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Neither Admit Nor Deny Headed to Second Circuit

It is not an FCPA enforcement action, but Judge Rakoff’s recent rejection of the SEC’s neither admit nor deny settlement policy in the Citigroup case (see here) is certainly relevant to the SEC’s enforcement of the FCPA.  Yesterday, the SEC filed a notice of appeal in the Second Circuit.  This will certainly be an issue to watch in the New Year as the SEC’s  resolution policy (”hallowed by history, but not by reason” in the words of Judge Rakoff) goes before the Second Circuit.  See here for Robert Khuzami’s (Director of the SEC Division of Enforcement) statement on the appeal and here for a recent speech delivered by Khuzami in which he talks, in part, on the SEC’s resolution policy.  In yesterday’s statement, Khuzami said that the “new standard adopted by [Judge Rakoff] could in practical terms press the SEC to trial in many more instances ….”.  Jesse Eisinger (ProPublica) asks here does the SEC have trialphobia?

SEC Launches FCPA Site

The SEC recently launched, apparently with little fanfare, a specific FCPA site – see here.  The site contains a list (and in some cases a summary) of SEC FCPA enforcement actions from 1978 to the present, including (for most actions) links to original source documents.  Kudos to the SEC for this FCPA specific site.  The DOJ’s FCPA specific site is here.  Both of these resources, along with others including two new resources mentioned below, can be found on the “Resource Center” pageof  this site.

Big, Bold, and Bizarre

One thing academic publishing is not is fast.  Those cite-checking parties and author revisions take time.  In any event, before the calendar flips to 2012, I am pleased to share my recent article “Big, Bold, and Bizarre:  The Foreign Corrupt Practice Act Enters A New Era” published by the University of Toledo Law Review.  The article can be downloaded here and it is, for the most part, a review and analysis of 2010 FCPA enforcement actions and related developments (current as of January 15, 2011).  For collectors of FCPA Year in Review pieces, my review and analysis of 2009 FCPA enforcement actions and related developments published by the Indiana Law Review can be downloaded here.

Decision Tree

In this first-of-its-kind FCPA/Travel Act “decision tree,” Perkins Coie Partner and former federal prosecutor T. Markus Funk provides in-house counsel and others in the anti-bribery space with a handy, practical analytical tool for walking through the standard range of foreign (and domestic) bribery issues that may come up.  Markus, an FCPA practitioner and who serves as the National Co-Chair of the ABA’s Global Anti-Corruption Task Force, included not only the steps to FCPA liability, but he also integrated the Travel Act’s prohibitions into the comprehensive analysis.  This is a very useful one-stop chart for anyone involved in FCPA issues or likely to encounter foreign bribery issues.

FCPA Database

Richard Cassin of FCPA Blog fame, along with his partners at Ethics360, recently launched the FCPA Database – see here.  On his FCPA Blog (here) Cassin notes that the FCPA Database is “a unique suite of products designed to aid today’s compliance professionals.”  The FCPA Database  includes a searchable collection of current anti-corruption legislation from over 130 countries, information regarding anti-money-laundering laws, privacy laws, enforcement agencies, and a directory of more than 2,000 law firms, and about 1,000 law firm memos on anti-corruption enforcement and compliance.  I’ve spent some time in the database and feel like the holidays have come a bit early as it is a useful research and learning tool.

Bourke Follow-Up

This previous post discussed the Second Circuit’s opinion this week in the Bourke matter.  The post ended by noting that Bourke still had a motion for a new trial pending, but that it was unlikely Judge Scheindin (S.D.N.Y.) would grant that motion.  The FCPA Blog reports here that Judge Scheindin denied the motion for a new trial.

Second Circuit Affirms Bourke’s Conviction

Earlier today the Second Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision (here) affirming Frederic Bourke’s 2009 conviction of conspiring to violate the FCPA and the Travel Act and of making false statements.

The Bourke appeal was principally based on knowledge issues which present narrow, factually unique issues.   Nevertheless the Second Circuit’s holding on conscious avoidance is noteworthy in terms of FCPA jurisprudence.  Essentially the court held that Bourke enabled himself to participate in a bribery scheme without acquiring actual knowledge of the specific conduct at issue and that such conscious avoidance, even if supported primarily by circumstantial evidence, is sufficient to warrant an FCPA-related charges.  The message to international investors should be clear, if a potential investment results in sleepless nights and fear of asking specific direct questions because of the answers you might receive, there is probably better uses for your money.

Brian Whisler (an FCPA practitioner at Baker & McKenzie – see here) who has been following the case offered the following.  “Despite the considerable speculation surrounding this case, today’s Second Circuit opinion affirming Mr. Bourke’s conviction came with little surprise, as the standard on review is so heavily weighted in favor of the government when defendants challenge the sufficiency of the evidence underlying their convictions.  The Court found that a rational juror could infer from the totality of the evidence that Mr. Bourke deliberately avoided confirming his suspicious aroused by multiple red flags signaling corruption and that the same evidence could establish his knowledge about the crime.  Given DOJ’s aggressive pursuit of individual executives, this precedent is instructive, particularly for purposes of defining willful blindness.”

Before turning to the Second Circuit’s decision, a bit of background.  The Bourke case is arguably the most complex and convoluted case in the history of the FCPA and focuses on the conduct of Bourke and others – including most notably Viktor Kozeny (who is enjoying life in the Bahamas) – in a bribery scheme connected to the privatization of the Azerbaijan state-owned oil company, SOCAR.  The case largely focused on the FCPA’s knowledge element and whether Bourke, as an investor, had sufficient knowledge of the bribery scheme.

As noted in this previous post when Bourke was sentenced to 366 days in November 2009, the case involved a nearly decade long investigation that spanned the globe, dismissal of FCPA substantive charges on statute of limitations grounds, reinstatement of the FCPA substantive charges,  a superseding indictment which then dropped the FCPA substantive charges and a six week jury trial.  For additional background on the case, see this superb piece by Andrew Longstreth that appeared in the American Lawyer.

Bespeaking the complex nature of the case, in November 2009 when Judge Shira Scheindin (S.D.N.Y.)  sentenced Bourke she stated as follows.  “After years of supervising this case, it’s still not entirely clear to me whether Mr. Bourke is a victim or a crook or a little bit of both.”

A previous post (here) outlined Bourke’s appeal.

The Second Circuit’s opinion begins as follows.  “On appeal, Bourke vigorously attacks his conviction on several fronts, including the (1) correctness of the jury instructions given, (2) the propriety of certain evidentiary rulings made by the district court, and (3) the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the false statements conviction. For the reasons given below, we affirm.”

After a detailed discussion of the facts, the Court focused on the jury instructions and stated as follows.  “Bourke challenges the jury instructions on four primary grounds. First, he argues the district court erred in refusing to instruct the jury that it needed to agree unanimously on a single overt act committed in furtherance of the conspiracy. Second, he argues the district court improperly charged the jury on conscious avoidance because (1) there was no factual basis for such a charge; and (2) the government waived its reliance on the conscious avoidance theory. Third, he argues the district court erred by failing to instruct the jury that the government needed to prove Bourke acted “corruptly” and “willfully” to sustain a conviction on FCPA conspiracy. Finally, he argues the district court erred in failing to give the jury Bourke’s proposed good-faith instruction.”

As to overt acts, the Court held that “the jury need not agree on a single overt act to sustain a conspiracy conviction.”  The court stated as follows.  “We conclude, therefore, that although proof of at least one overt act is necessary to prove an element of the crime, which overt act among multiple such acts supports proof of a conspiracy conviction is a brute fact and not itself element of the crime. The jury need not reach unanimous agreement on which particular overt act was committed in furtherance of the conspiracy.”

As to conscious avoidance, the Court disagreed with Bourke’s argument that a conscious avoidance charge lacked a factual predicate and stated as follows.  “While the government’s primary theory at trial was that he had actual knowledge of the bribery scheme, there is ample evidence to support a conviction based on the alternate theory of conscious avoidance. The testimony at trial demonstrated that Bourke was aware of how pervasive corruption was in Azerbaijan generally.   Bourke knew of Kozeny’s reputation as the “Pirate of Prague.”  Bourke created the American advisory companies to shield himself and other American investors from potential liability from payments made in violation of FCPA, and joined the boards of the American companies instead of joining the Oily Rock board.   In so doing, Bourke enabled himself to participate in the investment without acquiring actual knowledge of Oily Rock’s undertakings. The strongest evidence demonstrating that Bourke willfully avoided learning whether corrupt payments were made came from tape recordings of a May 18, 1999 phone conference with Bourke, fellow investor Friedman and their attorneys, during which Bourke voiced concerns about whether Kozeny and company were paying bribes.  […]  Finally, Bourke’s attorney testified that he advised Bourke that if Bourke thought there might be bribes paid, Bourke could not just look the other way. Taken together, a rational juror could conclude that Bourke deliberately avoided confirming his suspicions that Kozeny and his cohorts may be paying bribes.”

The Court further stated as follows.  “It is not uncommon for a finding of conscious avoidance to be supported primarily by circumstantial evidence. Indeed, the very nature of conscious avoidance makes it unlikely that the record will contain directly incriminating statements. Just as it is rare to find direct record evidence of an employer stating, “I am not going to give you a raise because you are a woman,” it is highly unlikely a defendant will provide direct record evidence of conscious avoidance by saying, “Stop! I think you are about to discuss a crime and I want to be able to deny I know anything about it!” Here, the evidence adduced by the government at trial suffices to support the giving of a conscience avoidance charge.”

The Court specifically rejected Bourke’s argument that the conscious avoidance charge improperly allowed the jury to convict him based on negligence, rather than based on evidence that he avoided learning the truth.  The Court stated as follows.  “[T]he record contains ample evidence that Bourke had serious concerns about the legality of Kozeny’s business practices and worked to avoid learning exactly what Kozeny was doing.”  Moreover, the Court stated that the “district court specifically charged the jury not to convict based on negligence [and] there is no reason to suspect that the jury ignored that instruction.”

As to mens rea, the Court found no error in the district court’s jury instruction that to convict the jury had to find that Bourke knew of the conspiracy’s object and that Bourke intended for that object to be accomplished.    The Court found that “the district court properly instructed the jury that it must find Bourke knowingly entered into a conspiracy that had the object of corruptly and willfilly bribing foreign officials and that Bourke intended to aid in achieving this object.”  In so holding, the Court stated that Bourke’s requested jury instruction that would have required the jury to “find Bourke willfully and corruptly joined a conspiracy to willfully and corruptly bribe foreign governments” was an “absurd result unsupported by the law.”

As to Bourke’s proposed good faith instruction, the Court stated as follows.  “Even assuming arguendo that Bourke’s proposed instruction was legally correct with an adequate basis in the record, his argument fails because the theory was effectively presented elsewhere” in the jury instructions and the “failure to give a specific good faith charge does not require reversal.”

Does the Second Circuit’s decision mark the end of the road for Bourke?  Perhaps not, his request for a new trial – based on the theory that a key witness offered false testimony – is still pending.  The Second Circuit’s decision does not address Bourke’s pending request, but in light of its decision, it is unlikely that Judge Scheindin will grant Bourke’s motion.

Judge (Again) Significantly Rejects DOJ’s Recommendations In Sentencing Nexus Defendants

As noted in this DOJ release, last week several defendants in the Nexus Technologies enforcement action (see here for prior posts) were sentenced. Because many media sources merely regurgitate DOJ releases in such instances, this post may be the first you’ll learn that the sentencing judge in the Nexus matter significantly rejected the DOJ’s sentencing recommendations.

For instance, and as described more fully below, the DOJ sought a 14-17 year sentence for lead defendant Nam Nguyen, but the judge sentenced him to 16 months (plus 2 years of supervised release).

Further, the DOJ sought multi-year sentences for two defendants, but the judge sentenced them to probation.

The DOJ’s sentencing memoranda (see here for the 79 pages of collective material) provide an interesting read and clearly demonstrate the growing divide between how the DOJ views FCPA defendants and how judges view such defendants at sentencing. For instance, Judge Shira Scheindin stated at Frederic Bourke’s sentencing (see here) “after years of supervising this case, it’s still not entirely clear to me whether Mr. Bourke is a victim or a crook or a little bit of both.”

The DOJ stated in Nam Nguyen’s sentencing memo that its recommendation (168-210 months) should be accepted “to promote general deterrence” and that conduct such as Nguyen’s “will hardly be deterred by sending the message that the consequences of such conduct is at worst several months of imprisonment.”

Yet, the judge still sentenced Nam Nguyen to 16 months (plus 2 years of supervised release).

Also of note is that the DOJ criticized Nam Nguyen for “subjectively” looking at the “history of FCPA sentencing, focusing on the statistical outlier of the case U.S. v. Green … but ignoring the more common cases of significant prison time” such as “Charles Jumet, who paid less than 1/3 of what Nguyen paid in bribes, but received 87 months’ imprisonment.”

Let me assert that it is the DOJ who is “subjectively” looking at the “history of FCPA sentencing” and that Jumet is the “statistical outlier” – not sentences such as of the Greens.

Indeed, it is very common for FCPA defendants to be sentenced to prison terms measured in days and months, not years.

Consider the following recent sentences:

Greens – 6 months (August 2010)

Frederic Bourke – 366 days (November 2009)

Jim Bob Brown – 366 days (January 2010)

Jason Edward Steph – 15 months (January 2010)

The below post provides an overview of the Nexus sentences as well as the DOJ’s sentencing memos.

Nam Nguyen

Sentence: 16 months, 2 years of supervised release

DOJ Recommendation: 168-210 months

In its sentencing memorandum, the DOJ stated that Nguyen “paid bribes to multiple Vietnamese government officials in exchange for contracts for his business” and that “Nguyen literally offered a bribe on every single contract bid over a period of more than nine years …”.

DOJ sought a four-level sentencing enhancement “because the offense involved a public official in a high-level decision-making or sensitive position.” Specifically, the DOJ asserted that Nguyen paid bribes to “Nguyen Van Tan, who was the Managing Director of T&T Co. Ltd. … the procurement arm of Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Safety.”

Other items of interest from the DOJ’s sentencing memorandum.

In a footnote, the DOJ asserts that “the court has ruled in favor of the government” on the “foreign official” issue briefed in the case. However, as noted in this prior post, the DOJ specifically argued throughout its brief that a court decision as to this issue was premature. What actually happened is that the judge denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss without comment or analysis. The DOJ stated in the same footnote that because Nguyen’s counsel discussed the “foreign official” issue in his sentencing memorandum, that this “raises serious questions as to whether or not he has actually accepted responsibility for his crimes.”

The DOJ memo contains “Exhibit A” – a chart detailing the “Sentences of Natural Persons Who Pleaded Guilty to FCPA Violations Since 2001.”

The chart is misleading.

Nowhere in the chart does it indicate, nor in the brief referencing the chart is it noted, that the sentences are not just for FCPA violations, but, in many cases, sentences based on other violations of law as well.

For instance, in the longest sentence on the DOJ’s chart – Charles Jumet (87 months) nowhere is it noted that the “FCPA” portion of the sentence was actually lower. Jumet pleaded guilty to two counts – conspiracy to violate the FCPA and making false statements to federal agents. The false statements portion of his sentence was 20 months. Thus, Jumet’s “FCPA” sentence was 60 months – not 87 months as suggested by the DOJ’s chart.

An Nguyen

Sentence: 9 months, 3 years of supervised release (notwithstanding that, per the DOJ’s sentencing memorandum, Nguyen was on probation at the time of his offense)

DOJ Recommendation: 87-108 months

In its sentencing memorandum the DOJ stated that Nguyen “paid bribes to multiple Vietnamese government officials in exchange for contracts for his family’s business.” Elsewhere in the memo, the DOJ states that “Nguyen’s bribery was particularly egregious.” In connection with its decision not to seek a sentencing enhancement for an offense involving a public official in a high-level decision-making or sensitive position, the DOJ noted that “Nguyen was unaware of the nature, position, or role of the specific officials who received the bribe payments.”

Kim Nguyen

Sentence: 2 years probation

DOJ Recommendation: 70-87 months (even after the DOJ’s downward departure recommendation)

The DOJ requested a Section 5K1.1 downward departure. The DOJ noted that “even though Kim Nguyen did not begin providing information to the government until shortly before trial” this information nevertheless “appeared to play a role in her siblings’ decisions to plead guilty.” The DOJ noted that “Nguyen met with the government on approximately two occasions to explain the business practices and financial records of Nexus Technologies” and “explained various entries in the Nexus books which allowed the government accurately to calculate the total amount of bribes paid by the defendants …”

In its sentencing memo, the DOJ stated that “Nguyen played a critical role in this conspiracy, as she was the person responsible for handling the finances and maintaining the books and records of Nexus.” The DOJ stated that Nguyen “funneled the bribe payments to an off-shore company controlled by Nexus, which then forwarded the bribe payments to the Vietnamese officers, and it was Kim Nguyen who falsified the associated wire-transfer documents to cover their tracks.” The DOJ further asserted that e-mail correspondence “makes it very clear that Kim Nguyen knew exactly what she was doing, and why.” As with An Nguyen, the DOJ did not seek a sentencing enhancement for Kim Nguyen and noted that “Kim Nguyen was unaware of the nature, position, or role of the specific officials who received the bribe payments.”

Joseph Lukas

Sentence: 2 years probation

DOJ Recommendation: 37-46 months (even after the DOJ’s downward departure recommendation)

The DOJ requested a Section 5K1.1 downward departure. The DOJ noted that Lukas “met with the government on approximately seven separate occasions over the course of approximately 1.5 years and explained everything he knew about his co-defendants, their criminal conduct, their personal histories, and their business records.” According to the DOJ, “Lukas also created spreadsheets of information for the government, voluntarily turned over his computer for government analysis, and spent hours upon hours poring through documents in order to explain the business practices of Nexus Technologies and the Nguyen siblings.”

In its sentencing memorandum, the DOJ stated that “Lukas helped Nexus Technologies pay bribes to multiple Vietnamese government officials in exchange for contracts.” According to the DOJ, “Lukas was responsible for vendor relations and negotiations in the United States (which included identifying vendors who could supply the requested goods at low enough prices to allow the bribe payments.)”.


As to the Greens’ sentence, the DOJ noted in footnote 8 of Nam Nguyen’s sentencing memo that the “DOJ is considering appealing the sentence in that case.”

Another Stumble For The DOJ In The Kozeny Affair

The DOJ continues to encounter problems in some of its signature FCPA prosecutions.

Earlier this month, it was the Giffen Gaffe (see here).

Last fall, U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindin (S.D.N.Y.) remarked at Fredrick Bourke’s sentencing that “after years of supervising this case, it’s still not entirely clear to me whether Mr. Bourke is a victim or a crook or a little bit of both.” (See here).

And then there is Victor Kozeny, indicted along with Bourke, and the alleged mastermind of the fraudulent investment scheme related to the privatization of state-owned businesses in the Republic of Azerbaijan.

In 2005, Kozeny was criminally charged (see here) with, among other charges, one count of engaging in a conspiracy to violate the FCPA and twelve counts of violating the FCPA.

To make a long story short, Kozeny remains the most famous FCPA fugitive living a comfortable life in the Bahamas. The DOJ’s repeated efforts to extradite him from the Bahamas to the U.S. have failed. See here.

In the indictment, the DOJ asserted that “Peak House” a multi-million dollar property in Aspen, Colorado was the site of certain of Kozeny’s criminal activity.

Peak House was sold in 2001 for approximately $22 million and the DOJ sought civil forfeiture of the funds it alleged were connected to Kozeny’s criminal activity.

However, U.S. District Court Judge Harold Baer (S.D.N.Y.) recently concluded that the DOJ’s attempt was barred by the statute of limitations.

This latest DOJ setback in the Kozeny affair would seem embarrassing for the DOJ given that Judge Baer criticized the DOJ’s lack of diligence in even attempting to file a civil forfeiture suit in a timely fashion.

Judge Baer concludes his opinion (see here) by stating:

“It is unfortunate that this action, which appears to have some merit and involves a substantial amount of funds, must be dismissed on procedural grounds, but there is no question that the Government learned of the Peak House funds at the very latest by 2005 and sat on its hands until 2009.”

Brian Whisler (here), a former federal prosecutor and current partner in
Baker & McKenzie’s white collar practice and individual who brought this decision to my attention, noted that “this defeat on procedural grounds represents yet another bump in the road for DOJ in the Bourke/Kozeny matter and suggests that DOJ will likely persist in its pursuit of Kozeny now that a criminal conviction is legally required to effect forfeiture of the sale proceeds of Kozeny’s Aspen home and other assets.”

Outlining Bourke’s Appeal

The DOJ recently filed its reply brief (here) in Frederic Bourke’s appeal.

A prior post (here) summarized the FCPA related issues in Bourke’s brief and this post summarizes the DOJ’s reply brief.

The DOJ begins with this paragraph:

“The evidence at trial established that Bourke, a successful entrepreneur and multi-millionaire, knowingly backed rogue investor Viktor Kozeny in a corrupt plan to purchase the state-owned Azerbaijani oil industry, in secret partnership with the president of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev, and his family. The corrupt plan included the payment of bribes to Aliyev and other officials.”

The DOJ states – “[a]t some point, Bourke learned about Kozeny’s business success and strategies from a December 1996 Fortune magazine article.” The brief states that the article “detailed Kozeny’s insider trading, purchase of state secrets from a government official, and other fraudulent activity.” According to the DOJ, “[h]aving read the article and discussed it with his lawyers, Bourke was aware of Kozeny’s questionable business practices; but Bourke was impressed by the outsized profits Kozeny generated in this scheme, and, as Bourke would later tell a prospective investor, Kozeny had not actually been convicted of a crime.”

Bourke’s trial principally focused on his investments in Oily Rock, a vehicle the government maintains was used to funnel bribe payments to Azerbaijan officials to ensure that the officials would privatize the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) in a rigged auction that only the investors, including Bourke, Kozeny and others could win.

The DOJ states that “Bourke made his initial investment in Oily Rock without directing any of his many lawyers to conduct due diligence.”

According to the DOJ:

“Bourke’s interest in the investment was motivated by his knowledge of the corrupt arrangement. Because Bourke knew of the payments to Azerbaijani officials, Bourke demonstrated an assured confidence in the success of the privatization, even though most of the investors who were not privy to the details of the conspiracy viewed it as extremely risky. The inherent risk in the investment arose from the fact that the privatization of SOCAR required a presidential decree.”

The DOJ nevertheless acknowledges that many others invested, directly or indirectly, in Oily Rock including former U.S. Senator George Mitchell and other individuals, institutional investors and hedge funds, AIG and Columbia University.

Bourke’s appellate brief argued that the district court “committed a series of errors that crippled Bourke’s mens rea defense.”

Below is a summary of Bourke’s arguments along with the DOJ’s response as set forth in its reply brief.


“The district court improperly instructed on conscious avoidance, despite the absence of evidence that Bourke deliberately avoided knowledge of Kozeny’s bribes.” According to Bourke, this instruction was error “because there was no evidence that Bourke deliberately avoided learning about Kozeny’s bribery.” Bourke states that the conscious avoidance instruction “was particularly damaging because the government presented evidence and argued that Bourke failed to exercise adequate due diligence, thus exacerbating the risk inherent in the conscious avoidance instruction that the jury would convict for negligence or recklessness.


“There was an ample factual basis for a conscious avoidance charge in this case. To be sure, the Government’s principal theory at trial was that Bourke had actual knowledge of the bribery scheme. But the jury easily could have found, in the alternative, that Bourke was aware of a high probability of the existence of corrupt arrangements, yet deliberately avoided confirming that fact. Such a finding would have been supported, by, among other things, the following evidence:

• Bourke was aware of the high level of corruption in Azerbaijan generally.

• Bourke had read a Fortune magazine article that described Kozeny’s reliance on illegal business practices, such as insider trading, purchase of state secrets from a government official, and fraud, to accomplish the goals of a privatization scheme. This article alerted Bourke that there was a high probability that Kozeny’s latest scheme involving Azerbaijan also included corrupt arrangements, such as bribe payments or offers to pay bribes.

• Bourke defended Kozeny by stating that he had not actually been convicted of a crime.

• Bourke expressed concern to other investors and their attorneys that Kozeny and his employees were paying bribes.

• Bourke proposed the formation of separate companies affiliated with Oily Rock and Minaret to shield Bourke and other American investors from liability from any corrupt payments.

• Bourke played a role in coordinating United States medical treatments, combined with tourism and shopping excursions, for Azerbaijani officials.

From these facts, among others, a rational juror could have concluded that Bourke was aware of a high probability of the existence of corrupt arrangements, yet deliberately avoided confirming that fact. Accordingly, Bourke is wrong when he suggests that a conscious avoidance was inappropriate because ‘the trial record contains no evidence that Bourke ‘decided not to learn’ about Kozeny’s bribery.’ In fact, a conscious avoidance instruction was particularly appropriate in this case, because Bourke’s corporate attorney had actually cautioned him that, if he thought there might be bribes paid, he could not just look the other way.”

“Bourke’s assertion that the conscious avoidance instruction allowed the jury to convict on a negligence theory is mistaken. To the contrary, the District Court told the jury that it could not find Bourke guilty merely because he was negligent. The Government did not argue that the jury should convict because Bourke was negligent in failing to ask his lawyers to conduct due diligence. Rather, the Government argued that Bourke refrained from asking his lawyers to conduct due diligence either because he was consciously avoiding learning about the bribes or because he did not want his lawyers to learn the true facts of his corrupt investment.”

“In sum, a rational juror could have concluded based on, among other things, Bourke’s close relationship to Kozeny and other co-conspirators, Bourke’s understanding of the Azerbaijan investment and the Azerbaijani government, and Bourke’s previously expressed concerns about Kozeny’s paying of bribes, that Bourke was aware of a high probability that Kozeny was paying bribes but deliberately avoided confirming that fact. Accordingly, the District Court properly instructed the jury on the doctrine of conscious avoidance.”

“Even if the District Court erred in instructing the jury on the doctrine of conscious avoidance (and it did not), the error would provide no basis for vacating Bourke’s conviction. This Court has repeatedly ruled that a conscious avoidance instruction is harmless in cases where, as here, there was sufficient evidence of the defendant’s actual knowledge to support the jury’s verdict.”

“Moreover, conscious avoidance was not a prominent feature of the Government’s arguments to the jury. Although the Government did refer to evidence of Bourke’s conscious avoidance, the Government’s primary argument was that Bourke had actual knowledge of the bribes.”


The district court erred in admitting testimony about the due diligence performed by Texas Pacific Group (“TPG”), an investment fund that did not make the same investment as Bourke, because its lawyers advised of the FCPA risk.

According to Bourke, because he knew nothing about their work, their testimony was irrelevant to his state of mind particularly since the results were never shared or communicated with him.

Bourke states that “the government offered the testimony […] solely as a contrast with the comparatively skimpy inquiry that Bourke and his lawyers performed” and that this testimony “increased the risk, created by the conscious avoidance instruction and heightened by the government’s closing, that the jury would convict Bourke based on his negligence or recklessness — what he should have known, rather than what he actually knew.”

Bourke further argues that having admitted the TPG testimony, “the district court should at least have permitted Bourke to present the contrasting testimony” of the head of investments for Columbia University that would have established that “Columbia invested $15 million with Kozeny in Azeri privatization after due diligence comparable to Bourke’s.”

According to Bourke, this excluded testimony “would have rebutted the government’s claim that his lack of due diligence compared to TPG established his culpability.”

Bourke argues that “once the district court permitted the government to present TPG’s due diligence as a benchmark for measuring [his] inquiry, fairness demanded that [he] be allowed to present the contrasting picture of Columbia’s due diligence, which resembled his own.”


“The testimony of Wheeler and Rossman [individuals who conducted due diligence for potential Oily Rock investor David Bonderman of TPG] was not offered to show Bourke was negligent; the purpose was to show that Kozeny had not concealed evidence of the corrupt arrangements from potential investors in Oily Rock. Given that Bourke was much closer to Kozeny than Bonderman was, this was important circumstantial evidence of Bourke’s knowledge. As such, the testimony was relevant and appropriately admitted by the District Court.”

“To conduct due diligence on the Oily Rock investment, at Kozeny’s invitation, Wheeler traveled to Baku with Bourke and several other potential investors; together, they toured Kozeny’s operations and were introduced to Azerbaijani government officials. Based on what she saw during her visit and her assessment that the investment was “risky [in] nature”, Wheeler and Bonderman brought in TPG’s outside counsel, Cleary Gottlieb, to perform due diligence. Rossman testified that, in 1998, he was a Cleary Gottlieb attorney. During that time, he was asked to conduct due diligence on the Oily Rock investment for TPG. As a part of due diligence, Rossman met with Bodmer at Bodmer’s law offices. During this meeting, Bodmer provided Rossman with various documents related to the Oily Rock investment, and Bodmer and Rossman discussed various details regarding the investment, including the involvement of Azerbaijani investors. Based on his review of documents, his understanding of the investment thesis, and Kozeny’s reputation, which he researched from news coverage, Rossman concluded that this proposed investment could violate the FCPA, and he advised his client not to make the investment. TPG did not invest in Oily Rock.”

“… Wheeler and Rossman’s testimony was appropriately admitted, because Bourke was exposed at minimum to the same sources of information as Wheeler and Rossman — Wheeler and Bourke took the same factfinding trip to Baku in January 1998, and Rossman, like Bourke, learned of the investment structure from Bodmer. Accordingly, this testimony was probative of Bourke’s knowledge.”

“… the District Court’s decision to admit Wheeler and Rossman’s testimony was entirely appropriate. Moreover, given the volume of direct and circumstantial evidence of Bourke’s knowledge of the conspiracy’s objectives, any conceivable error was harmless.”

“Bourke also contends that the District Court erred in barring the testimony of Bruce Dresner, who served as Columbia University’s Vice President for Investments in 1998, and, in that capacity, based on representations by Omega’s Clayton Lewis and Leon Cooperman, recommended that Columbia invest $15 million in privatization vouchers through Omega. Bourke complains that, although the Government was permitted to call Wheeler and Rossman to contrast their due diligence with Bourke’s, he was not permitted to contrast his due diligence with Columbia’s. The comparison is inapt. Unlike Wheeler and Rossman, who testified about a potential investment in Oily Rock itself, Columbia University was a potential investor in Omega, which was merely planning to invest alongside Oily Rock. The District Court did not abuse its discretion in excluding this proposed testimony.”

“The District Court properly precluded Dresner’s testimony because it was not relevant. As the District Court stated, Dresner’s state of mind “has nothing to do with the defendant on trial.” Unlike other defense witnesses and Government witnesses who were present in Baku with Bourke to consider an investment in Oily Rock and therefore possessed relevant information regarding Bourke’s knowledge, Dresner had no contact with Bourke and was considering investing in Omega, not Oily Rock. Dresner never traveled to Azerbaijan to investigate the investment opportunity, relying instead on the recommendation of Omega. Dresner never met Kozeny, Farrell, or Bodmer — the individuals who discussed the FCPA violations with Bourke.”

“In addition, Dresner’s testimony would not have been particularly helpful to Bourke, and therefore any error in excluding the testimony would have been harmless. Notwithstanding Dresner’s exclusion, Bourke offered evidence through several Government and defense witnesses that Columbia University had invested in the same project, and there was no suggestion in any of that testimony or in arguments that Columbia University was aware of bribes or was prosecuted. Thus, Bourke was able to establish that some investors in the Azerbaijani vouchers were not aware of the bribes. Had Dresner actually testified, he would have revealed that Columbia and Bourke were not similarly situated and that Columbia had much less information about the investment than Bourke did.”

“In sum, the District Court acted within its discretion in excluding Dresner’s testimony, and this ruling does not warrant a new trial.”


The district court “refused to instruct that conviction for conspiracy requires the same mens rea as the underlying FCPA offense — meaning (among other things) a bad purpose to disobey or disregard the law.”

According to Bourke, “the district court compounded its error in giving the conscious avoidance instruction by rejecting [his] requested instruction [as to the conspiracy charge] that the government had to prove that he acted corruptly and willfully.”

Bourke argued that “when the district court turned to the mens rea required for the conspiracy offense, rather than for a substantive FCPA offense, it omitted the requirement that the defendant act corruptly” and that this “watering-down of the mens rea requirement for the conspiracy charged […] undermined [his] defense, which rested on his state of mind.”


“Bourke did not lodge this objection in this District Court, and therefore, this part of the charge is reviewed for plain error. The District Court’s mens rea instruction was correct and was certainly not plainly erroneous.”

“The District Court instructed the jury on all the elements of a substantive FCPA violation, including the requirement that the defendant act “willfully” and “corruptly,” terms which the Court defined for the jury.”

“The District Court’s charge encompassed the mens rea elements of the FCPA and was not plainly erroneous. The “word ‘corruptly’ in the FCPA signifies . . . a bad or wrongful purpose and an intent to influence a foreign official to misuse his official position. But there is nothing in the word or any thing else in the FCPA that indicates that the government must establish that the defendant in fact knew that his or her conduct violated the FCPA to be guilty.”

“The District Court’s extensive instructions on mens rea included the instruction that Bourke had to act “with the specific intention of furthering [the conspiracy’s] business or objective” and “for the purpose of furthering the illegal undertaking.” It is simply not possible to conspire to act corruptly without acting corruptly.”

“Finally, Bourke failed to raise this highly abstract objection during any of the several conferences on the jury charge.”

“Accordingly, the charge is subject to review only for plain error. There was no error, much less plain error, in this case.”


The district court “rejected Bourke’s proposed good faith instructions, even though [he] produced ample evidence to warrant the instructions and no other instruction covered the point.”

Bourke argued that his proposed instruction “accurately reflected the principle that a defendant’s good faith belief that he acted lawfully negates the mens rea for specific intent offenses.”

While Bourke concedes that his efforts to investigate the investment “were not as extensive” as others, his efforts “suffice for a good faith instruction.” Because the case turned on his state of mind, Bourke states that “there is no doubt that the good faith defense, if accepted by the jury, would have produced an acquittal.”


“Bourke’s contention is without merit. A separate good faith instruction was not necessary in this case, as the relevant jury instructions effectively communicated the essence of a good faith defense in its discussion of the elements of knowledge and willfulness.”

“Indeed, the District Court’s instructions that an FCPA violation required a defendant to act “with a bad purpose to disobey or disregard the law” and that the Government could not meet its burden of proof by showing that the defendant’s actions were the result of “mere negligence or some other innocent explanation” captured the concepts identified in Bourke’s proposed charge — that Bourke could not be convicted of Count One if he believed he “was acting properly in connection with the matters alleged in [Count One], even if he was mistaken in that belief, and even if others were injured by his conduct.” […] Thus, the good faith instructions Bourke requested were “effectively presented elsewhere in the charge.” Accordingly, the District Court’s decision not to deliver a separate good faith charge was appropriate and does not provide a basis for a new trial.”


“Any one of the errors concerning [his] knowledge of Kozeny’s bribes and his specific criminal intent, standing alone, warrants reversal” and if any one error is harmless in isolation, then their “cumulative effect profoundly damaged [his] defense.”


“Bourke contends correctly that the cumulative effect of errors that are individually harmless can cast doubt upon the fairness of a conviction. For the reasons set forth above, there were no such errors. Accordingly, Bourke’s “cumulative effect” argument provides no basis for granting a new trial.”

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