Scrutiny alerts and updates, sunshine, year in review roundups, and for the reading stack. It’s all here in the Friday roundup.
Scrutiny Alerts and Updates
The company has been under FCPA scrutiny since at least 2010 and recently disclosed, in pertinent part, as follows.
“The U.S. Department of Justice and the SEC have been conducting an investigation into the Russia GPO deal and potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”). These U.S. enforcement agencies, as well as the Polish Central Anti-Corruption Bureau, are also conducting investigations into potential FCPA violations by an employee of Hewlett-Packard Polska Sp. z o.o., an indirect subsidiary of HP, in connection with certain public-sector transactions in Poland. In addition, the same U.S. enforcement agencies are conducting investigations into certain other public-sector transactions in Russia, Poland, the Commonwealth of Independent States, and Mexico, among other countries. HP is cooperating with these investigating agencies. In addition, HP is in advanced discussions with the U.S. enforcement agencies to resolve their investigations.”
The New York Times returned – yet again (see here and here for prior NY Times article) – to JPMorgan’s hiring practices in China. The article states:
“For Wall Street banks enduring slowdowns in the wake of the financial crisis, China was the last great gold rush. As its economy boomed, China’s state-owned enterprises were using banks to raise billions of dollars in stock and debt offerings — yet JPMorgan was falling further behind in capturing that business. The solution, the executives decided over email, was to embrace the strategy that seemed to work so well for rivals: hire the children of China’s ruling elite.
In the months and years that followed, emails and other confidential documents show, JPMorgan escalated what it called its “Sons and Daughters” hiring program, adding scores of well-connected employees and tracking how those hires translated into business deals with the Chinese government. The previously unreported emails and documents — copies of which were reviewed by The New York Times — offer a view into JPMorgan’s motivations for ramping up the hiring program, suggesting that competitive pressures drove many of the bank’s decisions that are now under federal investigation.
The references to other banks in the emails also paint for the first time a broad picture of questionable hiring practices by other Wall Street banks doing business in China — some of them hiring the same employees with family connections. Since opening a bribery investigation into JPMorgan this spring, the authorities have expanded the inquiry to include hiring at other big banks. Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have previously been identified as coming under scrutiny. A sixth bank, UBS, is also facing scrutiny, according to interviews with current and former Wall Street employees.
The investigation has also had a chilling effect on JPMorgan’s deal-making in China, interviews show. The bank, seeking to build good will with federal authorities, has considered forgoing certain deals in China and abandoned one assignment altogether.”
Once again, the latest NY Times article sparked much commentary. See here, here and here.
Former Siemens Executives
The Buenos Aires Herald reports:
“Seventeen people, including former managers of the Siemens company, were … accused of paying off officials in order to help win a contract to produce the national identity cards …”. The decision was made by Federal Judge Ariel Lijo, who decided to indict them for having allegedly committed bribery.”
Regarding the defendants, the article states:
“Twelve people working for Siemens were included in the indictment: Uriel Jonathan Sharef, Ulrich Albert Otto Fritz Bock, Eberhard George Reichert, Luis Rodolfo Schirado, Andrés Ricardo Truppel, Ernst Michael Brechtel, Bernd Regendatz, Ralph Matthias Kleinhempel and José Alberto Ares. Sharef, for instance, was a member of Siemens’ managing board. He also was the first former board member of a Fortune Global 50 company to be indicted under the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, as happened in 2011. Judge Lijo also charged Carlos Francisco Soriano, Miguel Ángel Czysch and José Antonio David as “middlemen” between the company and Menem’s administration to arrange the payment for benefitting the company in the bid. The magistrate also accused Antonio Justo Solsona, Guillermo Andrés Romero, Orlando Salvestrini, Luis Guillermo Cudmani and Federico Rossi Beguy, who allegedly worked for the company competing in the bid against Siemens IT Services and who presumably agreed not to challenge the government’s decision.”
Allegations regarding the Argentine identity card project were included in the 2008 FCPA enforcement action against Siemens (see here) and also served as the basis for 2011 criminal and civil charges against several former Siemens executives, including those recently charged in Argentina (see here for the prior post summarizing the action).
As noted in this previous post, the U.S. charges against the former Siemens executives were brought after the DOJ faced scrutiny (including at the Senate’s 2010 FCPA hearing) for not bringing any individual enforcement action in connection with a bribery scheme “unprecedented in scale and geographic reach” in which there existed at Siemens a “corporate culture in which bribery was tolerated and even rewarded at the highest levels of the company.”
The U.S. criminal charges against former Siemens executives sits on the docket and a recent docket search indicates that there has not been any activity in the case in over two years.
Mark Cuban, who recently prevailed against the SEC in a long-running insider trading enforcement action, says in this Wall Street Journal article that he is “now considering a new venture publicizing SEC transcripts.” Says Cuban, “I’m going to get as many as I can, and I’ll put it out there.” “Sunshine is the best disinfectant.”
The article further states:
“Mr. Cuban says he isn’t against the SEC as a whole but thinks that the lawyers who work there should be held responsible for their actions. “There’s such a revolving door, and it was run by attorneys with an attorney’s mind-set looking for their next job,” he says. “It’s a résumé builder.” Mr. Cuban says individual lawyers aren’t held accountable because the public is familiar only with the name of the SEC’s chair, Mary Jo White. “No wonder they say or do whatever they damn well please,” he says. “I’m like, ‘OK, I’m going to start calling them out by name.’ George Canellos, co-director of the SEC’s enforcement division, sent a response to Mr. Cuban’s statements through an SEC spokesperson: “Mr. Cuban’s comments are without merit and uncalled for. Our lawyers acted in the finest traditions of government counsel and entirely appropriately in strongly advocating the position of the government in this matter.”
On a related note, did you know that the FCPA Professor Scribd page contains approximately 250 hard to find FCPA documents, pleadings, briefs, etc.
Year In Review Roundups
From the Wall Street Journal Risk & Compliance Journal page – a “Q&A with Asheesh Goel, Ropes & Gray, on The Year in FCPA”
From Trace Blog – “FCPA Corporate Settlements by the Numbers”
From Michael Volkov (Corruption, Crime & Compliance) – “The FCPA Person of the Year – The Prosecutor” and “FCPA Predictions for the New Year – 2014”
From Thomas Fox (FCPA Compliance and Ethics Blog) – “My Favorite Blog Posts from 2013”
Thomas Fox (FCPA Compliance and Ethics Blog) and Jon Rydberg (Orchid Advisor) are out with a new book here titled “Anti-Bribery Leadership: Practical FCPA and U.K Bribery Act Compliance Concepts for the Corporate Board Member, C-Suite Executive and General Counsel.”
A good weekend to all.