It’s an FCPA world Friday roundup.
According to my tally, in the last approximate 30 days, 11 companies have disclosed new instances of FCPA scrutiny and/or otherwise been the subject of media reports concerning conduct that could implicate the FCPA. These “new” instances of scrutiny are in addition to several other companies that have recently disclosed expansion of existing FCPA inquiries.
This week’s scrutiny alerts and updates are set forth below.
In its most recent quarterly filing, the company disclosed:
“As part of routine internal audit activities, the Company determined that certain employees of Agilent’s subsidiaries in China did not comply with the Company’s Standards of Business Conduct and other policies. Based on those findings, the Company has initiated an internal investigation, with the assistance of outside counsel, relating to certain sales of our products through third party intermediaries in China. The internal investigation includes a review of compliance by our employees in China with the requirements of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and other applicable laws and regulations. On September 5, 2013, the Company voluntarily contacted the United States Securities and Exchange Commission and United States Department of Justice to advise both agencies of this internal investigation. We will cooperate with any government investigation of this matter. At this point, we cannot predict or estimate the duration, scope, cost, or result of this matter, or whether the government will commence any legal action, which could result in possible fines and penalties, criminal or civil sanctions, or other consequences. Accordingly, no provision with respect to these matters has been made in the Company’s consolidated financial statements. Adverse findings or other negative outcomes from any governmental proceedings could have a material impact on the Company’s consolidated financial statements in future periods.”
The company, with shares listed on the New York Stock Exchange, was the focus of this recent Reuters article. The article states:
“Japan’s securities market watchdog is investigating whether Deutsche Bank AG employees provided excessive entertainment to Japanese pension fund executives in breach of regulations, sources with knowledge of the matter said. The Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission (SESC) found evidence of potential infractions during a regular audit of Deutsche Securities Inc, the German bank’s investment banking arm in Tokyo, said the sources, who spoke on condition they not be identified because the investigation is ongoing. The employees had booked large expenses for entertainment involving pension fund executives, they said. This raised red flags for the regulators because the pension fund executives involved are legally considered public employees, subject to anti-bribery statutes, since they handle part of the national pension scheme.”
Gold Fields Limited
Last week, the South African company with ADR shares listed on the New York Stock Exchange, was the feature of this lengthy article in the Johannesburg Mail & Guardian newspaper. In short, the article suggested that:
“Gold Fields has buried a New York law firm’s [Paul Weiss] finding that a R25-million share allocation to ANC chairperson Baleka Mbete constituted bribery. The law firm, commissioned by Gold Fields itself, found that the South African mining house had hugely increased Mbete’s cut in a contentious 2010 empowerment deal in response to an alleged threat by her representative. They recommended that Gold Fields “self report” the matter to the authorities. But the company’s board disregarded the advice – and instead decided not to have the findings written up.”
Earlier this week, Gold Fields issued this statement:
“Gold Fields Limited has been informed that it is the subject of a regulatory investigation in the United States by the US Securities and Exchange Commission relating to the Black Economic Empowerment transaction associated with the granting of the mining license for its South Deep operation. Given the early stage of this investigation, it is not possible to estimate reliably what effect, the outcome this investigation, any regulatory findings and any related developments may have on the Company.”
“Russia GPO and Other FCPA Investigations. The German Public Prosecutor’s Office (“German PPO”) has been conducting an investigation into allegations that current and former employees of HP engaged in bribery, embezzlement and tax evasion relating to a transaction between Hewlett-Packard ISE GmbH in Germany, a former subsidiary of HP, and the General Prosecutor’s Office of the Russian Federation. The approximately €35 million transaction, which was referred to as the Russia GPO deal, spanned the years 2001 to 2006 and was for the delivery and installation of an IT network. The German PPO has issued an indictment of four individuals, including one current and two former HP employees, on charges including bribery, breach of trust and tax evasion. The German PPO has also asked that HP be made an associated party to the case, and, if the German PPO’s request is granted, HP would participate in any portion of the court proceedings that could ultimately bear on the question of whether HP should be subject to potential disgorgement of profits based on the conduct of the indicted current and former employees.
The U.S. Department of Justice and the SEC have been conducting an investigation into the Russia GPO deal and potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”). The agencies, as well as the Polish Central Anti-Corruption Bureau, are also conducting investigations into potential FCPA violations by an employee of Hewlett-Packard Polska Sp. z o.o., an indirect subsidiary of HP, in connection with certain public sector transactions in Poland. In addition, the agencies are conducting investigations into certain other public-sector transactions in Russia, Poland, the Commonwealth of Independent States, and Mexico, among other countries.
HP is cooperating with these investigating agencies.”
In its most recent quarterly filing, the company disclosed:
“The Audit Committee (the “Audit Committee”) of the Board of Directors of the Company, which is composed solely of independent directors, is conducting an internal investigation into, among other things, alleged violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) and other alleged crimes or misconduct in connection with foreign subsidiaries, including Wal-Mart de México, S.A.B. de C.V. (“Walmex”), and whether prior allegations of such violations and/or misconduct were appropriately handled by the Company. The Audit Committee and the Company have engaged outside counsel from a number of law firms and other advisors who are assisting in the on-going investigation of these matters. The Company is also conducting a voluntary global review of its policies, practices and internal controls for FCPA compliance. The Company is engaged in strengthening its global anti-corruption compliance programs through appropriate remedial anti-corruption measures. In November 2011, the Company voluntarily disclosed that investigative activity to the U.S. Department of Justice (the “DOJ”) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”). Since the implementation of the global review and the enhanced anti-corruption compliance programs, the Audit Committee and the Company have identified or been made aware of additional allegations regarding potential violations of the FCPA. When such allegations are reported or identified, the Audit Committee and the Company, together with their third party advisors, conduct inquiries and when warranted based on those inquiries, open investigations. Inquiries or investigations regarding allegations of potential FCPA violations have been commenced in a number of foreign markets where the Company operates, including, but not limited to, Brazil, China and India. The Company has been informed by the DOJ and the SEC that it is also the subject of their respective investigations into possible violations of the FCPA. The Company is cooperating with the investigations by the DOJ and the SEC. A number of federal and local government agencies in Mexico have also initiated investigations of these matters. Walmex is cooperating with the Mexican governmental agencies conducting these investigations. Furthermore, lawsuits relating to the matters under investigation have been filed by several of the Company’s shareholders against it, certain of its current directors, certain of its former directors, certain of its current and former officers and certain of Walmex’s current and former officers. The Company could be exposed to a variety of negative consequences as a result of the matters noted above. There could be one or more enforcement actions in respect of the matters that are the subject of some or all of the on-going government investigations, and such actions, if brought, may result in judgments, settlements, fines, penalties, injunctions, cease and desist orders, debarment or other relief, criminal convictions and/or penalties. The shareholder lawsuits may result in judgments against the Company and its current and former directors and officers named in those proceedings. The Company cannot predict at this time the outcome or impact of the government investigations, the shareholder lawsuits, or its own internal investigations and review. In addition, the Company expects to incur costs in responding to requests for information or subpoenas seeking documents, testimony and other information in connection with the government investigations, in defending the shareholder lawsuits, and in conducting the review and investigations. These costs will be expensed as incurred. For the three and six months ended July 31, 2013, the Company incurred expenses of approximately $82 million and $155 million respectively, related to these matters. Of these expenses, approximately $48 million and $92 million, respectively, represent costs incurred for the ongoing inquiries and investigations and $34 million and $63 million, respectively, relate to global compliance programs and organizational enhancements. These matters may require the involvement of certain members of the Company’s senior management that could impinge on the time they have available to devote to other matters relating to the business. The Company expects that there will be on-going media and governmental interest, including additional news articles from media publications on these matters, which could impact the perception among certain audiences of the Company’s role as a corporate citizen. The Company’s process of assessing and responding to the governmental investigations and the shareholder lawsuits continues. While the Company believes that it is probable that it will incur a loss from these matters, given the on-going nature and complexity of the review, inquiries and investigations, the Company cannot reasonably estimate any loss or range of loss that may arise from these matters. Although the Company does not presently believe that these matters will have a material adverse effect on its business, given the inherent uncertainties in such situations, the Company can provide no assurance that these matters will not be material to its business in the future.”