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In The News

The SEC Goes Searching

Last August (see here [1]) when Robert Khuzami, the SEC’s Director of the Division of Enforcement, announced that the SEC would be creating a specialized FCPA unit he said, among other things, that:

“The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act unit will focus on new and proactive approaches to identifying violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practice Act…”

In February, Cheryl Scarboro (the head of the SEC’s FCPA Unit) similarly stated (here [2]) that “the new unit will give us the resources and the ability to do even more going forward,” that the new unit will allow the SEC to do more industry investigations, and that one industry the SEC is focusing on is the pharmaceutical industry.

Given these comments, it should come as no surprise that a recent Wall Street Journal article notes that the SEC enforcement division sent letters “within the past two months” to several companies in the pharmaceutical and energy industries” “as part of an investigation by the SEC division that looks into potential violations of the FCPA.” According to the article, the letters ask the companies “about their internal controls to guard against bribery” specifically in terrorism-sponsor states such as Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria. According to the article, “it isn’t clear which companies received the letters.” The article also notes that “the SEC probe, which is in its early stages, comes as the Justice Department’s criminal fraud section has sent letters in recent weeks to a number of pharmaceutical companies asking about payments made to foreign officials in several nations…” Both the SEC and DOJ declined to comment for the article.

Bribes for Books

A post earlier this week talked about the World Bank and other multilateral development banks (see here [3]).

Fitting because recently the World Bank (see here [4]) “debarred Macmillan Limited, a U.K. company, declaring the company ineligible to be awarded Bank-financed contracts for a period of six years in the wake of the company’s admission of bribery payments relating to a Trust Fund-supported education project in Southern Sudan.” According to the release, “the debarment can be reduced to three years subject to continued cooperation.”

In a press release yesterday (see here [5]), the company said “the international publishing business, Macmillan Publishers Ltd UK (“Macmillan”), has today confirmed that it has voluntarily referred to the Serious Fraud Office its concerns over historic payments made by a subsidiary of its education business, Macmillan Education, to secure a contract in Southern Sudan.”