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SAP Joins The Repeat Offender Club

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In 2016 SAP (a German software company with American Depository Shares registered with the SEC) resolved a $3.9 million Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action.

As highlighted here, in 2019 the company disclosed additional FCPA scrutiny and stated: “SAP has received communications and whistleblower information alleging conduct that may violate anti-bribery laws in South Africa, the United States (including the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)), and other countries.”

Yesterday, SAP joined the ever-growing FCPA repeat offender club as the DOJ and SEC announced (here and here) related FCPA enforcement actions against the company. The net FCPA settlement amount is $102.5 million: DOJ ($63.6 million) and SEC ($38.9 million).

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Without Admitting Or Denying The SEC’s Findings, Goodyear Resolves SEC Administrative Action

Goodyear

As highlighted in this previous post, in February 2012 Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company disclosed as follows.

“In June 2011, an anonymous source reported, through our confidential ethics hotline, that our majority-owned joint venture in Kenya may have made certain improper payments. In July 2011, an employee of our subsidiary in Angola reported that similar improper payments may have been made in Angola. […]  Following our internal investigation, we … voluntarily disclosed the results of our investigation to the DOJ and the SEC, and are cooperating with those agencies in their review of these matters.”

As highlighted in this previous post, in October 2014 Goodyear disclosed that it recorded a charge of $16 million in connection with the above FCPA inquiry.

Yesterday, an actual enforcement action dripped from the FCPA pipeline as the SEC announced an administrative action against Goodyear in which the company, without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings, agreed to pay approximately $16 million.

In summary fashion, the SEC Order states:

“This case involves violations of the books, records, and internal control provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) by Goodyear. Goodyear, headquartered in Akron, Ohio, is one of the world’s largest tire companies. From 2007 through 2011, Goodyear subsidiaries in Kenya (Treadsetters Tyres Ltd., or “Treadsetters”) and Angola (Trentyre Angola Lda., or “Trentyre”) routinely paid bribes to employees of government-owned entities and private companies to obtain tire sales. These same subsidiaries also paid bribes to police, tax, and other local authorities. In all, between 2007 and 2011, Goodyear subsidiaries in Kenya and Angola made over $3.2 million in illicit payments.

All of these bribery payments were falsely recorded as legitimate business expenses in the books and records of these subsidiaries which were consolidated into Goodyear’s books and records. Goodyear did not prevent or detect these improper payments because it failed to implement adequate FCPA compliance controls at its subsidiaries in sub-Saharan Africa.”

Under the heading “Improper Payments in Kenya,” the Order states:

“Treadsetters is a retail tire distributor in Kenya. In 2002, Goodyear acquired a minority ownership interest in Treadsetters. By 2006, Goodyear had acquired a majority ownership interest in the company, though the day-to-day operations of Treadsetters continued to be run by Treadsetters’ founders and the local general manager. During the relevant time period, Treadsetters had annual revenues of approximately $20 million.

From 2007 through 2011, Treadsetters’ management regularly authorized and paid bribes to employees of government-owned or affiliated entities, and private companies, to obtain business. The practice was routine and appears to have been in place prior to Goodyear’s acquisition of Treadsetters. The bribes generally were paid in cash and falsely recorded on Treadsetters’ books as expenses for promotional products.

Treadsetters’ general manager and finance director were at the center of the scheme. They approved payments for phony promotional products, and then directed the finance assistant to write-out the checks to cash. Treadsetters’ staff then cashed the checks and used the money to make improper payments to employees of customers, which included both government owned entities and private companies.

Between 2007 and 2011, Treadsetters paid over $1.5 million in bribes in connection with the sale of tires. This included improper payments to employees of government-owned or affiliated entities including the Kenya Ports Authority, the Armed Forces Canteen Organization, the Nzoia Sugar Company, the Kenyan Air Force, the Ministry of Roads, the Ministry of State for Defense, the East African Portland Cement Co., and Telkom Kenya Ltd. During that same time period, Treadsetters also made approximately $14,457 in improper payments to local government officials in Kenya, including city council employees, police, and building inspectors.

Goodyear did not detect or prevent these improper payments because it failed to conduct adequate due diligence when it acquired Treadsetters, and failed to implement adequate FCPA compliance training and controls after the acquisition.”

Under the heading “Improper Payments in Angola,” the Order states:

“Trentyre was incorporated in 2007, and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Goodyear. Trentyre is primarily engaged in selling new tires for mining equipment. During the relevant time period, Trentyre had annual revenues between $6 million and $20 million.

From 2007 through 2011, Trentyre paid over $1.6 million in bribes to employees of government-owned or affiliated entities, and private companies, to obtain tire sales. Trentyre paid approximately $1.4 million of these bribes to employees of government-owned or affiliated entities in Angola, including the Catoca Diamond Mine, UNICARGAS, Engevia Construction and Public Works, the Electric Company of Luanda, National Service of Alfadega, and Sonangol. A majority of these improper payments were paid to employees of Trentyre’s largest customer at the time, the Catoca Diamond Mine, which is owned by a consortium of mining interests, including Endiama E.P., Angola’s national mining company, and ALROSA, a Russian mining company. During the same time period, Trentyre also made approximately $64,713 in improper payments to local government officials in Angola, including police and tax authorities.

The bribery scheme was put in place by Trentyre’s former general manager. To hide the scheme and generate funds for the improper payments, Trentyre falsely marked-up the costs of its tires by adding to its invoice price phony freight and customs clearing costs. On a monthly basis, as tires were sold, the phony freight and clearing costs were reclassified to a balance sheet account. Trentyre made improper payments to employees of customers both in cash and through wire transfers. As bribes were paid, the amounts were debited from the balance sheet account, and falsely recorded as payments to vendors for freight and clearing costs.

Goodyear did not prevent or detect these improper payments because it failed to implement adequate FCPA compliance training and controls at this subsidiary.”

Under the heading “Legal Standards and Violations,” the Order states:

“Goodyear subsidiaries in Kenya and Angola made improper payments to employees of government-owned entities and private companies to obtain business. These improper payments were falsely recorded as legitimate business expenses in the books and records of these subsidiaries which were consolidated into Goodyear’s books and records. Accordingly, Goodyear violated [the FCPA’s books and records provisions]. […] Goodyear also violated [the internal controls provisions] by failing to devise and maintain sufficient accounting controls to prevent and detect these improper payments.”

Under the heading “Goodyear’s Cooperation and Remedial Efforts,” the Order states:

“In determining to accept the Offer, the Commission considered remedial acts promptly undertaken by Respondent and cooperation afforded the Commission staff. After receiving information about the bribes, Goodyear promptly halted the improper payments and reported the matter to Commission staff. Goodyear also provided significant cooperation with the Commission’s investigation. This included voluntarily producing documents and reports and other information from the company’s internal investigation, and promptly responding to Commission staff’s requests for information and documents. These efforts assisted the Commission in efficiently collecting evidence including information that may not have been otherwise available to the staff.

Goodyear also has undertaken remedial efforts. In Kenya, Goodyear divested its ownership interest in Treadsetters, and ceased all business dealings with the company. In Angola, after Goodyear halted the improper payments its subsidiary lost its largest customer. Goodyear is now in the process of divesting this subsidiary.

Goodyear also undertook disciplinary action against certain employees, including executives of its Europe, Middle East and Africa region who had oversight responsibility, for failing to ensure adequate FCPA compliance training and controls were in place at the company’s subsidiaries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Goodyear also implemented improvements to its compliance program, both specific to its operations in sub-Saharan Africa, and globally. In Africa, the improvements include expanded on-line and in-person anti-corruption training for subsidiary management, sales, and finance personnel; regular audits, by internal audit, specifically focused on corruption risks; quarterly self-assessment questionnaires required of each subsidiary regarding business with government-affiliated customers; quarterly management certifications from every subsidiary that cover among other things controls over financial reporting; and annual testing of internal controls at each subsidiary. To increase oversight, Goodyear also put in place a new regional management structure, and added new compliance, accounting, and audit positions. Goodyear is also making technology improvements, where possible, to electronically link subsidiaries in sub-Saharan Africa to its global network. At the parent company, Goodyear created a new senior position of Vice President of Compliance and Ethics, which further elevated the compliance function within the company. Goodyear has also expanded on-line and in-person anti-corruption and ethics training at its other subsidiaries, and implemented a new Integrity Hotline Web Portal, which enhanced users’ ability to file anonymous online reports to its hotline system. With that system, Goodyear is also implementing a new case management system for legal, compliance and internal audit to document and track complaints, investigations and remediation. Goodyear also has updated its policies governing third-party agents and vendors, and is in the process of implementing a new third-party due diligence software tool.”

Without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings, Goodyear agreed to pay $16,228,065 (disgorgement of $14,122,525 and prejudgment interest of $2,105,540). In addition, Goodyear is required to report to the SEC staff “periodically, at no less than 12-month intervals during a three-year term, [on] the status of its remediation and implementation of compliance measures.”  The Order states that the SEC “is not imposing a civil penalty based upon its cooperation in a Commission investigation and related enforcement action.”

In this SEC release, Scott Friestad (Associate Director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division) stated:

“Public companies must keep accurate accounting records, and Goodyear’s lax compliance controls enabled a routine of corrupt payments by African subsidiaries that were hidden in their books. This settlement ensures that Goodyear must forfeit all of the illicit profits from business obtained through bribes to foreign officials as well as employees at commercial companies in Angola and Kenya.”

Joan McKown (Jones Day and a former SEC enforcement division attorney) represented Goodyear.

Yesterday, Goodyear’s stock closed down .09%.

Friday Roundup

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Scrutiny alerts and updates, guilty pleas, across the pond, and admiration.  It’s all here in the Friday roundup.

Scrutiny Alerts and Updates

Airbus

The largest FCPA enforcement action of all-time (Siemens) began with a raid by Munich law enforcement on company offices.  Will this be the origin of another large FCPA enforcement action?  Reuters reports:

“Munich prosecutors are carrying out an investigation at Airbus’s defence unit over alleged corruption linked to contracts with Romania and Saudi Arabia […] The Munich prosecutor’s office said it was investigating EADS, as Airbus Group was formerly called, over suspicion of paying bribes to foreign officials and tax evasion in connection with business in the two countries. It said a small number of people were under investigation and that material confiscated from searches related to those people and different companies was now being evaluated. Prosecutors searched offices on suspicion that bribes were paid to enable the company to obtain contracts worth 3 billion euros (2.3 billion pounds) in Saudi Arabia and Romania […] Airbus said prosecutors were investigating irregularities in border security projects awarded to Airbus’s defence business, but declined to confirm details.”

Airbus has American Depositary Receipts that trad on U.S. exchanges.

Och-Ziff Capital Management Group

The Wall Street Journal recently reported:

“U.S. investigators probing Och-Ziff Capital Management Group LLC’s  dealings in Libya are focused on a multimillion-dollar payment by the big hedge-fund firm they believe was funneled in part to a friend of Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s son, said people briefed on the inquiry. The scrutiny is part of a broad, three-year foreign bribery investigation by the Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission into how Wall Street firms obtained investments from the regime of the former dictator, who was deposed and killed in the country’s 2011 revolution. A key part of the Och-Ziff investigation relates to a fee that Och-Ziff paid to the company of a London middleman for help winning a $300 million investment in Och-Ziff funds from the Gadhafi regime, the people briefed on the matter said.”

Petrobras

In Petrobras-related news and further to “Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Ripples,” Reuters reports:

“State-controlled oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA and its top executives face a class-action lawsuit in a federal court in New York over an alleged contract fixing, bribery and kickback scheme that lawyers say inflated the value of the company’s assets. The suit was filed by law firm Wolf Popper LLP in the Southern District of New York on Monday on behalf of investors who bought U.S.-traded shares of the Brazilian company, commonly known as Petrobras, between May 20, 2010, and Nov. 21, 2014. […] The complaint alleges that Rio de Janeiro-based Petrobras “made false and misleading statements by misrepresenting facts and failing to disclose a culture of corruption at the company that consisted of a multi-billion dollar money-laundering and bribery scheme embedded in the company since 2006.”

Guilty Pleas

As highlighted in this prior post, in April 2014 two additional individual defendants (Benito Chinea and Joseph DeMeneses, the Chief Executive Officer and a Managing Partner, respectively of Direct Access Partners) were added to the FCPA (and related) enforcement action against individuals associated with broker dealer Direct Access Partners.  (See here for the original May 2013 enforcement action against Jose Hurtado and Tomas Clarke and here for an additional individual, Ernesto Lujan, being added to the enforcement action in June 2013). Like in the previous enforcement actions, the additional defendants Chinea and DeMeneses  were criminally charged in connection with alleged improper payments to Maria Gonzalez (V.P. of Finance / Executive Manager of Finance and Funds Administration at Bandes, an alleged Venezuelan state-owned banking entity that acted as the financial agent of the state to finance economic development projects).

The DOJ recently announced that:

Chinea and DeMeneses pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the Travel Act.  Chinea and De Meneses have also agreed to pay $3,636,432 and $2,670,612 in forfeiture, respectively, which amounts represent their earnings from the bribery scheme.  Sentencing hearings are scheduled for March 27, 2015.

In the release, DOJ Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell stated:

“Benito Chinea and Joseph DeMeneses are the fifth and sixth defendants to plead guilty in connection with this far-reaching bribery scheme, which ranged from Wall Street to the streets of Caracas. The guilty pleas and the forfeiture of assets once again demonstrate that the Department is committed to holding corporate executives who engage in foreign bribery individually accountable and to deny them the proceeds of their corruption.”

Across the Pond

Alstom-Related Charges

The recent FCPA enforcement action against Alstom and related entities was just one prong of the enforcement action.

The enforcement action also involved a United Kingdom component as the Serious Fraud Office announced charges against Alstom Power Limited, Nicholas Reynolds, and John Venskus for violating section 1 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906 and conspiracy in violation of section 1 of the Criminal Act 1977.

The charges were based on the following allegation.

Alstom Power Limited, Nicholas Reynolds, John Venskus and others, between February 14, 2002 and March 31, 2010 “did corruptly give or agree to give an official or officials or other agents of AB Lietuvos Elektrine, gifts or consideration, namely money, disguised as payments in respect of a Consultancy Agreement with Vilmentrona UAB as an inducement or reward for showing favour to the Alstom Group in relation to the award or performance of a contract between Alstom Power Limited and said AB Lietuvos Elektrine for the Low NOx Burners project at the Elektrenai Power Plant in Lithuania.”

See here for Alstom’s January 2012 release regarding the project.

According to a SFO release, “Alstom Power Ltd, Nicholas Reynolds and John Venskus’ case has been formally sent from Westminster Magistrates’ Court, for a Preliminary Hearing at Southwark Crown Court on 5 January 2015.”

Smith and Ouzman Ltd., et al

Earlier this week, the SFO announced:

“Smith and Ouzman Ltd and two employees were convicted today at Southwark Crown Court as a result of a Serious Fraud Office investigation into corrupt payments made for the award of business contracts to the company.  The corrupt payments totalling £395,074 were made to public officials for business contracts in Kenya and Mauritania. The company, Smith and Ouzman Ltd, a printing firm based in Eastbourne which specialises in security documents such as ballot papers and certificates, was convicted of three counts of corruptly agreeing to make payments, contrary to section 1(1) of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906. Christopher John Smith, former chairman of Smith and Ouzman, age 71, from East Sussex, was convicted of two counts of corruptly agreeing to make payments. Nicholas Charles Smith, former sales and marketing director of Smith and Ouzman, age 43, from East Sussex was convicted of three counts of corruptly agreeing to make payments. Timothy Hamilton Forrester, former international sales manager of Smith and Ouzman, age 57, from East Sussex was acquitted of all three counts of corruptly agreeing to make payments. Mr Abdirahman Mohamed Omar, a sales agent for Smith and Ouzman, age 38, from London, was acquitted of one count of corruptly agreeing to make payments in relation to a contract in Somaliland.”

Director of the SFO, David Green commented:

“This is the SFO’s first conviction, after trial, of a corporate for offences involving bribery of foreign public officials. Such criminality, whether involving companies large or small severely damages the UK’s commercial reputation and feeds corrupt governance in the developing world. We are very grateful to the Kenyan authorities for their assistance in this case.”

Sentencing is due to take place on 12 February 2015.

Anti-Corruption Plan

The U.K. government recently released this “Anti-Corruption Plan.” It is described as “bring[ing] together, for the first time, all of the UK’s activity against corruption in one place.”

The pamphlet-style document is so general in nature, it is difficult to offer any constructive comments.

Admiration

My admiration for Judge Jed Rakoff (S.D.N.Y.) continues.

In this recent piece titled “Why Innocent People Plead Guilty,” Judge Rakoff writes:

“The criminal justice system in the United States today bears little relationship to what the Founding Fathers contemplated, what the movies and television portray, or what the average American believes. To the Founding Fathers, the critical element in the system was the jury trial, which served not only as a truth-seeking mechanism and a means of achieving fairness, but also as a shield against tyranny. As Thomas Jefferson famously said, “I consider [trial by jury] as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution.” The Sixth Amendment guarantees that “in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury.” The Constitution further guarantees that at the trial, the accused will have the assistance of counsel, who can confront and cross-examine his accusers and present evidence on the accused’s behalf. He may be convicted only if an impartial jury of his peers is unanimously of the view that he is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and so states, publicly, in its verdict. The drama inherent in these guarantees is regularly portrayed in movies and television programs as an open battle played out in public before a judge and jury. But this is all a mirage. In actuality, our criminal justice system is almost exclusively a system of plea bargaining, negotiated behind closed doors and with no judicial oversight. The outcome is very largely determined by the prosecutor alone.”

Job Opening

Sig Sauer Inc. (based in Newington, NH) is actively looking for an Associate General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer with corporate compliance experience. If interested, please contact Jeff.Chartier@sigsauer.com.

*****

A good weekend to all.

 

Across The Pond

Posts last week largely focused on two Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement actions (see here, here and here).

This post goes across the pond to check in on three U.K. developments.

First, a recent Serious Fraud Office (“SFO”) pre-Bribery Act enforcement action against Smith & Ouzman Ltd. and related individuals, second recent speeches by SFO officials, and third the start of criminal trials against various former top-level executives of News Corp.’s News of the World publication.

SFO Flexes Its Pre-Bribery Act Muscle

The U.K. Bribery Act went live on July 1, 2011 and its provisions are forward looking only (this is the most obvious reason why there has yet been a FCPA-like Bribery Act enforcement).  However, the SFO recently flexed its muscles in an enforcement action concerning conduct pre-dating the Bribery Act.

Last week, the SFO announced that “Smith & Ouzman Limited [a U.K. based printing company specialising in security documents such as ballot papers], two of its directors, an employee and one agent have been charged by the Serious Fraud Office with offences of corruptly agreeing to make payments totaling nearly half a million pounds, contrary to section 1 Prevention of Corruption Act 1906.”

According to the SFO release:

“The individuals, all British nationals, are:

Chris Smith – the former Chairman of Smith and Ouzman Limited

Nick Smith – the Sales and Marketing Director of Smith and Ouzman Limited

Tim Forrester –  the International Sales Manager for Smith and Ouzman Limited

Abdirahman Omar – an agent for Smith and Ouzman Limited

The alleged offences are said to have taken place between November 2006 and December 2010 and relate to transactions in Mauritania, Ghana, Somaliland and Kenya.”

SFO Director David Green On Self-Reporting

This October 2012 post highlighted an SFO release detailing “revised policies” concerning, among other things, corporate self-reporting.

Last week, SFO Director released this statement concerning self-reporting.

“It is now a year since I changed the published SFO guidance on self-reporting by corporates.  The guidance I inherited contained an implied presumption that self-reported misconduct would be dealt with by civil settlement rather than prosecution.  I took the view that no prosecutor should appear to offer such a guarantee in advance. As a prosecutor, you can never anticipate what set of facts and conduct might be next in through the door.  I took the guidance back to the historic position agreed with the Director of Public Prosecutions: that we would apply the full code test for crown prosecutors to self-reported criminality. In other words, we ask (after our own investigation): is there sufficient evidence to prosecute, and if so, is a prosecution in the public interest?  The SFO’s message is carefully expressed and nuanced. Assume the evidential sufficiency test is passed. If a company made a genuine self-report to us (that is, told us something we did not already know and did so in an open- handed, unspun way), in circumstances where they were willing to cooperate in a full investigation and to take steps to prevent recurrence, then in those circumstances it is difficult to see that the public interest would require a prosecution of the corporate. Some parts of the blogosphere seem to have difficulty with this, writing that it means self-reporters will be prosecuted. It means no such thing.”

As to Green’s comment about the blogosphere, the prior post stated.  “For the most part, although much ink is likely to be spilled by FCPA Inc. / Bribery Act Inc. in the coming days, the SFO’s “revised policies” are a yawner.”

Back to Green’s statement.

“Some corporate lawyers complain that the new approach (actually, the principled, established approach) creates “uncertainty”. I disagree: and I think that when they say “certainty” it is code for “guarantee”.  For the avoidance of doubt, the SFO continues to receive self-reports, and I anticipate the numbers will only rise as Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPAs) bed in next year.  So why should a company self-report instances of suspected criminal misconduct to the SFO?

(i) A self-report at the very least mitigates the chances of a corporate being prosecuted.  It opens up the possibility of civil recovery or a DPA; (ii) There is the moral and reputational imperative: it is the right thing to do and it demonstrates that the corporate is serious about behaving ethically; (iii) If the corporate chooses to bury the misconduct rather than self-report, the risk of discovery is unquantifiable. There are so many potential channels leading to exposure: whistle-blowers; disgruntled counterparties; cheated competing companies; other Criminal Justice agencies in the UK; overseas agencies in communication with SFO; and the SFO’s own developing intelligence capability, to name but a few;(iv) If criminality is buried and then discovered by any of the above routes, the penalty paid by the corporate in terms of shareholder outrage, counterparty and competitor distrust, reputational damage, regulatory action and possible prosecution, is surely disproportionate; (v) Last but not least, burying such information is likely to involve criminal offences related to money laundering under sections 327-9 of the Proceeds of Crime Act.

There are, I suggest, very powerful arguments in favour of self-reporting.  Once the decision to self-report has been made by the corporate, then the question of timing arises. Common sense suggests that an initial report of suspected criminality should be made to the SFO as soon as it is discovered. This surely protects the company against the SFO finding out by other means whilst the company investigates further. The corporate can then investigate in depth and report back to the SFO. The SFO will carry out its own assessment with possible use of S2A powers (in the case of bribery), and, if justified, the opening of a criminal investigation and the exercise of S2 powers.  One argument I have heard against self-reporting is that the SFO does not prosecute corporates, because it is said to be too difficult in our jurisdiction.  Certainly I am used to unfavourable comparisons being made of the SFO with US prosecutors in this area of activity.  The reason is simple: a US prosecutor uses the respondeat superior principle: a corporate is vicariously liable for the acts of its managers and employees.”

There is another simple reason for the disparity between U.S. and U.K. “prosecutions” for bribery and corruption offenses.  Simply put, the U.S. has the option of a non-prosecution or deferred prosecution agreement.  At present, the U.K. does not have these options, although it is close to utilizing DPAs.  As even the OECD has observed (see here) “it seems quite clear that [NPAs and DPAs] is one of the reasons for the impressive FCPA enforcement record in the U.S.”  I’ve long viewed the U.K.’s desire to use DPAs as a public relations tactic to catch up in the enforcement competition game (see here).

Back to Green’s statement.

“In English law, the test for corporate criminal liability requires proof that the “controlling mind” of the company (ie, board level senior management) was complicit in the relevant criminality. Absent emails, or a cooperating witness, that is never an easy thing to show.  An answer to this would be to extend the principle contained in S7 of the Bribery Act 2010, which creates the corporate offence of a company failing to prevent bribery by its employees, with a statutory defence of adequate procedures.  The reach of the section could easily be extended to cover not just bribery but acts of fraud by employees.

I have heard objections to such a change:-  (a)  That this would be punishing mere corporate negligence (to which I say, it would be about improving bad corporate culture).  (b) That prosecution of the corporate adds nothing to the prosecution of the guilty individuals (I am not proposing that a corporate should face prosecution in every case- far from it. But there will be cases where it is right and just that failure to prevent certain types of conduct should result in the corporate being marked with a criminal conviction).  (c)  That it would simply punish the shareholders (shareholders, particularly large institutional shareholders, should be vigilant about where they invest and how the corporate in which they invest behaves).

I would argue that prosecution of a corporate would be appropriate where, for example, the company profited from fraud by its employees; where a particular illegal practice was common and tolerated in a particular sector; where deterrence was needed in a sector; or where a company has brought in a compliance regime but senior management had failed to ensure enforcement of that regime.  Such a change would also cure a problem inherent in the DPA regime. If prosecution of a corporate is currently difficult, why should a corporate agree to enter a DPA at all?  DPA’s represent a very useful addition to the prosecutors’ toolbox for use in appropriate circumstances. They avoid the collateral damage caused by a full blown prosecution of a corporate. They are not a panacea. But the problem I have highlighted (which admittedly will not necessarily arise in every case) needs to be addressed. I think it comes to this: if the public interest demands more corporate prosecutions, then this change would help make that happen.”

In a separate speech before the World Bribery and Corruption Compliance Forum in London, Alun Milford (General Counsel of the SFO) touched upon many of the same issues Green discussed.

Among other things, Milford talked about the “Bribery Act industry” and I took note of Milford’s following statement given my often expressed view that an FCPA compliance defense can better incentivize corporate conduct and further advance the objectives of the FCPA.  Milford stated that “the Bribery Act [which contains an adequate procedures defense] has led to a significant amount of work in developing stronger, more ethical corporate cultures.”

Former News Corp. Exec Trials

In July 2011, worldwide media attention was focused on News Corp (see here).

The conduct at issue had many prongs, including various privacy issues.  One prong concerned allegations that News Corp’s News of the World publication paid up to five U.K. police officers to obtain information that better allowed it to write juicy stories.  Thus began News Corp.’s FCPA-like scrutiny and since then the original point of inquiry has – as is typical – expanded to include other conduct.

As to the alleged U.K. payments at issue, focus turned to the old “who knew what and when did they know it” question.  Several individuals associated with News of the World were criminally charged, including for conduct implicating the alleged bribery prong of News Corp’s scrutiny.

Two individual charged were Rebekah Brooks, the former editor of News of the World and Andy Coulson, another former News of the World editor.  The criminal trial of these individuals, along with others, began this week in London.

What happens in these trials concerning the bribery offenses will not determine the outcome of any potential News Corp. FCPA enforcement action.  But you can bet that the DOJ and SEC will be interested in the ultimate outcome.  In short, if there is a judicial finding that Brooks and/or Coulson or other high-level executives in London authorized or otherwise knew of the alleged improper payments, this will likely be a factor in how the DOJ and SEC ultimately resolve any potential enforcement action and how News Corp.’s overall culpability score may be calculated under the advisory Sentencing Guidelines.

For more on the trials and individuals involved see here, here, here and here.

Oxford Publishing Resolves U.K. SFO / World Bank Actions

Last July, the U.K. publisher resolving an enforcement action concerning textbook and other sales in East Africa was Macmillian Publishing (see here for the prior post).  This July, it is Oxford Publishing Limited (OPL), a wholly owned subsidiary of Oxford University Press (OUP).

Yesterday the U.K. Serious Fraud Office announced (here) an enforcement action against OPL regarding “unlawful conduct related to subsidiaries incorporated in Tanzania and Kenya.”  The conduct at issue included “participating in public tenders for contracts to supply governments with text books and other educational materials for the school curricula.”

Pursuant to a civil recovery order under the Proceeds of Crime Act, OPL agreed to pay £1,895,435.

Under the heading “self referral” the SFO release states as follows.

“In 2011, OUP became aware of the possibility of irregular tendering practices involving its education business in East Africa.  OUP acted immediately to investigate the matter, instructing independent lawyers and forensic accountants to undertake a detailed investigation. As a result of the investigation, in November 2011 OUP voluntarily reported certain concerns in relation to contracts arising from a number of tenders which its Kenyan and Tanzanian subsidiaries … entered into between the years 2007 and 2010. […] The investigation was thorough – involving numerous interviews and an extensive review of documents and electronic data – and completed to the satisfaction of the SFO. The substantial product of those investigations was presented to the SFO […]  The product of that work led the SFO … to believe that [OPL subsidiaries] had offered and made payments, directly and through agents, intended to induce the recipients to award competitive tenders and/or publishing contracts for schoolbooks.”

The SFO release states that “a number of relevant features … led to the decision to pursue a civil recovery order in place of a criminal prosecution.”  Those factors include the following:  “OUP has conducted itself in a manner which fully meets the criteria set out in the SFO guidance on self reporting matters of overseas corruption” and “there is no evidence of Board level (or the equivalent) knowledge or connivance within OUP in relation to the business practices which led to the case being referred to the SFO.”  The SFO release also states as follows.  “The products supplied were of a good standard and provided at ‘open market’ values.  This means that the jurisdictions involved have not been victims as a result of overpaying for the goods or as a result being supplied goods which were unsuitable or not required.”

The SFO release further states as follows.

“Since the occurrence of the conduct that is the subject matter of the civil recovery order, OUP has introduced enhanced compliance procedures intended to significantly reduce the risk of recurrence of such conduct within OUP.  These procedures will be subject to review by a monitor who will report to the Director of the SFO within twelve months …”.

As noted in the SEC release, OUP also “unilaterally offered to contribute £2,000,000 to not-for-profit organisations for teacher training and other educational purposes in sub-Saharan Africa.  This was a reflection of the seriousness with which OUP views the course of events that were subject to the investigation and a wish to acknowledge that the conduct of [its subsidiaries] fell short of that expected within its wider organisation.”  As to this contribution, the SFO releases states that it “decided that the offer should not be included in the terms of the court order as the SFO considers it is not its function to become involved in voluntary payments of this kind.”

In the release, SFO Director David Green states as follows.  “This settlement demonstrates that there are, in appropriate cases, clear and sensible solutions available to those who self report issues of this kind to the authorities.  The use of Civil Recovery powers has been exercised in accordance with the Attorney General’s guidelines.  The company will be adopting new business practices to prevent a recurrence of these issues and these new procedures will be subject to an extensive and detailed review.”

Finally, the SFO release notes that it “has previously been subject to criticism in relation to the transparency of the processes and proceedings in civil recovery matters.”  Thus the SFO release links to a number of documents including this Claim Form which sets forth specific claim details.

Based on the same core conduct, the World Bank also announced yesterday (here) that “OUP has agreed to make a payment of US$500,000 to the World Bank.”  In addition, as part of a negotiated resolution, the World Bank “announced the debarment of two wholly-owned subsidiaries of OUP, namely: Oxford University Press East Africa Limited (OUPEA) and Oxford University Press Tanzania Limited (OUPT) – for a period of three years following OUP’s acknowledgment of misconduct by its two subsidiaries in relation to two Bank-financed education projects in East Africa.”

In a statement (here) OUP Chief Executive Nigel Portwood stated as follows.

“OUP is committed to maintaining the highest ethical standards, and we have been deeply concerned to discover evidence of wrongdoing in two of our African subsidiaries. We do not tolerate such behaviour. As soon as these matters came to light we acted immediately to investigate thoroughly and report to the relevant authorities. We have strengthened our management in the region and are taking appropriate disciplinary action in respect of those involved in this conduct.”

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