Scrutiny alerts, noisy exit, double standard, quotable and for the reading stack. It’s all here in the Friday roundup.
As predicted in this May post about the FIFA-related enforcement action, while the enforcement action was not an FCPA enforcement action it was likely to lead to scrutiny of various companies concerning books and records and internal controls issues.
Various reports (see here and here for instance) suggest that the SEC is :examining the behavior of several companies with links to FIFA or other soccer bodies caught up in a major corruption scandal to see if there were possible violations of U.S. federal bribery laws, a person with knowledge of the matter said.” According to the article:
“The civil probe, which is in its early stages and may not lead to any findings of wrongdoing or enforcement action, is being conducted by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.” […] The SEC probe centers on publicly-traded companies who have been involved in soccer contracts, such as athletic shoes and sportswear company Nike Inc, said the source, who asked not to be named because of the non-public nature of the investigation. The exact scope of the probe and the names of other companies being scrutinized could not be learned. An SEC spokeswoman declined to comment.”
“Drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline, which was fined a record 3 billion yuan ($483 million) for corruption in China last year and is examining possible staff misconduct elsewhere, faces new allegations of bribery in Romania. GSK confirmed it was looking into the latest claims of improper payments set out in a whistleblower’s email sent to its top management on Monday. A copy of the email was seen by Reuters. The company is already probing alleged bribery in Poland, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Iraq. The latest allegations say GSK paid Romanian doctors hundreds, and in one cases thousands, of euros between 2009 and 2012 for prescribing its medicines, including prostate treatments Avodart and Duodart and Parkinson’s disease drug Requip. According to the email, the doctors were notionally paid for speaking engagements, but in three out of six cases, including the most highly paid one, they did not give any speech. The other three medics gave only one speech each, despite receiving multiple payments. GSK also provided doctors with many international trips and made payments to them under the guise of participation in advisory boards, the email said. […] The sender of the Romania email said its contents would be passed on to the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which are investigating GSK for possible breaches of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.”
My article “Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Ripples” chronicles, among other things, how the FCPA is increasingly being used offensively by litigants. One such example is a “noisy exit” a term coined by FCPA Professor in 2010 to describe an employee alleging unfair employment practices in connection with some aspect of FCPA scrutiny or enforcement.
The latest example is this civil complaint recently filed by Keisha Hall (a certified public accountant, certified fraud examiner and former director of finance for the Latin America region of Teva Pharmaceutical USA, INC.’s (“Teva”).
According to the complaint, Teva allegedly fired Hall after she “began cooperating in a Securities and Exchange Commission/Department of Justice investigation into potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (“SOX”), stemming from, among other things, allegations of bribery of government officials in the region.”
As highlighted in this prior post, Teva has been under FCPA scrutiny since July 2012.
A few weeks after an official is sworn in to a high-ranking government position, the official asserts herself into a pending government investigation against a corporation and brokers a settlement (an unusual task given the official’s position).
From that point forward, the corporation significantly increases its contributions to a charitable organization set up by the official’s family and pays the official’s spouse $1.5 million to participate in a series of question and answer sessions with the corporation’s CEO.
A prudent FCPA practitioner would immediately see numerous red flags and recommend an internal investigation.
But wait, the official is not a foreign official, it’s a U.S. official and once again it is Hillary Clinton. (See here for the Wall Street Journal’s recent article “Clinton’s Complicated UBS Ties.”)
On the other side of the Presidential ticket is Donald Trump. Regardless of what you think of “The Donald” he is blunt. In this recent Wall Street Journal article, Trump explains why he previously donated to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and other political campaigns.
“As a businessman, [Trump] needed to curry favor with an influential senator from his home state. In turn, he said, [Clinton] had incentive to court him as a campaign donor. “As a businessman and a very substantial donor to very important people, when you give, they do whatever the hell you want them to do,” Mr. Trump said. “As a businessman, I need that.”
“We’ve seen several trials in which the judges have been skeptical, if not outwardly hostile, to some of the government’s more aggressive interpretations of the FCPA. While those trials may have fallen apart for other reasons, that skepticism still played, I believe, a substantial role.”
“Without the development of the law through judicial decisions, it’s very unclear what judges believe the FCPA means compared to what the DOJ think the FCPA means.”
(See here for Levy’s FCPA Professor guest post titled “Prosecutorial Common Law”).
In the same article, George Terwilliger (McGuireWoods and a former high-ranking DOJ official) states:
“It is fundamental to due process that a person of ordinary intelligence should be able to read a law and understand what is required or prohibited, as the case may be. Many people of great intelligence on both sides of an FCPA question debate just such issues.”
“That does not produce the fair warning that those subject to the law deserve to have.”
For the Reading Stack
An informative article here by Jon N. Eisenberg (K&L Gates) titled “Are Public Companies Required to Disclose Government Investigations.” While not FCPA-specific, the article is FCPA relevant and begins as follows.
“For many public companies, the first issue they have to confront after they receive a government subpoena or Civil Investigative Demand (“CID”) is whether to disclose publicly that they are under investigation. Curiously, the standards for disclosure of investigations are more muddled than one would expect. As a result, disclosure practices vary—investigations are sometimes disclosed upon receipt of a subpoena or CID, sometimes when the staff advises a company that it has tentatively decided to recommend an enforcement action, sometimes not until the end of the process, and sometimes at other intermediate stages along the way. In many cases, differences in the timing of disclosure may reflect different approaches to disclosure. We discuss below the standards that govern the disclosure decision and practical considerations. We then provide five representative examples of language that companies used when they disclosed investigations at an early stage.”