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Fresenius Medical Care Pays Approximately $232 Million To Resolve Its Long-Standing FCPA Scrutiny


German healthcare firm Fresenius Medical Care AG (a company with American Depositary Receipt shares traded on the NYSE) has been under FCPA scrutiny since 2012 (no that is not a typo).

Today the DOJ and SEC announced (here and here) an approximate $232 million enforcement action ($84.7 million to the DOJ and $147 million to the SEC) against the company for alleged bribery schemes involving physicians and other healthcare personnel in Angola, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Spain, Turkey, Gabon, Benin, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Niger, Cameroon China, Serbia, Bosnia, and Mexico.

While not specified in any of the resolution documents, the DOJ’s non-prosecution agreement and SEC’s administrative order make generic reference to the Angola and Saudi Arabia conduct involving ‘agents and employees utiliz[ing] the means and instrumentalities of U.S. interstate commerce, including the use of internet-based email accounts hosted by numerous service providers located in the United States.”

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The FCPA’s First Compliance Monitor

[This post is part of a periodic series regarding “old” FCPA enforcement actions]

A previous post (here) detailed the DOJ’ first criminal Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action against Kenny International in 1979. However, that action was not the first FCPA enforcement action.  

In April 1978, the SEC filed a civil injunctive action against Page Airways, Inc. (“Page”) (a New York based company engaged in the sale and service of aircraft and traded on the over-the-counter market) and six officers and/or directors of the company:  James Wilmot (Chairman); Gerald Wilmot (President); Douglas Juston (Executive Vice President); Ross Chapin (Vice President); James Lawler (Vice President) and Richard Olney (Vice President).  The SEC’s complaint alleged that Page and the individual defendants “engaged in a scheme to sell Gulfstream II aircraft and other aircraft, products and services by, directly and indirectly, making payments to foreign government officials and employees and other corrupt, illegal, improper or unaccountable payments.”

The SEC complaint specifically references payments to: (i) “Albert Bongo, President of the Republic of Gabon;” (ii) “Gaya House Sendirian Berhad” and entity controlled by “Datuk Harris bin Mohammad Salleh” who, during the relevant time period, was “State Minister of Industrial Development” for the “State Government of Sabah, Malaysia;” (iii) “the Washington D.C. bank account of Societe Ivoirienne de Development et de Financement” in which “Timothee Ahoua, the Ambassador to the United States of the Republic of the Ivory Coast” was secretary and signatory on the bank account; (iv) “foreign entities as conduits for the payment of funds to third parties in order to disguise the true recipients and amounts” in connection with sales of aircraft to Saudi International Airlines and Morocco; (v) the “Chief of State” of Uganda (who received a Cadillac Eldorado convertible).  Based on the above payments, as well as allegations that the company and the individuals misrecorded and otherwise attemtped to disguise the payments, the SEC charged Page and the individuals defendants with FCPA books and records and internal control violations as well as violations of Sections 10(b) (antifraud) and 13(a) (reporting) of the Securities Exchange Act and Rules thereunder.

The SEC news digest indicates that a permanent injunction was entered enjoining the defendants from future securities law violations and that “in connection with the settlement, Page has undertaken to internally investigate matters alleged in the Commission’s complaint and retain a Review Person to evaluate the methods and procedures followed in this investigation.”  For those of you scoring at home, the Page enforcement action would seem to be the first use of an FCPA compliance monitor.  The SEC news digest also contains this interesting statement.  “In reaching settlement of this action, the Commission and Page considered concerns raised by another agency of the United States Government regarding matters of national interest.”

Original source documents from the Page FCPA enforcement can be found here.


Failure to Move Rigs Costs GlobalStantaFe

When an FCPA enforcement action involving 13 separate entities, comprising both DOJ and SEC components, is announced on the same day, there is a natural tendency to look at the forest, without spending much time on the trees.

Today’s post, and those that will follow in the near future, will focus on the separate enforcement actions (see here) announced by the DOJ/SEC on November 4th, in what I’ll call “CustomsGate.”

First up, GlobalSantaFe Corp. (“GSF”), the only enforcement action without a DOJ component.

GSF provided offshore oil and gas drilling services for oil and gas exploration companies. (GSF is a former issuer that completed a merger with a subsidiary of Transocean Inc. and became known as Transocean Worldwide, Inc. which is a subsidary of Transocean Ltd., an issuer).

In order to import equipment necessary to do such work in Nigeria, GSF needed to obtain a temporary importation permit (“TIP”) from the Nigerian government through the Nigerian Customs Service (“NCS”). Obtaining a TIP required mounds of paperwork. TIPS were initially issued for one year and were allowed to be extended twice for a period of six months each. Rarely, and only in the discretion of NCS officials, could a third six-month extension be granted.

Prior to or after a TIP expired, GSF was required to move its rigs out of Nigerian waters and to begin again the paper heavy TIP application process. Failure to export a rig after the expiration of a TIP, and all permissible extensions, would render a rig subject to potential forfeiture or seizure.

Moving a rig is no small task, it requires tug boats and money.

So begins the SEC’s complaint (here) against GSF.

According to the SEC, “instead of moving its oil drilling rigs out of Nigerian waters when GSF’s permit to temporarily import the rigs into Nigeria had expired, GSF, through its customs brokers, made payments to NCS officials in order to obtain documentation reflecting that the rigs had moved out of Nigerian waters, when in fact, the rigs had not moved at all.”

According to the SEC, there were four such instances.

The Adriatic VIII should have left Nigerian waters on or before October 15, 2004. However, in September 2004, the SEC alleges that “GSF, through its customs broker, took steps to obtain false documentation from NCS reflecting that the Adriatic VIII left Nigeria on September 29, 2004.” According to the SEC, “GSF paid its customs broker $87,500 (wired through a bank account in the name of GSF located in the U.S.) to obtain the new TIP, including a payment of $3,500 identified on the customs broker’s invoice as ‘additional charges for export.” According to the SEC, GSF managers in Nigeria “knew that the Adriatic VIII had never actually left Nigerian waters and knew, or knew that there was a high probability, that the explanation on the invoice as ‘additional charges for export’ was for purposes of disguising a bribe.” According to the SEC, a fews years later, GSF, through its customs-broker, again obtained false documentation from NCS reflecting that the Adriatic VIII had left Nigerian waters when, in fact, it had not.”

The Adriatic I should have left Nigerian waters on or before January 31, 2004. However, before this date, the SEC alleges that “GSF, through its customs broker, obtained documentation from NCS, reflecting that the Adriatic I left Nigeria on January 31, 2004 when, in fact, it had not.”

The Baltic I should have left Nigerian waters on or before June 3, 2004. However, before this date, the SEC alleges that “GSF, through its customs broker, took steps to obtain documentation from NCS, reflecting that the Baltic I left Nigeria on June 25, 2004. According to the SEC, the GSF managers “authorized and submitted for payment invoices containing charges described as ‘additional charges for export’ when the same GSF managers knew that the GSF rig had not been exported from Nigeria.” Thus, the SEC alleges, the “GSF managers either knew that the ‘additional charges for export’ were bribes, or knew that there was a high probability that they were bribes.

By engaging in the above referenced conduct, the SEC alleged that GSF: (1) avoided costs of approximately $1.5 million from not physicially moving the rigs; and (2) gained revenues of approximately $619,000 from not interrupting operations to move the rigs.”

The SEC charged GSF, on the above facts, with violating the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions.

Because none of the above-described payments were “accurately reflected in GSF’s books and records,” the SEC also charged GSF with violating the FCPA’s books and records and internal control provisions in connection with the above payments.

There is more to the SEC’s complaint.

It is common for an enforcement agency (whether DOJ or SEC) to ask the “where else question.” In other words, if the company was making the above-described payments in country x, where else was the company also making similar payments?

This frequent question causes the company to do a worldwide review of its operations and report back the results to the enforcement agency.

This is why an SEC complaint or DOJ resolution vehicle often contains a laundry list of related allegations towards the end of the resolution vehicle.

Case in point, the SEC’s complaint against GSF.

The SEC alleges that “GSF, through its customs brokers, made a number of additional payments to government officials in Nigeria totaling approximately $82,000.” The complaint gives sparse detail as to these alleged “other suspicious payments.”

Further, the SEC alleges that “GSF, through its customs brokers, also made a number of other payments […] totaling approximately $300,000 to government officials in Gabon, Angola, and Equatorial Guinea.”

These “other suspicious payments” in Nigeria and the Gabon, Angola, and Equatorial Guinea payments were not accurately reflected in GSF’s books and records and GSF failed to devise and maintain an effective system of internal controls to prevent or detect them, thus giving rise to FCPA books and records and internal charges. (These other payments were not included in the FCPA anti-bribery charges).

Based on the entire above-described conduct, and without admitting or denying the SEC’s allegations, GSF agreed to pay $5.85 million (approximately 3.75 million in disgorgement and a 2.1 million penalty).

Africa Sting Updates

It’s been a while since the last post on the Africa Sting cases.

Below is a summary of recent activity.

Last week, the DOJ filed a routine discovery notice (see here) that perhaps hints at a much broader case.

In relevant part, the DOJ stated:

“The government has produced to each defendant and his or her co-defendant documents regarding the defendant’s participation in the Country A deal charged in the indictments and historic deals, including emails, invoices and quotes. Documents related to other co-conspirators’ participation in the Country A deal and historic deals have been made available to the defendants upon request.” (emphasis added).

Time will tell what is meant by “historic deals.”

However this case is already wider than the case charged in January (see here). In March, the DOJ filed a superseding indictment (see here) against Daniel Alvirez, the President of ALS Technologies, Inc. The superseding indictment contains charges against Alvirez not found in the original indictment, specifically charges related to the Republic of Georgia. Alvirez is expected to plead guilty to charges of conspiracy to violate the FCPA as set forth in the superseding indictment and cooperate in the government’s investigation.

For more on the DOJ’s discovery filing (see here) from Christopher Matthews at Main Justice.


When the Africa Sting case was first announced, I raised the issue (see here) of whether the defendants could even be found guilty of violating the FCPA’s antibribery provisions given that the “foreign official” was not real.

At the time, it was yet known whether the “foreign official” was purely fictitious or an actual, yet non-participating person.

I suspected the later and Main Justice (see here) recently reported that the FBI agents involved in the sting operation were posing as representatives of Ali Ben Bongo – the current president of Gabon and the Minister of Defense of that country from 1999 to 2009.

Because the FCPA’s relevant provisions include terms such as influence and induce, it remains an open question whether one can seek to induce or influence an actual, yet non-participating “foreign official.”


Finally, during a status hearing yesterday, Judge Leon indicated (see here) that it was highly unlikely that the cases would go to trial in 2010.

Also at the status conference, defense lawyers continued to argue that the DOJ has not produced sufficient information concerning Richard Bistrong – a key participant in the government undercover sting operation – yet a person who was also recently criminally charged in connection with a separate bribery scheme (see here for the prior post).

Judge Leon reportedly said that the FBI’s relationship with Bistrong is “likely relevant to the case” and that DOJ is going to have produce documents and information concerning this issue.

The next status hearing is April 21st.

Historically Massive Sting Operation

Back in November, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, in a speech (see here) before an FCPA audience said that “[a]lthough many of these cases come to us through voluntary disclosures, which we certainly encourage and will appropriately reward, I want to be clear: the majority of our cases do not come from voluntary disclosures. They are the result of pro-active investigations ….”

Today, the DOJ announced (here) the indictment of 22 (no that is not a typo) “executives and employees of companies in the military and law enforcement products industry” for engaging in a scheme to bribe foreign officials to obtain and retain business.

Per the DOJ release, the 16 unsealed indictments “represent the largest single investigation and prosecution against individuals in the history of DOJ’s enforcement of the FCPA.”

Just how pro-active was this investigation?

According to the release, the “indictments allege that the defendants engaged in a scheme to pay bribes to the minister of defense for a country in Africa.”

However, there was a catch.

There was “no actual involvement from any minister of defense.”

Rather, the defendants “allegedly agreed to pay a 20 percent ‘commission’ to a sales agent who the defendants believed represented the minister of defense for a country in Africa in order to win a portion of a $15 million deal to outfit the country’s presidential guard.”

Just who was the sales agent?

An undercover FBI agent, according to the release.

The names of the indicted individuals as well as the indictments can be found here. Each of the indictments allege substantive FCPA violations, conspiracy to violate the FCPA, and conspiracy to engage in money laundering.

All but one of the individuals was arrested yesterday in Las Vegas. The other was recently arrested in Miami.

In the same November 2009 speech, Breuer noted that the FBI – FCPA specific squad was “growing in size and in expertise” and the release notes that the “investigation is the first large-scale use of undercover law enforcement techniques to uncover FCPA violations…”

Point taken, as the DOJ release notes that “approximately 150 FBI agents executed 14 search warrants” in locations across the country in its investigation.

The DOJ also release suggests that this massive alleged bribery scheme is also being investigated on both sides of the Atlantic as the “United Kingdom’s City of London Police executed seven search warrants in connection with their own investigations into companies involved in the foreign bribery conduct that formed the basis for the indictments.”

Stay tuned for more specifics in this massive case – which I will refer to as “Africa Sting.”

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