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Berko Arrested On Recently Unsealed Criminal Charges Alleging The Same Core Conduct As The SEC’s Previously Resolved Enforcement Action

Berko

As highlighted in this prior post, in early 2020, the SEC announced the filing of a civil complaint charging Asante Berko (pictured – a former Executive Director of Goldman Sachs International) with Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations and other charges for “orchestrating a bribery scheme to help a client [a Turkish energy company] win a government contract to build and operate an electrical power plant” in Ghana.

Berko publicly denied the SEC’s allegations and the SEC sought court approval to serve the summons and complaint via e-mail and through his U.S. counsel. Ultimately settlement negotiations commenced and in mid-2021 Berko agreed to resolve the matter. Without admitting or denying the SEC’s allegations, Berko agreed to pay $329,163.92 (disgorgement of $275,000 along with prejudgment interest of $54,163.92). The final judgment also permanently restrained and enjoined Berko from violating, directly or indirectly, the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions.

Those who follow the FCPA, myself included, likely thought that was the end of the matter. Perhaps Berko himself thought that.

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Goldman’s $79.5 Million Ripple

Ripple

Foreign Corrupt Practices Act settlement amounts are one obvious consequence of FCPA non-compliance and tend to generate the most headlines.

However, as has been discussed on these pages for years  including in this article “FCPA Ripples”, settlement amounts are only one consequence of the overall financial ramifications of FCPA scrutiny and enforcement.

As highlighted in this prior post, in October 2020 Goldman Sachs resolved a net $1.66 billion DOJ/SEC FCPA enforcement action in connection with its participation in 1MDB (Malaysia’s state-owned and state-controlled investment development company).

As often happens in connection with FCPA scrutiny or enforcement, lawyers representing shareholders filed civil actions including derivative actions alleging that Goldman officers and directors breached fiduciary duties in connection with the underlying conduct.

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Judge Broadly Interprets FCPA’s Internal Controls Provision – Concludes That “Circumvention” Does Not Depend On The Falsification Of A Book Or Record

JudgeBrodie

As highlighted here, Roger Ng (a former managing director at Goldman Sachs) was recently convicted by a jury of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and related offenses for paying bribes to various Malaysian and Abu Dhabi officials in connection with 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), Malaysia’s state-owned and state-controlled investment development company.

As discussed here, in September 2021 Judge Margo Brodie (E.D.N.Y) denied Ng’s pre-trial motion to dismiss. Among the arguments Ng made in the motion to dismiss was that a count in the indictment should be dismissed because the DOJ failed to that Ng conspired to circumvent a set of internal accounting controls cognizable under the FCPA. As to this issue, Judge Brodie concluded that the FCPA’s internal controls provisions can be implicated even in transactions in which an issuer does not use its own assets to pay an alleged bribe.

During the trial, at the conclusion of the government’s case, Ng moved for a judgment of acquittal of the charge and Judge Brodie denied the motion on the record on March 28, 2022. Recently, Judge Brodie issued this Memorandum and Order explaining her decision.

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Ng Found Guilty Of FCPA And Related Offenses

RogerNg

As highlighted here, in November 2018 the DOJ announced criminal Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (and related charges) against individuals associated with Goldman Sachs – including Roger Ng (a former managing director at Goldman Sachs) – for paying bribes to various Malaysian and Abu Dhabi officials in connection with 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), Malaysia’s state-owned and state-controlled investment development company. The individuals were also charged with conspiring to launder billions of dollars embezzled from 1MDB.

As highlighted here, in September 2021 U.S. District Court Judge Margo Brodie (E.D.N.Y) denied Ng’s motion to dismiss to certain charges paving the way for a rare FCPA trial.

The trial began in mid-February and today Ng was convicted of FCPA and related charges.

As reported by Law360:

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Ng Trial Begins

RogerNg

As highlighted here, in November 2018 the DOJ announced criminal Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (and related charges) against individuals associated with Goldman Sachs – including Roger Ng (a former managing director at Goldman Sachs) – for paying bribes to various Malaysian and Abu Dhabi officials in connection with 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), Malaysia’s state-owned and state-controlled investment development company. The individuals were also charged with conspiring to launder billions of dollars embezzled from 1MDB.

Unlike co-defendant Tim Leissner (the former Southeast Asia Chairman at Goldman Sach and Participating Manager Director) who pleaded guilty and is cooperating with the government, Ng is putting the DOJ to it burden of proof.

As highlighted here, in September 2021 U.S. District Court Judge Margo Brodie (E.D.N.Y) denied Ng’s motion to dismiss to certain charges paving the way for a rare FCPA trial.

The trial began earlier this week.

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