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Potpourri

Potpourri

Commercial Bribery

The United Kingdom Bribery Act is a more comprehensive statute than the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Unlike the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions which has a required “foreign official” element, the U.K. Bribery Act – including its so-called Section 7 “failure to prevent bribery” offense – is capable of capturing commercial bribery as well.

Last week the United Kingdom Serious Fraud Office announced a Deferred Prosecution Agreement with Airline Services Limited (ASL) “for three counts of failing to prevent bribery arising from the company’s use of an agent to win three contracts … to refit commercial airliners for Lufthansa.”

According to the DPA, “at the time [between 2011 and 2013], notwithstanding the recent passing of the Bribery Act, ASL had made negligible efforts to educate its staff or to introduce processes to identify and counteract occasions of bribery.”

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The UK Serious Fraud Office 2020 Deferred Prosecution Agreement Guidance: Something Old and Something New

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A guest post from Gibson Dunn attorneys Sacha Harber-Kelly and Steve Melrose.

Mr. Harber-Kelly is a former prosecutor at the SFO and was appointed to lead the SFO’s engagement in the cross-governmental working group which devised the DPA legislative framework, and subsequently appointed to draft the DPA Code of Practice, which sets out how prosecutors will operate the DPA regime.

On October 23, 2020, the UK Serious Fraud Office published a new chapter from its internal Operational Handbook, which it describes as “comprehensive guidance on how we approach Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPAs), and how we engage with companies where a DPA is a prospective outcome.”

At the time of its publication, the Director of the SFO, Lisa Osofsky, remarked, “Publishing this guidance will provide further transparency on what we expect from companies looking to co-operate with us.” Director Osofsky’s full remarks are here.

The 2020 DPA Guidance (“the Guidance”) is here.

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Potpourri

Potpourri

Agreement in Principle

As highlighted in prior posts here and here in 2016 hedge fund Och-Ziff resolved a $412 million Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action concerning improper business practices in various African countries.

As highlighted in this 2018 post, former shareholders of Canadian mining company Africo Resources Ltd. (“Claimants”) sough restitution pursuant to the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act for losses allegedly incurred as a result of Och-Ziff’s bribery of corrupt officials in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

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An In-Depth Look At The U.K. Prosecution Of Airbus

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These pages have long asserted that if a country is to have a deferred prosecution regime that the regime in the United Kingdom (which requires meaningful judicial review and approval) is far more preferable than the U.S. regime.

This is apparent when reviewing the Statement of Facts,, Deferred Prosecution Agreement and Approved Judgment relevant to the U.K. Serious Fraud Office prosecution of Airbus. (See here for a collection of the U.K. documents and see here for the prior post regarding the U.S. enforcement action). The U.K. documents provided a substantially more thorough and transparent glimpse into the underlying conduct compared to the U.S. resolution documents.

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Facade Of Enforcement Across The Pond

Laughable

A facade of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement is when a business organization – often for reasons of risk aversion and efficiency – agrees to resolve an enforcement action in the absence of any judicial scrutiny even though no employee or agent of the company (business organizations obviously can only act through real human beings) was charged. (See here for the article “The Facade of FCPA Enforcement” and here for the article “Measuring the Impact of NPAs and DPAs on FCPA Enforcement.”)

Even more troubling is when employees are charged, put the government to its burden of proof, are acquitted yet the business organization still resolves an enforcement action based on the same underlying conduct.

This 2014 post, published after the United Kingdom formally adopted deferred prosecution agreements, was titled “The U.K. Enters the Facade Era.” As discussed below, recently there was a major facade moment in the U.K.

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