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Court Dismisses Criminal FCPA (And Related Charges) Against Rafoi-Bleuler For Lack Of Jurisdiction And Also Hints That The Term “Agent” In The FCPA Is Unconstitutionally Vague

Dismissed

As highlighted in this prior post, in 2019 Daisy Rafoi-Bleuler (a citizen of Switzerland and partner in a Swiss Wealth Management firm) became the latest individual to be criminally charged with Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and related offenses for allegedly directing bribes to various individuals at PDVSA (Venezuela’s state-owned and state-controlled energy company).

According to the DOJ, Rafoi opened Swiss bank accounts and facilitated financial transactions for various co-conspirators to help facilitate the bribery scheme.

As highlighted in this post, in late October 2020 Rafoi-Bleuler filed a motion to dismiss the criminal charges. In summary fashion, the motion argued: “The indictment of Ms. Rafoi-Bleuler, a citizen and resident of Switzerland, continues the worrisome trend by the Department of Justice to stretch the reach of the United States’ criminal statutes beyond Congress’ intent in an attempt to police the world. Despite having violated no laws in Switzerland and having no contact with the United States …, Ms. Rafoi-Bleuler finds herself hailed into a U.S. court in contravention of clear statutory language, legal precedent, and international norms. Courts have increasingly, and correctly, rejected such attempts by the government and this Court should continue as well …”.

Recently, Judge Kenneth Hoyt (S.D. Tex.) granted the motion to dismiss.

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Ng’s Motion To Dismiss Denied – Judge States That Internal Controls Provisions Can Be Implicated Even In Transactions In Which An Issuer Does Not Use Its Own Assets To Pay An Alleged Bribe

JudgeBrodie

As highlighted in this prior post, in November 2018 the DOJ criminally charged former Goldman Sachs executives Tim Leissner and Ng Chong Hwa (Roger Ng) (along with Low Taek Jho – Jho Low) with Foreign Corrupt Practices Act offenses for paying bribes to various Malaysian and Abu Dhabi officials in connection with 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), Malaysia’s state-owned and state-controlled investment development company.

Leissner pleaded guilty and in October 2020 Goldman Sachs resolved a net $1.66 billion FCPA enforcement action based on the same conduct. (See additional posts here and here).

Previous posts here, here and here highlighted Ng’s motion to dismiss in which he argues that the DOJ’s case against him suffers from several factual errors and legal deficiencies. Ng also suggested that the DOJ scripted Leissner’s guilty plea and that Goldman’s DPA was entered into for reasons of risk aversion and otherwise compromises his ability to defend himself.

As to FCPA specific issues, Ng argued as follows:

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First Circuit Affirms New Trial For Joseph Baptiste And Roger Boncy Based On Ineffective Assistance Of Counsel

Judicial Decision

In 2017 (in connection with an undercover string) the DOJ unsealed criminal charges against Joseph Baptiste (a retired U.S. Army Colonel, practicing dentist, and founder / president of a Maryland-based Haitian focused non-profit) for alleged Haitian bribery.  In 2018 the DOJ added criminal charges against Roger Boncy in connection with the same core conduct. (See here).

Unlike most individual FCPA defendants, Baptiste and Boncy put the DOJ to its burden of proof and in June 2019, after a two-week trial, a federal jury in Boston found Baptiste guilty of one count of violating the Travel Act and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and Boncy guilty of one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and the Travel Act. (See here).

Thereafter, in post-trial motions the defendants sought an acquittal or a new trial based on ineffective assistance of counsel. (See here). In March 2020, U.S. District Court Judge Allison Burroughs (D. Mass.) granted Baptiste and Boncy a new trial based on ineffective assistance of counsel. (See here).

As discussed here, the DOJ appealed to the First Circuit and yesterday the court affirmed a new trial for the defendants.

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Second Circuit Affirms Ho’s FCPA And Related Convictions

Ho

As described in this prior post, in late 2018 Chi Ping Patrick Ho was found guilty at trial of Foreign Corrupt Practices Ac and money laundering violations in connection with alleged bribery schemes in Chad and Uganda on behalf of China Energy Fund Committee, an entity funded by CEFC China Energy Company Ltd.

This prior post outlined Ho’s arguments on appeal and the FCPA specific issues were presented as follows:  (1) “Whether the government, which repeatedly argued that Ho paid bribes on behalf of a Chinese company, presented legally sufficient evidence that he acted on behalf of a “domestic concern,” as required for a conviction under 15 U.S.C. § 78dd-2;” and (2) “Whether a defendant may be prosecuted for violating § 78dd-3 where (a) the grand jury determined that he was a “domestic concern,” but § 78dd-3 expressly does not apply to domestic concerns, and (b) the defendant was also indicted for violating § 78dd-2, but §§ 78dd-2 and 78dd-3 are mutually exclusive.”

In this recent decision, the Second Circuit rejected each of Ho’s challenges and affirmed his convictions.

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In A Setback For The DOJ, Judge Grants Hoskin’s Motion For Acquittal Of All FCPA Charges

Judicial Decision

This November 2019 post concerning the jury verdict in the long-running Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action against Lawrence Hoskins (the FCPA conduct Hoskins was found guilty of allegedly occurred between 2002 and 2004 and the trial took place in 2019 nearly 15 years later) noted that the jury verdict was not the final chapter in the enforcement action, just merely a development.

Indeed.

Earlier today in a setback for the Department of Justice and its FCPA theory of prosecution, Judge Janet Bond Arterton (D. Conn) granted Hoskin’s motion for acquittal on the seven FCPA charges he was convicted of by the jury (See here for the decision. The judge denied Hoskin’s motion for acquittal on the five money laundering charges he was convicted of by the jury).

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