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A Focus On Vietnam


President Biden recently traveled to Vietnam.

One purpose of the visit was to “elevate [the U.S.] relationship to Vietnam’s highest designation for foreign partners – a comprehensive strategic partnership – from its lowest.” (See here for the Wall Street Journal article).

According to the article, “while the new status is symbolic, it is aimed at giving American companies, including defense contractors, reassurance that the recent warming relations will endure, and promote Vietnam as a dependable location for U.S. manufacturing operations abroad.”

This is the latest example (see here for a similar recent post) of the U.S. government promoting doing business in a country with high levels of perceived corruption and a country that has been the focus of numerous FCPA enforcement actions.

Set forth below are the general details of fourteen FCPA enforcement actions (all since 2008) which have involved (in whole or in part) conduct in Vietnam.

KT Corporation (2022)

The enforcement action concerned conduct in South Korea and Vietnam.

As to Vietnam, the allegations stated that “KT employees internally discussed providing money to third parties connected to government officials in Vietnam in order to obtain contracts for two projects. The first project was with the People’s Committee of Quang Binh province in Vietnam to construct a solar cell power system (“Solar Power Project”), and the second was with the Vietnam Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs to provide hardware, software, and training for five vocational colleges (“Vocational Colleges Project”).”

Novartis (2020)

The enforcement action concerned conduct in Greece, Vietnam and South Korea.

As to Vietnam, the allegations concerned Alcon’s (at the time a subsidiary of Novartis) “Vietnam Representative Offices and the Distributor Company engaged in a scheme to bribe Vietnam State [healthcare professionals] [doctors and nurses] in order to increase sales of intraocular lenses.”

Ericsson (2019)

The enforcement action concerned conduct in Djibouti, China, Vietnam, Kuwait, Indonesia, and Saudi Arabia.

As to Vietnam, the allegations concerned the company (through certain employees and agents including those in Vietnam) made approximately “$4.8 million in payments, sometimes in cash, to Consulting Company B (a consulting company formed in Thailand who was retained by Ericsson Vietnam to assist in obtaining business in Vietnam) in order to create off-the-books slush funds to be managed by Sales Agent 4 (a representative of Consulting Company B) and Consulting Company B, with oversight and direction from employees and agents of LM Ericsson’s subsidiaries Ericsson Malaysia and Ericsson Vietnam, and Employee.”

CDM Smith (2017)

The enforcement action concerned conduct in India and Vietnam.

As to Vietnam, although the DOJ’s so-called “declination with disgorgement letter” does not mention Vietnam, in connection with the enforcement action the company stated that it “self-reported improper business activities conducted by a few individuals in the firm’s India and Vietnam operations.”

Joo Hyun Bahn et al (2017)

The enforcement action against various individuals alleged a scheme to pay $2.5 million in bribes to facilitate the $800 million sale of a commercial building in Vietnam.

Analogic (2016)

The enforcement action concerned conduct in Russia, Ghana, Israel, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Vietnam.

As to Vietnam, the allegations stated that the company – through a subsidiary – “participated in hundreds of highly suspicious transactions at its distributors’ direction which posed a significant risk of bribery or other improper conduct. The suspicious transactions involved BK Medical’s distributor in Russia, as well as, to a lesser extent, its distributors in Ghana, Israel, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Vietnam.”

Louis Berger International (2015)

The enforcement action concerned conduct in Indonesia, Vietnam, India and Kuwait.

As to Vietnam, the allegations stated: “In order to obtain and maintain [public service] contracts, the Company through its employees and agents paid bribes to Vietnamese officials through the Foundation [a non-governmental organization which the Company engaged as a local sponsor, and which served as a key source for local labor and operational support in Vietnam.]  Sometimes the bribe money was disguised as ‘donations’ to the Foundation paid from the Company’s bank accounts in New Jersey to a bank account jointly held by the Company and the Foundation in Vietnam.  On other occasions the bribe money was masked by invoices from the Foundation that were paid from the Company’s New Jersey account to a joint account.”

Bio-Rad (2014)

The enforcement action concerned conduct in Russia, Thailand and Vietnam.

As to Vietnam, the allegations stated:  “Between 2005 and the end of 2009, the Vietnam office made improper payments of $2.2 million to agents or distributors, which was funneled to Vietnamese government officials. These bribes, recorded as “commissions,” “advertising fees,” and “training fees,” generated gross sales revenues of $23.7 million to Bio-Rad Singapore. The payment scheme did not involve the use of interstate commerce, and no United States national was involved in the misconduct.”

Tyco (2012)

The enforcement action concerned conduct in China, India, Thailand, Laos, Indonesia, Bosnia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Syria, the United Arab Emirates, Mauritania, Congo, Niger, Madagascar, and Turkey.

As to Vietnam, the allegations stated: “[Between 2001 and 2005] TE Dulmison Thailand [a Thai corporation approximately 66% indirectly owned by Tyco] made nine payments in the amount of approximately $68,426, either directly or through intermediaries, to employees of a public utility owned by the Government of Vietnam and recorded these payments in the books and records of the relevant subsidiaries as ‘cost of goods sold.’”

Aon (2011)

The enforcement action concerned conduct in Costa Rica, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Egypt, Indonesia, Myanmar, Panama, the United Arab Emirates, and Vietnam.

As to Vietnam, the allegations stated that “Aon Limited served as a co-broker on an insurance policy for Vietnam Airlines, a Vietnamese government-owned entity” and a third-party facilitator assisted in securing the account and “company records indicate that the third-party facilitator did not provide legitimate services, but instead transferred some of the money that Aon Limited paid under its consultancy agreement to unidentified individuals referred to as ‘related people.’”

Veraz Networks (2010)

The enforcement action concerned conduct in China and Vietnam.

As to Vietnam, the allegations stated: “Veraz sold products to a telecommunications company controlled by the government of Vietnam through a Singapore-based reseller.” A “Veraz employee, through the Singapore-based reseller, at times made or offered illicit payments to the CEO” of the telecommunications company “in order to win business for Veraz.” Veraz “approved of and reimbursed its employee for questionable expenses related” to the telecommunications company “including gifts and entertainment” for employees of the company and “flowers for the wife of the CEO” of the company.

Daimler (2010)

The enforcement action concerned conduct in at least 22 countries – including China, Croatia, Egypt, Greece, Hungary, Indonesia, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Latvia, Nigeria, Russia, Serbia and Montenegro, Thailand, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam.

As to Vietnam, the allegations stated: “Daimler employees working at Mercedes Benz Vietnam (“MBV”) made improper payments and provided gifts and other things of value to Vietnamese government officials in exchange for business from Vietnamese government owned and controlled customers.” According to the information, “these improper payments were routinely paid to government officials through broker commissions” and the payments were “improperly categorized as broker commissions, cost of goods sold, and/or gifts” in MBV’s books and records.

Nexus Technologies (2008)

The enforcement action concerned conduct in Vietnam. The allegations stated that the company paid “bribes in excess of $250,000 to Vietnamese government officials in exchange for contracts with the agencies and companies for which the bribe recipients worked.”

Siemens (2008)

The enforcement action concerned conduct in Venezuela, China, Israel, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Argentina, Vietnam, Russia, Mexico and Iraq.

As to Vietnam, the allegations stated: “Siemens MED paid $183,000 in early 2005 and $200,000 in early 2006 in connection with the sale of approximately $6 million of medical devices on two projects involving the Vietnamese Ministry of Health. […] In 2002, Siemens COM paid approximately $140,000 in bribes in connectionwith a tender worth approximately $35 million for the supply of equipment and services related to a Global Systems mobile network for Vietel, a government owned telecommunications provider founded by the Vietnamese Ministry of Defense.”

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