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U.K. Companies Resolve Net $17.7 Million FCPA Enforcement Action Concerning Conduct In Brazil

WoodFoster

Approximately 7-10 years ago, a U.K. corporation (#1) engaged in alleged improper conduct with alleged Brazilian officials largely through a Brazilian intermediary company with the assistance of an Italian agent. Approximately 7 years ago, a different U.K. corporation (#2) acquired U.K. corporation #1 and then approximately 4 years ago another U.K. corporation (#3) acquired U.K. corporation #2.

And then, the U.S. government brought an FCPA enforcement action against U.K. corporation #1 because, at one time, the company had shares traded on NASDAQ – even though in connection with the same core conduct the U.K. Serious Fraud Office and Brazil law enforcement also brought an enforcement action.

That pretty much sums up last Friday’s net $17.7 million FCPA enforcement action against Amec Foster Wheeler Energy, which was acquired by Amec Plc in 2014, which in turn, was acquired by John Wood Group Plc in 2017.

The enforcement action was the first corporate FCPA enforcement action of the Biden administration and closed the approximate six month gap in corporate FCPA enforcement.

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Deutsche Bank Joins The Repeat Offender Club By Resolving Second FCPA Enforcement In Just 16 Months

deutsche

In August 2019, Deutsche Bank paid $16.2 million “to settle changes that it violated the FCPA by hiring relatives of foreign government officials [in both the Asia Pacific Region and Russia] in order to improperly influence them in connection with investment banking business).” (See here and here for prior posts).

Late Friday, Deutsche Bank (a German investment bank and financial services company with shares traded on the NYSE between 2009 and 2016) joined the ever expanding list of FCPA repeat offenders as the DOJ and SEC announced (here and here) an approximate $122.6 million Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action focused on the company’s relationship with third parties in Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, Italy, and China.

The approximate 16 month gap between Deutsche Bank’s FCPA enforcement actions is the shortest among the large group of FCPA repeat offenders.

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Brazilian Company Bribes Brazilian Officials, U.S. Collects Net $155 Million In FCPA Enforcement Action

J&F

This recent post posed the question of whether “foreign” in the FCPA’s “foreign official” element means as it relates to the U.S. or as it relates to the specific company at issue. The post highlighted how in recent years the FCPA enforcement agencies have adopted the former interpretation in bringing FCPA enforcement actions against foreign companies for allegedly bribing their own “domestic” officials – but “foreign” as it relates to the U.S.

In yet another example, the DOJ and SEC announced yesterday (see here and here) that J&F Investimentos S.A. (J&F a private investment holding company based in Brazil that owns approximately 250 companies primarily involved in the meat and agriculture business) and a related entity resolved a net $155 million FCPA enforcement action for allegedly bribing Brazilian officials.

The enforcement action involved a: (i) DOJ component against J&F resolved through a plea agreement in which the company paid net $128.2 million; and (ii) an SEC component against J&F, a related entity, and two individuals in which the related entity paid approximately $26.8 million and the two individuals each paid a $550,000 civil penalty.

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A Foreign Official Head-Scratcher

scratchhead

The anti-bribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act define “foreign official” to mean in pertinent part: “any officer or employee of a foreign government or any department, agency, or instrumentality thereof … or any person acting in an official capacity for or on behalf of any such government or department, agency, or instrumentality …”.

Having reviewed the FCPA’s entire legislative history, it is clear that Congress intended “foreign” to mean non-U.S. as Congress learned of payments to: the political campaign of the President of the Republic of Korea; a Saudi Arabian general; Italian political parties; Japanese Prime Minister Tanaka; Prince Bernhard (the Inspector General of the Dutch Armed Forces and the husband of Queen Juliana of the Netherlands); Oswaldo Lopez Arellano, the President of Honduras; and Albert Bernard Bongo, the President of Gabon.

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Novartis Joins The Repeat Offender Club – This Time Paying Approximately $347 Million To Resolve An FCPA Enforcement Action

Novartis

What happens when the Greek, Swiss, and South Korean subsidiaries of a Swiss company engage in improper conduct in Greece, Vietnam and South Korea? Why of course, approximately $345 million flows into the U.S. treasury.

Yesterday, Novartis joined the long and growing list of FCPA repeat offenders as the DOJ and SEC announced (see here and here) a combined approximate $347 million enforcement action. (As highlighted in this prior post, in 2016 Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis coughed up $25 million to resolve a SEC FCPA enforcement action focused on the conduct of its indirect Chinese subsidiaries).

Yesterday’s enforcement action included a DOJ component (in which the company agreed to pay approximately $234 million) and a SEC component (in which the company agreed to pay approximately $113 million).

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