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Friday Roundup

Distributor due diligence, a double dose of say what, news from the World Bank, and an FCPA-related sentence reduced.  It’s all here in the Friday roundup.

Distributor Due Diligence

David Simon and Alex Kramer (Foley & Lardner – here and here) recently authored “Here’s How U.S. Companies Can Practically Manage FCPA Risks That Come With Global Distribution Networks” in Bloomberg BNA, Prevention of Corporate Liability, Current Report.

The authors note as follows.  “While in some areas of the law selling a product to a distributor may insulate a company from liability, the same cannot be said for the FCPA. When a distributor purchases a product, title technically shifts, but if the distributor is seen as acting as a representative of the company whose goods it sells in foreign countries, and that distributor engages in bribery of foreign officials, FCPA liability may very well attach to the company. Consequently, companies need to be careful when working with distributors to ensure they do not engage in corrupt conduct that may wind up costing a company millions in fines and penalties and investigation and defense costs.”

The article next states as follows.  “Many companies employ vast distributor networks, sometimes including hundreds, if not thousands, of distributors around the world. Many distributors are more like customers than agents; they merely purchase a product and resell it to others, often in conjunction with other products purchased from other manufacturers. Is it really practical and necessary to conduct full FCPA due diligence on every one of those distributors? Do the U.S. companies in these situations even have the leverage to insist on FCPA representations and warranties in the written agreements, to demand audit rights, and to require certifications by and training of these distributors? The question thus arises whether U.S. companies are faced with a difficult choice either to accept substantial FCPA risk or to devote disproportionate resources to running an FCPA compliance program that fully vets all distributors. We think the answer to this question is ‘‘no’’ and that there is a practical way to minimize the FCPA risk associated with a global distributor network without devoting an unreasonable and disproportionate amount of resources to compliance.”

The practical way?

The authors suggest as follows.  “We recommend that companies following a risk-based approach take this risk analysis a step further and focus on the nature of their relationships with their distributors. The goal should be to determine which distributors are the most likely to qualify as agents, for whose acts the company can be held responsible. Think about this as a continuum of risk. On the low-risk end are distributors that are nothing more than resellers with little actual affiliation with the supplier company. On the high-risk end are distributors who are very closely tied to the supplier company, who effectively represent the company in the market and end up looking more like a quasisubsidiary than a customer. […]  Once a company segregates the high-risk distributors that likely qualify as agents and potentially subject the company to FCPA liability from those that are mere resellers and pose little FCPA risk, FCPA compliance procedures can be tailored appropriately. For those distributors that qualify as ‘‘agents’’ and also pose FCPA risk, full FCPA due diligence, certifications, training, and contract language are imperative. For those that do not, more limited compliance measures that reflect the risk adjusted potential liability are perfectly appropriate.”

Say What?  (1)

A recent op-ed in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune (here) was titled “Good Companies Don’t Bribe. Period.”

Say what?

To be sure, certain Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement actions are based on allegations that executive management or the board was involved in or condoned the improper conduct at issue.  For this type of FCPA enforcement action, the title of the article is indeed spot-on.   However, this type of FCPA enforcement action is not typical.  As noted in this prior post, there are several companies that I call the “World’s Most Ethical FCPA Violators.”  These are companies who have earned designation as one of the “World’s Most Ethical Companies” by Ethisphere yet still, during the same general time period, have resolved an FCPA enforcement action or are otherwise the subject of FCPA scrutiny.  Companies on this list include:  General Electric, Statoil, Deere & Company, Hewlett-Packard, Rockwell Automation, AstraZeneca, Novo Nordisk, and Sempra Energy.  For more, see this article from Corporate Crime Reporter titled “World’s Most Ethical Companies and the FCPA.”  See also this prior post discussing W.W. Grainger’s recent FCPA disclosure and noting that the company is consistently ranked as one of the “world’s most admired companies” by Forbes.

Say What? (2)

This recent post on the FCPA Blog states as follows.  “There’s a reason why you don’t see many of the biggest U.S.-based government contractors on the FCPA top ten list […]. Not that they didn’t struggle with compliance during the early years of enforcement, but they moved quickly to update their compliance and ethics programs once they saw the tide of FCPA enforcement turning. Then they moved on.”

Say what?

Here is the list of the largest contractors in the government market based on an analysis of government procurement data during fiscal 2010.  Seven of the companies in the top twenty-one have, in the past few years, resolved FCPA (or related) enforcement actions or are otherwise the subject of FCPA scrutiny:  Raytheon, H-P, KBR, Dyncorp, ITT Corp., IBM, and BAE.

The “U.S.-based” and “FCPA top ten list” qualifiers were apparently chosen carefully in the FCPA Blog post.

World Bank News

Earlier this week, the World Bank announced (here) publication “for the first time a set of decisions issued by the World Bank Group’s Sanctions boards in cases of alleged fraud and corruption.”  World Bank Managing Director Sri Mulyani Indrawati stated as follows.  “The World Bank Group takes a hard line against corruption, and we believe that greater transparency must be part of that effort. By publishing Sanctions Board decisions, we are making all parties involved in the sanctions process more accountable. This move should deepen the deterrent effect of debarments and enhance the educational value of the Sanctions Board’s findings.”

The Sanctions Board decisions can be found here.

Antoine’s FCPA-Related Sentence Reduced

This recent post provided a Haiti Teleco roundup.  As noted in the prior post, the Haiti Teleco case (minus the manufactured and now former Africa Sting case) is the largest in FCPA history in terms of defendants charged – 13.  Among the group of defendants were three “foreign officials” charged with non-FCPA offenses including Robert Antoine, the former director of international affairs at Haiti Teleco who pleaded guilty in March 2010 to conspiracy to commit money laundering.  In June 2010, he was sentenced to 48 months in prison.

As Samuel Rubenfeld (Wall Street Journal Corruption Currents) noted in this recent post, Antoine, “who testified twice at trial on behalf of prosecutors in foreign bribery cases had [his] four-year prison sentence reduced to 18 months, and he will soon be out of prison.”

*****

A good weekend to all.

Friday Roundup

Efforts to influence the upcoming guidance, a stiff FCPA-related sentence, Representatives Cummings and Waxman think they are on to something, and thumbs up – it’s all here in the Friday roundup.

Guidance

Earlier this week, Global Financial Integrity, Open Society Foundations, and others released this letter to the DOJ and SEC concerning upcoming FCPA guidance.  The letter addresses “foreign official,” a compliance defense, voluntary disclosure, declination decisions, parent-subsidiary liability, successor liability, de minimis gifts and hospitality, and mens rea and corporate criminal liability.

As to “foreign official” the letter states “that ownership of companies around the world, including in the U.S., is impossible to determine independently” and that “the staff of a U.S. company is not likely to be able to independently verify the direct and indirect ownership of foreign companies.”  The letter also states, as to control of an instrumentality by a foreign government, that control can be conferred, among other ways, by “unspoken custom.”

Should one laugh or cry when reading such statements concerning a key element of the most important U.S. law governing international business transactions?  Perhaps the groups don’t care.  After all, as noted here, some of the groups have previously stated as follows regarding “foreign official” – “The U.S. Chamber is promoting the creation of a definition of “foreign official” so that companies have greater legal certainty. Greater certainty of what? Greater certainty of who they are permitted to bribe and who they are not permitted to bribe.  […]  In short, defining the term “foreign official” would underscore the idea that it is OK to bribe certain people and not others, a principle the United States surely does not want to promulgate.”

Duperval Sentenced

Earlier this week, the DOJ announced (here) that “Jean Rene Duperval, a former director of international relations for Telecommunications D’Haiti S.A.M. (Haiti Teleco), a Haitian state-owned telecommunications company, was sentenced [by U.S. District Court Judge Jose Martinez in the Southern District of Florida] to nine years in prison for his role in a scheme to launder bribes paid to him by two Miami-based telecommunications companies.”  The stiff sentence continues the trend of the Southern District of Florida (and Judge Martinez in particular) handing out the toughest FCPA or FCPA-related sentences in the country.

As noted in the release,  Duperval was convicted in March 2012 of two counts of conspiracy to commit money laundering and 19 counts of money laundering. According to the release, “Judge Martinez also ordered Duperval to forfeit $497,331.”  Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer stated as follows.  “Mr. Duperval took bribes in exchange for giving companies an unfair and illegal advantage in the marketplace, and then tried to hide these illicit transactions behind the cloak of shell corporations and fake invoices.  Just as we prosecute corrupt businesspeople under the FCPA, we will hold accountable corrupt foreign officials when they seek to launder the proceeds of that bribery through the U.S. financial system.  Today’s nine-year prison sentence sends a strong message to foreign officials and others who would facilitate foreign corruption that they will face serious consequences.”

As noted in this prior post, the Haiti Teleco case (minus the manufactured and now former Africa Sting case) is the largest in FCPA history in terms of defendants charged – 13.  The prior post provides a summary of all the enforcement actions.

The Latest FCPA Reform Volley

If your third cousin received a speeding ticket years ago does this prohibit you from forever seeking reform of speed limit laws?  Probably not the best analogy, but Representatives Elijah Cummings and Henry Waxman seem to think so.  As noted in this previous post, Cummings (Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform) and Waxman (Ranking Member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce) sent letters to the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Retail Industry Leaders Association and the President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce stating as follows.  “We are concerned about the role that Wal-Mart officials may have played in the Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform (“ILR”).  It would appear to be a conflict of interest for Wal-Mart officials to advise on ways to weaken the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act at a time when the leadership of the company was apparently aware of corporate conduct that may have violated the law.”

Earlier this week, Representatives Cummings and Waxman again put pen to paper and sent this letter to the President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce stating as follows.  “A new analysis by our staff reveals that Wal-Mart is not the only company represented on the ILR’s board that has faced allegations that it violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Our review of ILR’s tax filings from 2007 to 20 10, member companies’ filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and other documents reveals that 14 out of 55 ILR board members-almost one in four- were affiliated with companies that were reportedly under investigation for violations or had settled allegations that they violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.”  See here for more.

Closing with the analogy, perhaps Representatives Cummings and Waxman should instead inquire about how the speeding laws are being enforced – or at the very least – read this prior post titled “The Sun Rose, A Dog Barked, And A Company Disclosed FCPA Scrutiny.”

Thumbs Up

To Howard Sklar for this recent post on his Open Air Blog.  I agree with the general thrust of Howard’s argument.  So did Congress when it passed the FCPA.  For that reason, and here is where I disagree with Howard, the issues he identifies are legal issues, not merely policy issues.

*****

A good weekend to all.

Haiti Teleco Roundup

Last week, the DOJ announced (here) that Jean Rene Duperval (a former director of international relations for Haiti Teleco) was “convicted by a federal jury on all counts for his role in a scheme to launder bribes paid to him by two Miami-based telecommunications companies.”

Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer stated as follows.  “Mr. Duperval was convicted by a Miami jury of laundering $500,000 paid to him as part of an elaborate bribery scheme.  As the director of international relations for Haiti’s state-owned telecommunications company, Duperval doled out business in exchange for bribes and then used South Florida shell companies to conceal his crimes.  This Justice Department is committed to stamping out corruption wherever we find it.”  Duperval is scheduled to be sentenced on May 21st.

The Haiti Teleco case (minus the manufactured and now former Africa Sting case) is the largest in FCPA history in terms of defendants charged – 13.  Below is a brief summary of the actions.

Individuals Charged With FCPA and/or Related Offenses

Antonio Perez.  In April 2009, Perez pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the FCPA.  As noted in this prior post, in January 2010, he was sentenced to 24 months in prison.

Juan Diaz.  In May 2009, Diaz pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the FCPA.  As noted in this prior post, in July 2010, he was sentenced to 57 months in prison.

Jean Fourcand.  As noted in this DOJ release, in February 2010, Fourcand pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering for receiving and transmitting bribe monies in the Haiti Teleco scheme.  In May 2010, Fourcard was sentenced to 6 months in prison.

Joel Esquenazi and Carlos Rodriguez.  As noted in this prior post, in August 2011, Esquenazi and Rodriguez were convicted by a jury for conspiracy to violate the FCPA, FCPA violations, and other offenses.  As noted in this prior post, in October 2011, Esquenazi was sentenced to 180 months in prison and Rodriguez was sentenced to 84 months in prison.  As noted below, Esquenazi and Rodriguez are appealing their convictions to the 11th Circuit.

Marguerite Grandison.  As noted in this DOJ release, in December 2009, Grandison was charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and commit wire fraud, seven counts of FCPA violations, one count conspiracy to commit money laundering and 12 counts of money laundering.  According to a recent docket search, in February 2012, Grandison entered a not guilty plea and shortly thereafter the docket states as follows – “docket restricted/sealed until further notice.”

Washington Vasconez Cruz, Amadeus Richers and Cecilia Zurita.  These individuals (associated with Cinergy Telecommunications) are fugitives according to the DOJ.

“Foreign Officials” Charged With Non-FCPA Offenses

Duperval – see above.

Patrick Joseph. As noted in this prior post, the former director of international relations at Haiti Teleco pleaded guilty in February 2012 to conspiracy to commit money laundering. In July 2012, he was sentenced to 366 days in prison.

Robert Antoine.  As noted in this prior post, the former director of international affairs at Haiti Teleco pleaded guilty in March 2010 to conspiracy to commit money laundering.  In June 2010, he was sentenced to 48 months in prison.

Entity Charged

Cinergy Telecommunications.  As noted in this prior post, in February the DOJ moved to dismiss charges against Cinergy because it is a non-operational entity with no assets of any real value.

*****

Carlos Rodriguez and Joel Esquenazi are appealing their convictions to the 11th Circuit.  See here for the prior post regarding Rodriguez and his appellate counsel.  Recently, T. Markus Funk and Michael Sink (here and here of Perkins Coie) began representing Esquenazi in connection the appeal.  Funk, a former federal prosecutor in Chicago and US State Department lawyer co-chairs the ABA’s Global Anti-Corruption Task Force (here).

*****

This prior post discussed Haiti Teleco’s other preferred providers – namely IDT Corp. and Fusion Telecommunications – and linked to a recent Wall Street Journal article titled the “Looting of Haiti Teleco.”  The WSJ article was shortly countered with this post by Lucy Komisar.

Haiti Teleco’s Other Preferred Providers

In terms of defendants (13), it is the largest FCPA enforcement action in history and its involves Haiti Teleco.  As indicated in a post last week (see here), another individual – and a high-profile individual at that (former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide), has been mentioned in connection with the enforcement action.

The enforcement action(s) principally allege payments by various defendants to obtain preferred telecommunication rates from Haiti Teleco.  See here for the indictment of Joel Esquenazi, Carlos Rodriguez and others.  See here for the information as to Juan Diaz.  See here for the information as to Antonio Perez.  See here for the superseding indictment of various Cinergy Telecommunications employees and others.

Even though the Haiti Teleco enforcement action(s) are already broad in scope, other companies also obtained preferred telecommunication rates from Haiti Teleco –  and allegations or suspicions have been raised as to how.  However, at present, there have not been any enforcement actions as to the below companies.

Prior SEC filings by IDT Corporation (here), starting in 2008, have stated as follows.  “On April 1, 2004, D. Michael Jewett, a former employee, […] sent a copy of the complaint he had filed against the Company to the United States Attorney’s Office. In the complaint, Jewett had alleged, among other things, that improper payments were made to foreign officials in connection with an IDT Telecom contract. As a result, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”), the SEC and the United States Attorney in Newark, New Jersey conducted an investigation of this matter. The Company and the Audit Committee of the Company’s Board of Directors initiated independent investigations, by outside counsel, regarding certain of the matters raised in the Jewett complaint and in these investigations. Neither the Company’s nor the Audit Committee’s investigations have found any evidence that the Company made any such improper payments to foreign officials.”

The substance of IDT’s disclosure on this issue has not changed since 2008.  In 2010, IDT entered into a confidential settlement agreement with Jewett. In its most recent quarterly filing, IDT stated as follows as to the above issue.  “The Company continues to cooperate with these investigations, which the SEC and DOJ have confirmed are still ongoing.”  For more on the IDT – Haiti Teleco contract, see this 2009 article from Forbes.

This March 2010 editorial in the Wall Street Journal “Democrats and Haiti Telecom” raises questions about a 1999 contract between Fusion Telecommunications (here) and Haiti Teleco (as well as Fusion board member, Joseph P. Kennedy II – the article also states that “numerous [Bill] Clinton cronies were also on Fusion’s board”).   The article asserts that Fusion had access to the Teleco network at a 75% discount from the official rate on file at the Federal Communications Commission.  For additional Wall Street Journal coverage of Fusion’s Haiti Teleco contract – see here and here – from today’s Wall Street Journal titled “The Looting of Haiti Teleco.”

Former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide Implicated In Haiti Teleco Cases

Besides the manufactured (and now former) Africa Sting cases, the Haiti Teleco related enforcement actions are the largest in FCPA history in terms of individual defendants – 13.   Another individual has been mentioned in connection with the case, and a high-profile individual at that.

Jean-Bertrand Aristide served two stints as Haiti’s President, most recently between 2001-2004.  According to this article over the weekend in the Miami Herald, Aristide is believed to be “Official B” in the second superseding indictment (here) filed in January 2012 against various defendants.  The indictment states that “from in or around 2011 to in or around 2004, Official B was an official in the executive branch of the Haitian Government.”  According to the article, Aristide allegedly pocketed “millions of dollars in bribes from Miami businesses that brokered long-distance phone deals” with Haiti Teleco.

Aristide’s lawyer, Ira Kurzban (here), is quoted in the article as follows.  “I view this as part of the same smear campaign that the United States has orchestrated against Aristide since he was first elected in 1990.”

 

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