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Deutsche Bank Joins The Repeat Offender Club By Resolving Second FCPA Enforcement In Just 16 Months

deutsche

In August 2019, Deutsche Bank paid $16.2 million “to settle changes that it violated the FCPA by hiring relatives of foreign government officials [in both the Asia Pacific Region and Russia] in order to improperly influence them in connection with investment banking business).” (See here and here for prior posts).

Late Friday, Deutsche Bank (a German investment bank and financial services company with shares traded on the NYSE between 2009 and 2016) joined the ever expanding list of FCPA repeat offenders as the DOJ and SEC announced (here and here) an approximate $122.6 million Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action focused on the company’s relationship with third parties in Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, Italy, and China.

The approximate 16 month gap between Deutsche Bank’s FCPA enforcement actions is the shortest among the large group of FCPA repeat offenders.

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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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Survey Says …

Survey Results

The OECD recently released this study titled “Corporate Anti-corruption Compliance Drivers, Mechanisms and Ideas for Change.” The study largely relies on results of a survey “to better understand the extent to which companies are currently motivated to take measures to prevent and detect bribery and other forms of corruption in their business dealings.”

The survey size was very small (only 130 survey respondents – largely individuals in a legal or compliance role in their companies – with the U.S. having the most respondents – with the largest number of respondents in the healthcare industry). As a result the survey was not representative as even the report recognized: “a company that does not have a compliance program probably would not have an interest in participating in a study of such program – thus it is important to remember that the percentage of respondents who indicated that their companies have such a program is not at all indicative of the percentage of overall companies in the world that have such programs.”

Even as to this survey group, as highlighted below several survey responses caught my eye and call into question whether “soft” enforcement of the FCPA (and related laws) has been successful (see here for the article “Has the FCPA Been Successful in Achieving Its Objectives”) or whether compliance can best be incentivized with a compliance defense (see here for the article “Revisiting an FCPA Compliance Defense”).

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Sargeant Marine Cements $16.6 FCPA Resolution With DOJ Regarding Bribery Schemes In Brazil, Venezuela, And Ecuador

Sargeant Marine

Earlier this week, the DOJ announced that Sargeant Marine Inc. (SMI – an asphalt company based in Florida) “pleaded guilty and agreed to pay $16.6 million to resolve foreign bribery charges stemming from conduct by the company and its employees and agents in Brazil, Venezuela and Ecuador.”

The total criminal penalty was actually $90 million, but because of SMI’s “inability to pay” the settlement amount was only $16.6 million.

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Foreign Lawyers Are Third Parties Too

foreignlawyer

Companies doing business in the global marketplace engage all types of third parties. Generally, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act compliance tends to focus, with good reason, on third parties such as agents, representatives, distributors and others that assist a company in obtaining or retaining business.

However, given the DOJ and SEC’s broad interpretation of that element of the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions, any third party that has a point of contact with foreign officials – even if outside the context of foreign government procurement – can potentially expose a business organization to scrutiny and enforcement.

This includes foreign lawyers as the recent FCPA enforcement action against various individuals associated with adoption agency European Adoption Consultants once again highlights. Indeed, in this enforcement action a foreign lawyer herself was charged with FCPA violations – although it remains to be seen whether the jurisdictional basis will be challenged.

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