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DOJ Announces FCPA And Related Charges In Relation To Griffiths Energy International’s Bribery Scheme Involving Chad

Chad

These pages have followed the bribery enforcement action against Canada based Griffiths Energy International (GEI) and related issues for quite a long time.

As highlighted in this post, in 2013 Canadian law enforcement brought an enforcement action against GEI under Canada’s Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act regarding the company’s efforts to obtain a production sharing contract with the African nation of Chad to provide GEI with the exclusive right to explore and develop oil and gas reserves and resources in southern Chad.  As noted in the prior post, in resolving the action, GEI acknowledged that it “directly agreed to provide, and indirectly provided, improper benefits to a Chadian public official in order to further the business objectives of GEI and its subsidiaries.”  The public official was Chad’s Ambassador to Canada, Mahamoud Adam Bechir, and by extension his wife Ms. Nouracham Niam.  Because Chad had no embassy located in Canada, the Ambassador resided in Washington D.C. and the previous post wondered if the DOJ would get involved.

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Motion To Dismiss Argues That The DOJ’s Case “Continues The Worrisome Trend By The DOJ To Stretch The Reach Of The United States’ Criminal Statutes Beyond Congress’ Intent In An Attempt To Police The World”

worldpolice

As highlighted in this prior post, in 2019 Daisy Rafoi-Bleuler (a citizen of Switzerland and partner in a Swiss Wealth Management firm) became the latest individual to be criminally charged with Foreign Corrupt Practices Act offenses for allegedly directing bribes to various individuals at Venezuela’s state-owned and state-controlled energy company, PDVSA.

According to the DOJ, Rafoi opened Swiss bank accounts and facilitated financial transactions for various co-conspirators to help facilitate the bribery scheme.

As highlighted in this post, in late October 2020, Rafoi-Bleuler (through her counsel Matthew Reinhard, Andrew Wise, and Margot Laporte at Miller & Chevalier) filed a motion to dismiss the criminal charges against her.

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UK Supreme Court Rules That SFO Cannot Require Foreign Companies To Produce Documents Held Overseas

Judicial Decision

[A guest post from Debevoise & Plimpton attorneys Karolos Seeger, Jane Shvets, Robin Loof, Thomas Jenkins and Andrew Lee]

On February 5th, the UK Supreme Court handed down a highly-anticipated judgment, holding that the Serious Fraud Office (“SFO”) cannot issue a notice (a “section 2 Notice”) under s2(3) of the Criminal Justice Act 1987 (“CJA”) requiring a foreign company with no UK presence to produce material. Basing its decision on international comity, the construction of the CJA and subsequent legislative developments, including the adoption of mutual legal assistance agreements, the UK Supreme Court confined the use of section 2 Notices to UK companies and (possibly) foreign companies established or carrying on business in the UK.

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Second Circuit Affirms Ho’s FCPA And Related Convictions

Ho

As described in this prior post, in late 2018 Chi Ping Patrick Ho was found guilty at trial of Foreign Corrupt Practices Ac and money laundering violations in connection with alleged bribery schemes in Chad and Uganda on behalf of China Energy Fund Committee, an entity funded by CEFC China Energy Company Ltd.

This prior post outlined Ho’s arguments on appeal and the FCPA specific issues were presented as follows:  (1) “Whether the government, which repeatedly argued that Ho paid bribes on behalf of a Chinese company, presented legally sufficient evidence that he acted on behalf of a “domestic concern,” as required for a conviction under 15 U.S.C. § 78dd-2;” and (2) “Whether a defendant may be prosecuted for violating § 78dd-3 where (a) the grand jury determined that he was a “domestic concern,” but § 78dd-3 expressly does not apply to domestic concerns, and (b) the defendant was also indicted for violating § 78dd-2, but §§ 78dd-2 and 78dd-3 are mutually exclusive.”

In this recent decision, the Second Circuit rejected each of Ho’s challenges and affirmed his convictions.

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Vitol Resolves Net $90 Million FCPA Enforcement Action For Conduct In Brazil, Ecuador And Mexico

vitol

Last week the DOJ announced that Vitol Inc., the U.S. affiliate of the Vitol group of companies, which together form one of the largest energy trading companies in the world, agreed to resolve a net $90 million FCPA enforcement action for conduct in Brazil, Ecuador and Mexico.

As noted in the DOJ release (and as will be explored in a future post) “Vitol has also agreed to disgorge more than $12.7 million to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) in a related matter and to pay the CFTC a penalty of $16 million related to trading activity not covered” by the DOJ enforcement action.

Under the heading “The Brazil Bribery Scheme” this criminal information alleges:

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