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Bad Advertising – Ad Group WPP Resolves $19.2 Million FCPA Enforcement Action

WPP

Last Friday, the SEC announced that London-based WPP (the world’s largest advertising agency and a company with depositary shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange) agreed to resolve a $19.2 million Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action.

The enforcement action focused on WPP subsidiary conduct in India, China, Brazil and Peru.

In summary fashion, the SEC’s order finds:

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Potpourri

Potpourri

A bounty and a disclosure.

Bounty

Earlier this week the SEC released this order determining that a whistleblower is to receive approximately $3.5 million. According to the order: “Claimant alerted Commission staff of alleged securities laws violations, prompting Enforcement staff to expand an existing investigation into an additional geographic area. Claimant, a foreign national, also provided significant assistance to Commission staff by traveling to meet in person with staff, identifying an important witness, and providing multiple supplemental submissions that assisted the Commission in bringing the charges in the Covered Action.”

Pursuant to relevant law, the SEC protects the confidentiality of whistleblowers and does not disclose any information that could reveal a whistleblower’s identity. However, attorneys Andy Rickman and Christopher Connors confirmed that they represented the individual and that the award related to the Juniper FCPA enforcement action.

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Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry Updates Guidance to Prevent Foreign Bribery

METI

A guest post from Tokyo-based Latham & Watkins attorneys Kaede Toh and Junyeon Park.

In May 2021, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) revised the Guidelines for the Prevention of Bribery of Foreign Public Officials (Guidelines). Although the Guidelines do not impose legal obligations on companies, METI expects each company to create and implement an appropriate compliance system with reference to the Guidelines. The revised Guidelines include detailed guidance on due diligence prior to executing an acquisition or retaining a third-party agent — largely consistent with US government expectations under the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) — and urge Japanese companies and global companies with business operations in Japan to prohibit small facilitation payments. Companies that have business operations in Japan should understand and incorporate the most recent changes to the Guidelines into their local company compliance system to the extent appropriate.

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Amec Foster Wheeler / John Wood Group Enforcement Actions – What Actually Was Accomplished?

question marks2

Previous posts here, herehere and here highlighted various aspects of the recent U.S. and U.K. enforcement actions against Amec Foster Wheeler / John Wood Group.

The enforcement actions included: (i) a net $17.7 million FCPA enforcement action concerning conduct in Brazil; (ii) a net $142 million U.K. enforcement action concerning conduct in Brazil, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, and India; and (iii) a net approximately $17 million Brazil enforcement action concerning conduct in Brazil.

That is a lot of money going into government coffers, but the question needs to be asked: what actually was accomplished through these enforcement actions?

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Amec Foster Wheeler / Wood Group – In The Words Of Lord Justice Edis

Edis

If a country is to have a deferred prosecution agreement regime, the approach of the United Kingdom is far more preferable than the approach of the United States.

In the U.K. (unlike the U.S.), the judiciary is actively involved in the DPA process and the public is offered insight into the reasoning of the judge in approving the DPA (which often includes facts and information not mentioned in the resolution documents authored by the prosecutors).

Simply put, it is refreshing to hear from someone other than the prosecutors and this posts summarizes the judgment and reasoning of Lord Justice Andrew Edis in the recent U.K. portion of the enforcement action against Amec Foster Wheeler / John Wood Group. (see here for the prior post).

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