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In Connection With 2019 Ericsson Enforcement Action, DOJ Criminally Charges Former Ericsson Employee

Bereket

As highlighted in this prior post, in late 2019 Swedish telecom company Ericsson (a company with American Depositary Shares traded in the U.S.) resolved a $1.06 billion net FCPA enforcement action concerning conduct in Djibouti, China, Vietnam, Kuwait, Indonesia, and Saudi Arabia.

Regarding Djibouti, the enforcement action alleged that Ericsson (through certain subsidiaries and agents) provided approximately $2,100,000 in bribe payments to, and for the benefit of, foreign officials in Djibouti, including a high-ranking government official in the executive branch of the Djibouti government who had influence over decisions made by a state-owned telecommunications company and the CEO of the state-owned telecom company, in order to secure an improper advantage in order to obtain and retain business with the Telecom Company and to win a contract valued at approximately €20,300,000 with the Telecom Company.”

In connection with this prong of the Ericsson enforcement action, the DOJ announced yesterday that Afework “Affe” Bereket (pictured – a dual citizen of Ethiopia and Sweden) was criminally charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering “for his alleged role in a scheme to pay approximately $2.1 million in bribes to high-level government officials in the Republic of Djibouti and conspiring to launder funds to promote the scheme.”

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Same General Script, As DOJ Charges Individual In Connection With Alleged Bribes In Venezuela

wakil

You have likely read the script many times in the last several years.

An individual associated with small privately-held companies does business in Venezuela and paid alleged bribes (and/or laundered money) in connection with the bribery scheme.

The script repeated itself yesterday as the DOJ announced that Naman Wakil (pictured), a Syrian national and U.S. lawful permanent resident, was “arrested in Miami on charges related to his alleged role in a scheme to bribe Venezuelan officials and launder funds to obtain contracts from Venezuela’s state-owned and state-controlled energy company, Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA), and Venezuela’s state-owned and state-controlled food company that purchased food for Venezuela, Corporación de Abastecimiento y Servicios Agrícola (CASA).”

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Former Glencore Trader Pleads Guilty To FCPA And Related Offense

glencore

As highlighted in this prior post, for approximately two years Glencore (a commodities company incorporated in the United Kingdom and headquartered in Switzerland with common stock that trades on the New York based over-the-counter market) has been under scrutiny for conduct in Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Venezuela (as well as perhaps other countries).

Earlier this week Anthony Stimler pleaded guilty to FCPA and money laundering offenses. Stimler is described as a United Kingdom citizen and resident who was a trader at a Glencore subsidiary who worked on the West Africa desk from in or around 2002 until in or around 2009 and then again from in or around June 2011 until in or around August 2019. According to the DOJ “In that role, Stimler had responsibility for crude oil purchases from, among other places, Nigeria, and acted on behalf of Company 1 [Glencore] in procuring crude oil from Nigeria.”

In summary fashion, the criminal information alleges:

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What Do The Numbers Look Like?

numbers

This recent Wall Street Journal article focused on individual DOJ enforcement actions in connection with corporate enforcement actions in the aftermath of the so-called Yates Memo (September 2015) in which the DOJ was supposedly going to place a renewed emphasis “in any corporate case of holding individual wrongdoers accountable.”

The article noted: “between 2016 and 2020, [the DOJ] prosecuted employees in 37% of 146 cases where companies received leniency through so-called deferred or non-prosecution agreements.”

What do the numbers look like specifically in the FCPA context?

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Four Individuals Criminally Charged In Connection With Bolivian Bribery Scheme To Secure Tear Gas Contract

teargas

As the saying goes – where there is smoke there is fire.

Yesterday the DOJ announced that Bryan Berkman, Luis Berkman, Philip Lichtenfeld and Sergio Mendez were criminally charged for their roles in a Bolivian bribery scheme to secure a tear gas contract.

Bryan Berkman, a U.S. citizen, is described as owning a Florida company (“Intermediary Company”) that sold tactical equipment including to the Bolivian Ministry of Defense. According to this article, the company is Bravo Tactical Solutions.

Sergio Mendez, a citizen of Bolivia, served as an official in the Bolivian Ministry of Government from 2019 – 2020.

Luis Berkman, also a U.S. citizen and Bryan’s father, is described as a “close associate” of Mendez as well as an “associate” of co-conspirator 1 (described as a high ranking official in the Bolivian Ministry of Government). According to the same article, Luis runs a Florida based company called International Defense Group.

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