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The SEC Is Reportedly Sweeping Various Tech Companies

Sweeps

An industry sweep is a concept that entered the FCPA vocabulary over a decade ago.

As explained in this prior post by an FCPA practitioner:

“Industry sweeps are often led by the Securities and Exchange Commission  (“SEC”), which has broad subpoena power as a regulatory agency, arguably broader  oversight authority than prosecutors. They are different from internal  investigations or traditional government investigations, and present different challenges to companies. Because the catalyst may be wrongdoing in a single company, agencies may have no evidence or suspicion of specific violations in the companies subject to an industry sweep. A sweep may thus begin with possible cause, not probable cause. In sweeps, agencies broadly solicit information from companies about their past FCPA issues or present practices. And they may explicitly encourage companies to volunteer incriminating information about competitors. This practice not only fuels the “salesman’s defense” (that “everybody does it”), but can also generate anecdotal or speculative information that simply leads to additional rounds of inquiries.

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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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Oracle Becomes The 20th Corporate FCPA Repeat Offender

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As highlighted in this prior post, in 2012 Oracle resolved a $2 million SEC Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action finding that “Oracle violated the books and records and internal accounting controls provisions of the FCPA by failing to prevent Oracle India Private Limited from keeping unauthorized side funds at distributors from 2005 to 2007.”

As a condition of settlement, Oracle consented to the entry of a final judgment, among other things, “permanently enjoining it from future violations” of the books and records and internal controls provisions and in resolving the matter the SEC noted the “significant enhancements” Oracle made to its FCPA compliance program.

Yesterday, the SEC announced a $22.9 million FCPA enforcement action against Oracle “to resolve charges that it violated provisions of the FCPA when subsidiaries in Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and India created and used slush funds to bribe foreign officials in return for business between 2016 and 2019.”

In resolving a second FCPA enforcement action, Oracle becomes the 20th corporate FCPA repeat offender (see here for the list).

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Six Years After Juniper Networks Disclosed FCPA Scrutiny, It Resolves A $11.7 Million Joke Of An Enforcement Action Based On Russia And China Subsidiary Conduct

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As highlighted in this previous post, in mid-2013 Juniper Networks disclosed that it was under FCPA scrutiny. Over six years later, the SEC announced yesterday that the company agreed to pay approximately $11.7 million to resolve the scrutiny.

As highlighted below, the enforcement action was based on the conduct of Russia and China subsidiary employees. In Russia, certain sales employees of the Russian representative office of Juniper’s subsidiary secretly agreed with third party channel partners to provide discounts to customers that were parked in off-book funds some of which were used to pay for customer trips, including trips for government officials, some of which were predominately leisure in nature. In China, certain sales employees of Juniper’s Chinese subsidiaries falsified trip and meeting agendas for customer events in seeking approval from Juniper’s Legal Department.

Based on the conduct alleged in the enforcement action (which is beyond any conceivable statute of limitations) as well as actual FCPA legal authority, the enforcement action is a $11.7 million joke.

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Microsoft Resolves Long-Standing FCPA Scrutiny By Agreeing To Pay $25.3 Million

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Microsoft has been under Foreign Corrupt Practices Act scrutiny since early 2013 (see here for the prior post). Yesterday, the DOJ and SEC announced here and here an aggregate $25.3 million enforcement action against the company and a Hungarian subsidiary concerning conduct in Hungary, Saudi Arabia, Thailand and Turkey.

The enforcement action involved a DOJ component involving a non-prosecution agreement involving MS Hungary in which the entity agreed to pay a $8.8 million criminal penalty and an SEC administrative order against Microsoft finding violations of the FCPA’s books and records and internal controls provisions in which the company agreed, without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings, to pay disgorgement and prejudgment interest of approximately $16.5 million.

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