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World Acceptance Corp. Resolves $21.7 Million Enforcement Action Based On The Conduct Of A Former Wholly-Owned Mexico Subsidiary

world accept

As highlighted in this prior post, in June 2017 World Acceptance Corporation (a South Carolina based consumer finance company) disclosed that it was “conducting an internal investigation of its operations in Mexico, focusing on the legality under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and certain local laws of certain payments related to loans, the maintenance of the Company’s books and records associated with such payments, and the treatment of compensation matters for certain employees.”

As highlighted in this prior post, in May 2020 the company disclosed that “discussions with the SEC have progressed to a point that the Company can now reasonably estimate a probable loss and has recorded an aggregate accrual of $21.7 million with respect to the SEC matters.”

Yesterday, the SEC announced that World Acceptance Corp. agreed to resolve a $21.7 million FCPA enforcement action based on the actions of a former wholly-owned Mexican subsidiary it sold in July 2018.

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Approximately 7.5 Years After Disclosing FCPA Scrutiny, Walmart FINALLY Resolves FCPA Enforcement Action

Wal-Mart

As highlighted in this prior post, in late 2011 Walmart disclosed that it began “an internal investigation into whether certain matters, including permitting, licensing and inspections, were in compliance” with the FCPA.

So began arguably one of the most high-profile instances of corporate scrutiny in Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. history. The scrutiny FINALLY came to an end yesterday as the DOJ and SEC announced (here and here) a coordinated $282 million enforcement action. As highlighted in this prior post, Walmart disclosed this likely settlement amount in November 2017,  yet it still took approximately 1.5 additional years to formally resolve the matter.

This post summarizes the DOJ and SEC’s enforcement action concerning alleged improper conduct in the following countries: Mexico, Brazil, India and China.  Future posts will explore numerous other issues relevant to the enforcement action.

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Fresenius Medical Care Pays Approximately $232 Million To Resolve Its Long-Standing FCPA Scrutiny

fresenius

German healthcare firm Fresenius Medical Care AG (a company with American Depositary Receipt shares traded on the NYSE) has been under FCPA scrutiny since 2012 (no that is not a typo).

Today the DOJ and SEC announced (here and here) an approximate $232 million enforcement action ($84.7 million to the DOJ and $147 million to the SEC) against the company for alleged bribery schemes involving physicians and other healthcare personnel in Angola, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Spain, Turkey, Gabon, Benin, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Niger, Cameroon China, Serbia, Bosnia, and Mexico.

While not specified in any of the resolution documents, the DOJ’s non-prosecution agreement and SEC’s administrative order make generic reference to the Angola and Saudi Arabia conduct involving ‘agents and employees utiliz[ing] the means and instrumentalities of U.S. interstate commerce, including the use of internet-based email accounts hosted by numerous service providers located in the United States.”

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Biomet Becomes An FCPA Repeat Offender

zimmer

For many years, the DOJ has advanced the policy position that DPAs and NPAs “have had a truly transformative effect on particular companies and, more generally, on corporate culture across the globe.” (See here for the prior post). Specifically in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act context, the DOJ has stated that “the companies against which DPAs and NPAs have been brought have often undergone dramatic changes.”  (See here for the prior post).

As highlighted here, in March 2012 Biomet resolved an FCPA enforcement action involving alleged conduct in Brazil, Argentina, and China by agreeing to pay approximately $22.8 million ($17.3 million via a DOJ deferred prosecution agreement, and $5.5 million via a settled SEC civil complaint).

Since then, FCPA Professor has chronicled (herehere and here) how Biomet’s DPA was extended, how the DOJ ultimately came to conclude that Biomet had breached its DPA based on subsequent improper conduct, and how an additional FCPA enforcement was expected.

Last week, the DOJ and SEC announced (here and here) the additional FCPA enforcement action against Zimmer Biomet Holdings (in 2015 Zimmer Holdings acquired Biomet) and Biomet. As highlighted below, a portion of the improper conduct involved the same distributor in Brazil that gave rise to the 2012 FCPA enforcement action.

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DOJ Announces Criminal Charges And Plea Agreements In Connection With Mexican Aviation Bribery Scheme

FBO

This recent post highlighted the many Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement actions involving the aviation industry.

Add another to this long list as yesterday, the DOJ announced that criminal charges “were unsealed against six individuals, all of whom have pleaded guilty for their involvement in schemes to bribe Mexican officials in order to secure aircraft maintenance and repair contracts with government-owned and controlled entities, and two for conspiring to launder the proceeds of the schemes.”

The criminal FCPA conspiracy charges were against four individuals: Daniel Perez, Kamta Ramnarine, Victor Valdez, and Douglas Ray.

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