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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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Friday Roundup

Roundup

Not true, DOJ appeal, scrutiny alert, and monitor extended. It’s all here in the Friday roundup.

Not True

In this recent Trace International sponsored podcast about the 2014 Esquenazi decision, Bill Steinmen (Senior Editor at the FCPA Blog) asserts that the FCPA’s “legislative history doesn’t really shed any light” on the meaning of “instrumentality” in the FCPA.

Not true.

There is much information in the FCPA’s legislative history relevant to the issue of whether Congress intended the phrase “instrumentality” in the “foreign official” definition to cover state-owned or state-controlled enterprises (“SOEs”).

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The “Foreign Officials” Of 2019

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A “foreign official.”

Without one, there can be no FCPA anti-bribery violation (civil or criminal).  Who were the alleged “foreign officials” of 2019?

This post highlights the alleged “foreign officials” from 2019 corporate DOJ and SEC FCPA enforcement actions.

There were 14 core FCPA enforcement actions in 2019. Of the 14 actions, 8 (57%) involved, in whole or in part, employees of alleged state-owned or state-controlled entities (“SOEs).

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Petroecuador Faces Uphill Climb In Seeking “Victim” Status

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In recent years, several entities employing alleged “foreign officials” who receive bribe payments from individuals prosecuted for Foreign Corrupt Practices Act offenses have sought “victim” status under the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act.

(See here for more on the unsuccessful attempt by Instituto Constarricense de Electricidad of Costa Rica in connection with the Alcatel-Lucent FCPA enforcement action; see here for more on the unsuccessful attempt by a subsidiary of Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. in connection with individual FCPA enforcement actions involving the entity).

In the latest attempt, Petroecuador is seeking “victim” status in connection with the FCPA enforcement action against Frank Chatburn (see here for more on the underlying enforcement action).

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DOJ Announces Guilty Pleas By Former Unaoil Executives

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Yesterday, the DOJ announced that Cyrus Ahsani and Saman Ahsani (the former CEO and Chief Operations Officer of Monaco-based Unaoil) pleaded guilty in March 2019 to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA for their roles in a scheme to corruptly facilitate millions of dollars in bribe payments to officials in multiple countries. The DOJ also announced that Steven Hunter (a former business development manager at Unaoil) pleaded guilty in August 2018 to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA.

Prior Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement actions against Rolls-Royce and SBM Offshore (see here and here) involved, in whole or in part, Unaoil and the Ahsani information refers to approximately 25 other companies including approximately ten U.S. based issuers. Thus, it is likely that additional FCPA enforcement actions involving, in whole or in part, Unaoil will be forthcoming.

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