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Rewind: Remembering The DOJ’s Embarrassing Africa Sting Case

Rewind

Twelve years ago this week, one of the most embarrassing DOJ FCPA enforcement actions began – an enforcement action that a federal court judge would ultimately call “a long and sad chapter in the annals of white collar criminal enforcement.”

In January 2010, DOJ announced criminal charges against 22 executives and employees of companies in the military and law enforcement products industry for engaging in a scheme to pay bribes to the minister of defense of an African country.

However, there was no actual involvement from any minister of defense. Rather, FBI agents, with the assistance of an individual who had already pleaded guilty to real, unrelated FCPA offenses (Richard Bistrong), posed as representatives of a Gabonese minister. While it was not the first use of proactive, undercover investigative techniques in an FCPA investigation, it was certainly the largest and most dramatic use of such techniques in the FCPA’s history, and the full force of the government’s surveillance capabilities were used against individuals from mostly small private companies located across America.

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Friday Roundup

Roundup

ISO 37001 airball, from the Inspector General report, scrutiny alert, good lord, marketing an impossible dream, root causes, and yes it is. It’s all here in the Friday roundup.

ISO 37001 Airball

If you have an interest in the non-story of ISO 37001 check out this podcast in which Alexandra Wrage (Trace International) asks some very good questions of a Microsoft representative.

To use a basketball analogy, the Microsoft’s reps answers were air balls full of buzzwords and cliches. 

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Friday Roundup

Roundup

Funny, also funny, corruption in the anti-corruption industry, the head of the DOJ’s FCPA Unit writes, reasons for the general increase in FCPA enforcement, scrutiny alert, asset recovery, and for the reading stack. It’s all here in the Friday roundup.

Funny

This recent FCPA Blog post asked “what’s the most important FCPA case ever” and stated: “The Africa Sting showed how far the feds would go to make a splashy FCPA case. But the final lesson was that using a big sting to concoct a supposed industry-wide conspiracy was a bad idea. The judge didn’t buy it, and neither did a couple of juries.”

Funny that the post doesn’t mention that the the person at the center of this failed, manufactured case was its current Contributing Editor and training partner Richard Bistrong.

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Canada’s “Africa Sting” Moment

Canada2

As noted in various reports, three executives of SNC-Lavalin Group (former SNC vice-president of energy and infrastructure Kevin Wallace, former SNC vice-president of international development Ramesh Shah, and Bangladeshi-Canadian businessman Zulfiquar Ali Bhuiyan) were recently acquitted in connection with a Bangladesh bribery scheme “after an Ontario judge threw out wiretap evidence key to the case, saying the wiretap applications were based on gossip and rumour.”

The recent development follows charges being dropped against two other defendants charged in the same case.

While not a perfect parallel, the recent failed prosecution north of the border is similar in certain respects to the DOJ’s failed, manufactured Africa Sting case.

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Crossing Richard Bistrong

richardbistrong

Today’s post is from Mike Madigan, Paul Calli, and Chas Short who represented individuals in the DOJ’s failed Africa Sting Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action.

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Convicted federal felon Richard Bistrong is speaking at an FCPA Blog conference today about his role in the failed Africa Sting prosecution. In Bistrong’s tout about the occasion, he said “it will be the first time I’ve publicly discussed my role in the Sting” and he dubbed it “one more cross examination about the Africa Sting.”

You may remember the Africa Sting case, in which the government manufactured a fake “crime” with Bistrong at the center and every accused person was vindicated. The truth won out; Bistrong and his FBI puppeteers were unsuccessful.

We won’t be paying money to attend the FCPA Blog conference to hear Bistrong have “one more cross examination.” We’re familiar with the real cross examination. We were there.

In this post, we share our observations regarding Bistrong’s real cross examination and highlight various facts from information and records in the public domain.

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