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Friday Roundup

Roundup

Back to the Bolivian tear gas contract, more misinformation from the FCPA Blog, and surprising.

It’s all here in the Friday roundup.

Back to the Bolivian Tear Gas Contract

This May 2021 post highlighted a DOJ enforcement action against Bryan Berkman, Luis Berkman, Philip Lichtenfeld and Sergio Mendez for their roles in a Bolivian bribery scheme to secure a tear gas contract. Bryan Berkman, a U.S. citizen, was described as owning a Florida company (“Intermediary Company”) that sold tactical equipment including to the Bolivian Ministry of Defense. Sergio Mendez, a citizen of Bolivia, served as an official in the Bolivian Ministry of Government. Luis Berkman, also a U.S. citizen and Bryan’s father, was 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). Lichtenfeld, a U.S. citizen, is described as an associate of the Berkmans and Mendez.

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Seventh Circuit: “The United Nations Convention Against Corruption Is Not Binding Federal Law”

Judicial Decision

It has not been a good month for Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social (IMSS – the Mexican Social Security Institute) in U.S. appellate courts.

This recent post discussed a Sixth Circuit decision affirming the dismissal of a civil lawsuit on forum non conveniens grounds filed by IMSS against Stryker in the aftermath of the company’s FCPA enforcement action which involved, among other conduct, alleged bribery of IMSS officials.

As highlighted in this prior post, in 2017 Biomet became an FCPA repeat offender as the DOJ and SEC brought a parallel FCPA enforcement action in which the company agreed to an overall settlement amount of $30.4 million. A portion of the enforcement action involved conduct in Mexico and in the words of the DOJ: “Biomet’s subsidiaries used a customs broker whose five subagents bribed Mexican customs officials to allow Biomet to export mislabeled products to Mexico.” In the words of the SEC: “Biomet subsidiary 3i Mexico engaged Mexican Customs Broker and certain subagents to pay bribes to Mexican customs officials for the purpose of circumventing Mexican customs laws regarding importing unregistered and improperly labeled products into Mexico.”

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DOJ Announces Money Laundering Charges Against Odebrecht Agents In Connection With Bribery Scheme Involving Their Close Relative Panamanian Official

Linares

With increasing frequency the Department of Justice is using money laundering statutes to criminally charge participants in alleged bribery scheme. (See here for the recent post documenting the trend).

In the latest example, yesterday the DOJ announced the unsealing of a June 2020 criminal complaint against agents associated with Odebrecht in connection with the company’s 2016 FCPA enforcement action (see here for the prior post).

According to the complaint, Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares (a citizen of Panama and Italy) and his brother Ricardo Alberto Martinelli Linares (also a citizen of Panama and Italy), both of whom travelled several times to the U.S. during the relevant time period, “participated in the Odebrecht bribery scheme by, among other things, serving as intermediaries for bribe payments and the provision of other things of value that Odebrecht offered and provided to the Panama Government Official. According to the complaint, both defendants “were close relatives” of the Panama Government Official.

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DOJ Announces Additional Venezuelan Bribery Schemes – Yet No FCPA Charges

Venez

This mid-2021 post highlighted the noticeable trend of the DOJ specifically alleging that an individual violated the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions, yet not charging the individual with FCPA anti-bribery violations, but rather money laundering violations.

Last week, the DOJ returned to this playbook as it announced the unsealing of an indictment charging three Colombian nationals and two Venezuelan nationals for their alleged roles in laundering the proceeds of contracts to provide food and medicine to Venezuela that were obtained through bribes.

As stated in the DOJ release:

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A Focus On The DOJ’s Enforcement Action Against Credit Suisse

CS

Yesterday’s post highlighted the SEC’s recent $99 million Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (and related) enforcement action against Credit Suisse in connection with financing various projects in Mozambique.

As alluded to in the prior post, the DOJ also announced an enforcement action based on the same core conduct and charged Credit Suisse and a U.K. subsidiary with conspiracy to commit money laundering. After crediting amounts paid to the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority, Credit Suisse agreed to pay $175 million to resolve the DOJ matter while also agreeing to pay $200 million to the U.K. FCA. Because the DOJ’s enforcement action against Credit Suisse was not an FCPA enforcement action, it will not be captured in FCPA statistics published on this site. (After all, if FCPA enforcement statistics are to mean anything – they should only capture actual FCPA enforcement actions).

Nevertheless, the DOJ enforcement action is summarized below.

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