A bit of catch up with today’s post which discusses the recent sentence of Juan Diaz in the continuing Haiti Teleco saga (including an interesting post-enforcement action twist) and a DOJ release that flew under the radar.
Juan Diaz was recently sentenced to 57 months in prison after previously pleading guilty to a one-count information charging him with conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and money laundering. (See here for the DOJ release). As noted in the release, Diaz was also ordered to: (i) serve three years of supervised release following his prison term; (ii) pay $73,824 in restitution; and (iii) forfeit $1,028,851.
In May 2009, (see here) Diaz pleaded guilty for his role in an improper payment scheme involving employees of Haiti Teleco, an alleged state-owned national telecommunications company. In the DOJ’s view, that would make the Director of International Relations and the General Director of Haiti Teleco, persons Diaz and others allegedly bribed, Haitian “foreign officials” under the FCPA.
The interesting twist is this.
If Diaz bribed these same employees today, he would be bribing (presumably in the DOJ’s view) not Haitian “foreign officials” but Vietnamese “foreign officials.”
Because in May, Viettel, a telecommunications company run by Vietnam’s military, purchased a 60% stake in Haiti Teleco. (See here).
The 57 month sentence Diaz received is similar to the 60 month FCPA sentence Charles Jumet received in April (see here). Jumet was sentenced to 87 months after pleading guilty to a two-count criminal information charging conspiracy to violate the FCPA and making false statements to federal agents. The false statements portion of the sentence was 20 months.
Civil Forfeiture Action Against Properties Owned by Former President of Taiwan
In July, the DOJ issued a release (see here) about a civil forfeiture complaint it filed against certain U.S. properties “that represent a portion of illegal bribes paid to the former president of Taiwan and his wife.”
With Attorney General Eric Holder’s recent announcement of the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative (see here), the release should be of interest to those who follow this initiative and the general issue of asset recovery.
Bribe recipients can not be prosecuted under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, but U.S. based assets (or other assets that flow through U.S. financial institutions) of bribe recipients can be subject to U.S. legal proceedings under other laws.
As noted in this post from November 2009, Attorney General Holder has called asset recovery a “global imperative” and announced a “redoubled commitment on behalf of the United States Department of Justice to recover” funds obtained by foreign officials through bribery.
The prior post discussed the January 2009 civil forfeiture action the DOJ filed in the aftermath of the Siemens enforcement action against bank accounts located in Singapore in the names of Zulfikar Ali, Fazel Selim, and ZASZ Trading and Consulting Pte Ltd. (“ZASZ”) (see here). According to the DOJ’s complaint (see here), these accounts were used by Siemens and another company to bribe foreign officials in violation of the FCPA, specifically Arafat Rahman (“Koko”), the son of former Bangladeshi Prime Minister Khaleda Zia. The DOJ alleges that the illicit funds in these accounts flowed through U.S. financial institutions thereby subjecting them to U.S. jurisdiction.
Similarly, in January 2010, the DOJ unsealed a criminal indictment against Juthamas Siriwan and Jittisopa Siriwan, the foreign official bribe recipient of the Green’s improper payments and her daughter. See here. Among other things, the indictment seeks forfeiture of approximately $1.7 million.
Thus, the DOJ’s July announcement that it is pursuing U.S. based assets of the former president of Taiwan and his wife very much continues a trend.
According to the DOJ release:
“The former president and his wife were convicted in Taiwan on Sept. 11, 2009, for bribery, embezzlement and money laundering. They are currently sentenced to 20 years in prison. Their convictions were upheld on appeal and are now pending before the Supreme Court in Taiwan. […] The former president and his wife are also currently under indictment in Taiwan for additional alleged acts of graft and money laundering.”
Director John Morton of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) stated that the enforcement action “serves as a warning to those corrupt foreign officials who abuse their power for personal financial gain and then attempt to place those funds in the U.S. financial system” and that “ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations agents will continue to work with our law enforcement partners both here and abroad to investigate and prosecute those involved in such illicit activities and hold corrupt foreign officials accountable by denying them the enjoyment of their ill ?gotten gains.”
What appears to make this recent civil forfeiture action different than the previously filed Siemens-related forfeiture action and the previously filed Siriwan enforcement action is that the bribe payor may be beyond the reach of the FCPA.
According to the DOJ release, the entity paying the bribes to the president of Taiwan and his wife was Yuanta Securities Co. Ltd. (YSC). The release notes that YSC “was attempting to increase its ownership share of Fuhwa Financial Holding Company Limited” and that “YSC paid a bribe of 200 million New Taiwan dollars, or approximately $6 million U.S. dollars, […] to ensure that the authorities on Taiwan would not interfere with its acquisition of additional shares and to attempt to establish a relationship with the head of the authorities on Taiwan.”
Neither YSC (here), nor its parent company, Yuanta Financial Holdings, appear to be U.S. issuers. Under 78dd-3 of the FCPA, foreign companies can be subject to the FCPA’s jurisdiction. However, this prong of the FCPA requires a U.S. nexus. A quick scan of the forfeiture complaint does not suggest a U.S. nexus in terms of making the bribe payments – although the complaint clearly does allege a U.S. nexus once the payments were received and used by the former president of Taiwan and his wife.
Curious as to what happened in the above referenced Siemens-related enforcement action? In April 2010, U.S. District Court Judge John Bates granted the DOJ’s motion for default judgment and judgment of forfeiture against the subject properties.
What’s happening in the Siriwan enforcement action? According to the docket, nothing since the indictment was unsealed in January 2010.