million for Q1” and “Avon Slows Spending on Bribery Probe.”
Both accurate headlines, but it is amazing to note nevertheless that – five years into Avon’s FCPA scrutiny – the company is still spending approximately $110,000 per working day on its FCPA issues. (See this prior post concerning Wal-Mart’s pre-enforcement action professional fees and expenses and asking “does it really need to cost this much?”).
FCPA material pops up in a variety of places. Such as this article in www.wealthmanagement.com concerning the perils of global giving. With two FCPA enforcement actions (Schering-Plough and Eli Lilly) based, in whole or in part, on donations made to a Polish castle foundation and with Wynn Resorts under FCPA scrutiny for a donation to the University of Macau (see here), FCPA scrutiny based on international charitable giving is no mere hypothetical.
Scrutiny alerts concerning IBM, ADM, Total, and ENRC.
This recent post highlighted a ProPublica report regarding the relationship between various tech companies including H-P, IBM and Oracle with a ”senior technology officer for Poland’s national police and, later, the nation’s Interior Ministry, [who] set the terms for hundreds of millions of dollars in technology contracts and decided which ones should be awarded without competitive bidding.”
In a recent quarterly filing, IBM disclosed as follows.
“In early 2012, IBM notified the SEC of an investigation by the Polish Central Anti-Corruption Bureau involving allegations of illegal activity by a former IBM Poland employee in connection with sales to the Polish government. IBM is cooperating with the SEC and Polish authorities in this matter. In April 2013, IBM learned that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is also investigating allegations related to the Poland matter, as well as allegations relating to transactions in Argentina, Bangladesh and Ukraine. The DOJ is also seeking information regarding the company’s global FCPA compliance program and its public sector business. The company is cooperating with the DOJ in this matter.”
In 2011, IBM resolved an FCPA enforcement action concerning alleged conduct in South Korea and China. (See here). The settlement is still pending the approval of Judge Richard Leon (D.D.C.). In 2000, IBM resolved an FCPA enforcement action concerning alleged conduct in Argentina. (See here).
Archer Daniels Midland Company recently stated as follows in this release.
“ADM is in discussions with the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission regarding a previously disclosed FCPA matter dating back to 2008 and earlier, and expects a resolution sometime this year. Based upon recent discussions, ADM believes it is appropriate to establish a provision of $25 million ($0.04 per share) to cover the potential assessments that may be imposed by these government agencies.”
France-based Total recently stated as follows (here) concerning its long-running FCPA scrutiny concerning business conduct in Iran.
“In 2003, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) followed by the Department of Justice (DoJ) issued a formal order directing an investigation in connection with the pursuit of business in Iran by certain oil companies including, among others, TOTAL. The inquiry concerns an agreement concluded by the Company with consultants concerning gas fields in Iran and aims to verify whether certain payments made under this agreement would have benefited Iranian officials in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and the Company’s accounting obligations. The Company fully cooperates with these investigations. Since 2010, the Company has been in discussions with U.S. authorities (DoJ and SEC) to consider, as it is often the case in these kinds of proceedings, an out-of-court settlement, which would terminate the investigation in exchange for TOTAL respecting a number of obligations, including the payment of a fine and civil compensation, without admission of guilt. U.S. authorities have proposed draft agreements that could be accepted by TOTAL. Consequently, and although discussions have not yet been finalized, a provision of $398 million, unchanged since its booking as of June 30, 2012 and reflecting the best estimate of potential costs associated with the resolution of these proceedings, remains booked in the Group’s consolidated financial statements as of March 31, 2013. In this same affair, TOTAL and its Chief Executive Officer, President of the Middle East at the time of the facts, have been placed under formal investigation, following a judicial inquiry initiated in France in 2006. At this point, the Company considers that the resolution of these cases is not expected to have a significant impact on the Group’s financial situation or consequences on its future planned operations.”
A $398 million FCPA enforcement action would be the third-highest of all-time.
Last week the U.K. Serious Fraud Office announced here as follows.
“The Director of the SFO has accepted [Eurasian Natural Resources Corp.] ENRC Plc. for criminal investigation. The focus of the investigation will be allegations of fraud, bribery and corruption relating to the activities of the company or its subsidiaries in Kazakhstan and Africa.”
In a statement, the U.K. company, stated as follows.
“The Board of Directors (the ‘Board’) of Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation PLC (‘ENRC’ or, together with its subsidiaries, the ‘Group’) today notes that the SFO has moved to a formal investigation. ENRC confirms that it is assisting and cooperating fully with the SFO. ENRC is committed to a full and transparent investigation of its procedures and conduct.
ENRC has ADRs listed with the SEC and thus could also be subject to the FCPA.
This recent article in the Wall Street Journal states as follows.
“U.K.-listed Eurasian Natural Resources Corp. PLC said … allegations of wrongdoing over minerals sales conducted through a Russian network of agents were thoroughly investigated and dismissed” in 2007.
Tom Fox (FCPA Compliance and Ethics Blog) has penned a new book – “Best Practices Under the FCPA and Bribery Act: How to Create a First Class Compliance Program.” I was pleased to contribute the foreword to the book and noted that Tom’s “use of real events as learning devices to demonstrate compliance best practices make [the] book an engaging and informative read.”
Inside the NY Times Wal-Mart investigation (here) from the perspective of the Mexican journalist who assisted in the investigative reporting.