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Friday Roundup

A sign-off, no surprise, scrutiny alert, for the reading stack, spot-on, and the $10 million man.

Judge Leon Signs-Off On IBM Action

As highlighted in this prior post, in March 2011 the SEC announced an FCPA enforcement action against IBM concerning alleged conduct in South Korea and China.  The settlement terms contained a permanent injunction as to future FCPA violations and thus required judicial approval.  Similar to the Tyco FCPA enforcement action, the case sat on Judge Leon’s docket.  Last month, Judge Leon approved the Tyco settlement (see here) and yesterday Judge Leon approved the IBM settlement.

The common thread between the two enforcement actions would seem to be that both companies were repeat FCPA offenders.

Like Judge Leon’s final order in Tyco, the final order in IBM action states:

“[For a two year period IBM is required to submit annual reports] to the Commission and this Court describing its efforts to comply with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”), and to report to the Commission and this Court immediately upon learning it is reasonably likely that IBM has violated the FCPA in connection with either improper payments to foreign officials to obtain or retain business or any fraudulent books and records entries …””

For additional coverage of yesterday’s hearing, see here from Bloomberg.  The article quotes Judge Leon as follows.  IBM “has learned its lesson and is moving in the right direction to ensure this never happens again.” If there’s another violation over the next two years, “it won’t be a happy day.”

However, as noted in this previous post, IBM recently disclosed additional FCPA scrutiny.

No Surprise

This recent post highlighted the 9th Circuit’s restitution ruling in the Green FCPA enforcement action and was titled “Green Restitution Order Stands … For Now.”  As noted in the prior post, the decision practically invited the Greens to petition for an en banc hearing.

No surprise, the Greens did just that earlier this week – see here for the petition.

Scrutiny Alert

This February 2012 post detailed how Wynn Resorts $135 million donation to the University of Macau became the subject of an SEC inquiry.

Earlier this month, Wynn disclosed in an SEC filing as follows:

“On February 13, 2012, Wynn Resorts, Limited (the “Company”) filed a Report on Form 8-K disclosing that it had received a letter from the Salt Lake Regional Office (the “Office”) of the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) advising the Company that the Office had commenced an informal inquiry with respect to certain matters, including a donation by Wynn Macau, Limited, an affiliate of the Company, to the University of Macau Development Foundation. On July 2, 2013, the Company received a letter from the Office stating that the investigation had been completed with the Office not intending to recommend any enforcement action against the Company by the SEC.”

According to this report:

“Speaking to The Associated Press from his boat on the Spanish island of Ibiza … CEO Steve Wynn said he never had any doubt federal investigators would clear the company.  ‘We were so sanguine that we never paid any attention to it; we had no exposure. It was a nonevent except for the damn newspapers.'”

For the Reading Stack

The always informative Gibson Dunn Mid-Year FCPA Update and Mid-Year DPA and NPA Update (through July 8th, approximately 30% of all DPAs/NPAs have been used to resolve FCPA enforcement actions).

Sound insight from Robertson Park and Timothy Peterson in this Inside Counsel column:

“Without putting too fine a spin on the matter, the discussion of the potential consequences faced by a company with potential anti-bribery exposure was fundamentally U.S.-centric. The dispositive question was often whether or not the potential misconduct was likely to fall under the umbrella of FCPA enforcement. Would U.S. authorities be interested in pursuing this matter? Would they find out about this matter? There were not many other concerns that mattered. Whether the site of the potential misconduct was in the European, Asian, South American or African sector, the substantial likelihood was that home authorities would have little interest in the matter, and even if they did it was likely an interest that would often frustrate and impede efforts by the Department of Justice or the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate the matter. Cooperative enforcement was unlikely. This has changed. […]  For companies that learn of a potential international corruption issue, the impact of this emerging global enforcement market means that the headache associated with scoping an internal investigation is now a migraine with diverse and complex symptoms. Companies investigating potential bribery have always faced the question of how, if at all, they plan to disclose any subsequent findings to government authorities. Now, initial assessments of investigative plans in anti-bribery matters must consider a broader array of potentially interested enforcement authorities. Companies must design their anti-bribery investigations at the outset to consider not only the FCPA enforcement regime in the U.S., but also a newly energized U.K. anti-bribery law, along with a growing list of ant-bribery measures in almost all of the important jurisdictions with business growth opportunities.”

Six ways to improve in-house compliance training from Ryan McConnell and Gérard Sonnier.

The reality of facilitation payments from Matt Kelly.

“… Facilitation payments are a fact of life in global business. Nobody likes them, and no compliance officer wants to pay a bribe disguised as a facilitation payment. But when the transaction truly fits the definition of a facilitation payment—money paid to a government official, to speed up some job duty he would normally perform anyway—there shouldn’t be any ethical or legal crisis in paying it. After all, we have facilitation payments domestically in the United States. If you want a passport from the State Department, you pay $165 in fees. If you want an expedited passport, you pay an extra $60 fee and get your passport in half the usual time. That’s a facilitation payment, pure and simple. Other countries have all sorts of facilitation payments as well, say, to get a visa processed quickly or to clear goods through customs rather than let them rot on the docks. Urgent needs happen in business, and facilitation payments get you through them. That’s life.”

The language of corruption from the BBC.


Regardless of what you think of former New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, he is spot-on with his observation that the so-called Arthur Anderson effect (i.e. if a business organization is criminally charged it will go out of business) is “overrated.”  As noted in this Corporate Crime Reporter piece, in a new book titled “Protecting Capitalism Case by Case” Spitzer writes:

“Almost all entities have the capacity to regenerate — even if under a new name, with new ownership and new leadership — and forcing them to do so will have the deterrent effect we desire.”

“Most companies would have no trouble continuing in operation once charged. They might suffer reputational harm, perhaps lose contracts, have certain loans be declared to be in default, and lose some personnel and public support. But that would probably be the proper price to be paid in the context of the violations of the law they committed.”

As noted in previous posts, the Arthur Anderson effect was effectively debunked (see here) and even Denis McInerney (DOJ, Deputy Assistant Attorney General) recently acknowledged (see here) that there is a very small chance that a company would be put out of business as a result of actual DOJ criminal charges.

In his new book Spitzer also writes as follows concerning the SEC’s neither admit nor deny settlement policy.

“I hope that the new leadership at the Securities and Exchange Commission will mandate that an admission of guilt is a necessary part of future settlements in cases of this stature or magnitude. The law and justice require such an acknowledgement — or else nothing has been accomplished.”

Speaking of neither admit nor deny, part of the SEC’s talking points defense of this policy is that the SEC is not the only federal agency that makes use of such a settlement policy.

On this score, it is notable – as detailed in this Law360 article – that Bart Chilton, a top official at the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, “said the commission should rethink its policy of allowing defendants to settle claims without admitting or denying the allegations.”  According to the article, Chilton stated:

“I understand there are certain circumstances where we might not want to require [admissions], but I think we at the CFTC should change our modus operandi.  The default position should be that people who violate the law should admit wrongdoing.”

$10 Million Man

Continuing with neither admit nor deny, one of the defenders of this settlement policy was Robert Khuzami while he was at the SEC as the Director of Enforcement.   As noted in this Kirkland & Ellis release, Khuzami joined the firm as a partner in the global Government, Regulatory and Internal Investigations Practice Group.  According to this New York Times article, Khuzami’s new position “pays more than $5 million per year” and is guaranteed for two years.  In joining Kirkland, the New York Times stated that Khuzami “is following quintessential Washington script: an influential government insider becoming a paid advocate for industries he once policed.”

Khuzami and former Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer were the voice and face of the SEC and DOJ last November upon release of the FCPA Guidance.  As detailed in this prior post, Breuer is currently at Covington & Burling making approximately $4 million per year.


A good weekend to all.

Friday Roundup

The U.S. intervenes, I disagree, I agree, and say what.  It’s all here in the Friday roundup.

U.S. Intervenes in Wynn-Okada Dispute

Numerous prior posts (see here, here and here for instance) have highlighted the dispute between Wynn Resorts and its former board member Kazuo Okada.  Earlier this week, Bloomberg reported as follows.  “The U.S. asked to intervene in a lawsuit brought by Wynn Resorts Ltd., which accused Okada of making improper payments to Philippine gambling regulators. The Justice Department said in an April 8 filing in state court in Las Vegas that it doesn’t want the civil case to disrupt its criminal investigation into the same underlying allegations.”  According to Bloomberg:  “Okada’s lawyers have said they would probably oppose the request “in whole or in part,” according to the filing. Wynn Resorts won’t oppose its request, the Justice Department said.”  For additional coverage, see here from the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

I Disagree

Earlier this week a reader of the FCPA Blog (see here) posed the following question.  “One thing  that has not gotten much discussion is the possibility that the apparent slowdown in FCPA enforcement may be due to the spike in declinations.”

Putting aside the big-picture and highly relevant issue of what is a declination (see here as well as other embedded posts on this issue), when addressing the issue of FCPA enforcement statistics, it is important to keep in mind (as highlighted in this prior post) the following.

Just three unique historical events (Iraq Oil for Food, Bonny Island, Nigeria conduct, and Panalpina-related issues) served as the foundation for 35% of all corporate FCPA enforcement actions between 2007-2011 and resulted in 55% of settlement amounts in corporate enforcement actions between 2007-2011.  Adding just the 2008 Siemens enforcement action to the settlement amount calculation, results in just four unique historical events accounting for 77% of settlement amounts in corporate enforcement actions between 2007-2011.

Recognizing these events and how they impacted FCPA enforcement data is important to understanding why FCPA enforcement has declined in recent years.

Even though FCPA enforcement has declined in recent years, unique events giving rise to FCPA enforcement actions have remained relatively constant between 2007 and 2012.  In 2007, corporate FCPA enforcement actions were the result of 15 unique events.  In 2008, corporate FCPA enforcement actions were the result of 10 unique events.  In 2009, corporate FCPA enforcement actions were the result of 11 unique events.  In 2010, corporate FCPA enforcement actions were the result of 14 unique events.  In 2011, corporate FCPA enforcement actions were the result of 16 unique events.  In 2012, corporate FCPA enforcement actions were the result of 12 unique events.

I Agree

Dieter Juedes (who like me is a product of Sheboygan County, Wisconsin) recently published “Taming the FCPA Overreach Through an Adequate Procedures Defense” in the William & Mary Business Law Review.  Among other things, the article “proposes specific statutory language that Congress could use in adopting such a defense and it establishes precise factors to be promulgated by the DOJ and SEC for determining whether a firm’s procedure would be deemed “adequate.”

Given my prior article “Revisiting a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Compliance Defense,” I agree with the general thrust of Juedes’s article.

Say What?

I don’t quite understand the logic or rationale of this op-ed piece in the South China Morning Post by Robert Precht (director of Justice Labs Limited, a Hong Kong think tank).

Precht argues that “the efforts of some Western countries to enforce their own anti-bribery laws in China are more likely to produce false accusations and hinder democratic reform than reduce corruption.”  He states as follows.  “One of the unintended harms of enforcing the US anti-bribery law in China is that it may actually stifle efforts to end corruption. US journalists, human rights workers and university researchers play an important role in shining light on the darker recesses of Chinese politics. Preventing Americans from making gifts to Chinese to obtain information useful to promote democratic reform will hinder the disclosure role the Americans play.”

According to Precht, “the solution is simple.”  He argues that “the US Congress should amend the law, providing that it will only be applied in countries that meet certain minimum requirements of democracy and will not be applied in authoritarian regimes such as China.”

A good weekend to all.

Friday Roundup

Strange things tend to happen on Halloween, does your foreign local counsel present FCPA risk, insights from the boardroom, checking in on the Wynn-Okada battle royale, tobacco companies in the Middle East, a hat tip, and unmasked.  It’s all here in the Friday roundup.

Halloween Hearing Date

Strange things tend to happen on Halloween.  Thus, it is fitting that U.S. District Court Judge Keith Ellison (S.D. Tex.)  has set October 31st as the hearing date for the motion to dismiss in the SECs FCPA enforcement action against Mark Jackson and James Ruehlen.  See here for a prior post linking to the briefs and arguments.  How strange is this?  It is believed that the last time the SEC stood before a federal court judge to defend its FCPA enforcement theories was in 2002.  As noted in this previous post, the SEC lost that case.

Foreign Counsel Risk

A company engages foreign local counsel to help it accomplish a business objective.  The company pays thousands of dollars in legal bills  to the counsel without probably giving much thought to Foreign Corrupt Practices Act risk. 

In this recent article in the Duquesne Business Law Journal, Zachary Cregar (Liberty Mutual Insurance Group, Senior Litigation Auditor) sets forth the need to include foreign legal counsel due diligence and audits within an FCPA compliance program. 

Cregar concludes the article as follows.  “Foreign outside counsel supervision and legal bill auditing is not only a successful method of detecting corrupt payments, but it pays dividends beyond the realm of FCPA compliance. Cost savings from discovered billing irregularities will likely justify the cost of the program itself. While companies’ bottom lines are impacted by over-billing or fraudulent legal invoices, the financial stakes grow ever higher within the purview of the FCPA. Corporate anti-corruption and due diligence policies may be helpful in reducing hefty FCPA violation penalties after the fact. However, only vigorous, real-time auditing and detection of corrupt payments at the onset will avoid foreign corruption from even occurring.”

Current instances of FCPA scrutiny which involve, at least in part, questions regarding foreign legal counsel include Wal-Mart’s conduct in Mexico and Las Vegas Sands conduct in Macau.

Insights From the Boardroom

PwC’s Annual Corporate Director Survey, “Insights from the Boardroom 2012,” is available for download here.  It contains a few FCPA / bribery / corruption related statistics.

Which of the following has your company done in response to the 2011 SEC whistleblower rules?   43% of respondents indicated that their companies have expanded the role of internal audit for bribery and corruption compliance and 11% of respondents indicated that their companies scheduled more board discussions regarding bribery and corruption.

I argue in “Revisiting a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Compliance Defense” here that, among other reasons, the FCPA should be amended to include a compliance defense because such a defense will better incentivize corporate compliance and thus reduce improper conduct.  I state that organizations with existing FCPA compliance policies and procedures will be incentivized to make existing programs better and that organizations currently without stand-alone FCPA policies and procedures (and statistics indicate there are many) will be incentivized to spend finite resources to implement compliance policies and procedures.

Imagine the FCPA is amended in 2012 to include a compliance defense. What would the numbers in PwC’s 2013 survey look like if respondents asked “which of the following has your company done in response to the FCPA compliance defense amendment.”  I can only speculate as to the exact numbers, but I am confident in saying that more than 43% of respondents would indicate that their companies expanded the role of internal audit for bribery and corruption compliance and that more than 11% of respondents would indicate that their companies scheduled more board discussions regarding bribery and corruption.

Another question in the survey was the following.  Indicate if you would like your board to devote more time in the upcoming year to considering the following matters?  As to bribery and corruption concerns, 2% said yes, much more time and focus than in the past; 20% said yes, but not a great increase from the past; 75% said no, a change is unnecessary; and 3% said no, decrease our time and focus— we spend too much time on this.

The PwC survery occurred this past summer and was based on responses of 860 public company directors (70% of whom serve on the board of companies with more than $1 billion in annual revenue).


As noted in this previous summary post, it is one of the strangest instances of FCPA scrutiny one can imagine.  A corporate board member accuses the company of conduct that could implicate the FCPA, which then causes the SEC to open an inquiry, which then results in the company accusing the board member of separate and distinct conduct that could implicate the FCPA.

Its the Wynn-Okada battle royale.

Earlier this week Kazuo Okada (President of Aruze USA, Inc. – Aruze is the largest stockholder of Wynn Resorts with current ownership of approximately 20% of the outstanding shares) released this letter to Wynn’s shareholders concerning various corporate governance changes.

The letter states, under the heading “Suspicious $135 million donation to the University of Macau Development Foundation” as follows.

“In April 2011, the Board met, discussed, and approved a pledge by Wynn Macau, Limited (“Wynn Macau”), a subsidiary of the Company, to donate HK$1 billion (roughly $135 million) to the University of Macau Development Foundation, at a time when Wynn Macau was seeking local government approval to develop a third casino.  This donation is suspicious for a number of reasons, including its enormous size, the fact that the 10-year term of the pledge matches precisely the length of the casino license Wynn Resorts was seeking, and the fact that the lead trustee of the University of Macau Development Foundation also has a position in the Macau government which enables him to influence the issuance of gaming licenses. Mr. Okada questioned and objected to the donation and was ultimately the sole director to vote against it.  Mr. Okada has noted that “I am at a complete loss as to the business justification for the donation, other than that it was an attempt to curry favor with those that have ultimate authority for issuing gaming licenses.”  Following the April 2011 board meeting, pursuant to his rights as a director of the Company and in furtherance of his fiduciary duties to stockholders of the Company, Mr. Okada, sought to further investigate the Wynn Macau donation and requested additional information from Wynn Resorts concerning the donation and related matters.  When the Company refused to provide the information, Mr. Okada took legal action and was vindicated by a court order requiring Wynn Resorts to comply with Mr. Okada’s reasonable requests.  As Mr. Okada feared, the questionable Wynn Macau donation has already spawned at least four stockholder lawsuits against the Company and investigations by both the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (for possible violations of law including the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act) and the Nevada Gaming Board.  Not only is this enormous financial commitment a drain on the Company’s coffers, but now Wynn Resorts stockholders will be saddled with the added costs associated with responding to the regulatory investigations and lawsuits.  If the results of these investigations and lawsuits include the development of facts regarding legally questionable practices by the Company, stockholders will be at still further risk.”

In response, Wynn Resorts issued this statement which states as follows.  ““Aruze has not been a stockholder of Wynn Resorts, Limited since February 18, 2012 when its shares were redeemed by the Wynn Board after a lengthy, third-party investigation uncovered prima facie evidence of improper conduct under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by Mr. Okada, Universal Entertainment and Aruze in their dealings with Philippine officials.  This most recent filing is a regrettable attempt to divert attention from the issues facing Mr. Okada and Aruze. Given the fact that Aruze was ejected seven months ago as a Wynn shareholder based on conduct unacceptable for a gaming licensee, it has absolutely no rights as a shareholder to nominate directors and its invalid nominations have been rejected on this basis.”

Tobacco Companies in the Middle East

An interesting article (here) from the Saudi Gazette.

The article states as follows.  “In most countries, public smoking is banned. Taxes on the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco related products are high, and labeling on cigarette packs is often very graphic and clear: Smoking kills!  From the United States to Australia, governments are clamping down on tobacco companies with regulations to throttle consumption and it seems to be working. And so, tobacco companies have to seek other markets. The Middle East is fertile ground as anti-smoking legislation is weak at best, and a fast growing birthrate means a higher number of potential smokers. As a result, big tobacco companies quickly established regional headquarters for the GCC market in the UAE and set to work.”  The article then describes how a source tells of companies reaching out to “area [government] officials to lessen any impact on tobacco sales.”

As noted in this prior post,  in August 2010, U.S. tobacco companies Alliance One International and Universal Corporation resolved FCPA enforcement actions.

Hat Tip

A hat tip to Christopher Matthews, Samuel Rubenfeld and others associated with the Wall Street Journal’s Corruption Currents page on their two-year anniversary.  Corruption Currents (here) is a daily read for me and should be for anyone interested in FCPA and related topics. 

Who is that Masked Man?

A small town Midwesterner who saw the world and became interested in a law is who.  Thanks to Tom Fox (FCPA Compliance and Ethics Blog) for the opportunity to tell my story.  See here for the Q&A.


A good weekend to all.

Friday Roundup

The guidance is coming – the guidance is coming, compliance by the numbers, checking in on Wynn-Okada, industry news, and refreshing candor.  It’s all here in the Friday roundup.


Since Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer announced last November that the DOJ would be issuing FCPA guidance in 2012 (see here for the prior post), approximately 25 years after Congress encouraged the DOJ to issue guidance, FCPA Inc. has been waiting patiently, and too long (see here for the prior post), for such guidance.

There have been whispers that the guidance would be released in October and this recent Wall Street Journal Corruption Currents post by Chris Matthews, citing “people familiar with the matter” confirms those whispers.

Compliance Practices By The Numbers

What percentage of the Fortune 500 have publicly available, stand-alone FCPA compliance policies and procedures?  Do the policies and procedures include discussion of the FCPA’s books and records and internal control provisions?  How do companies  address facilitation payments?  What about gift-giving?

Answers can be found in this recent article in Corporate Counsel by Ryan McConnell (Baker & McKenzie), Jay Martin (Baker Hughes) and Paula Bonavides (a University of Houston law student).


Remember Kazuo Okada, the former business partner of Steve Wynn, accused of various FCPA violations by Wynn Resorts earlier this year?  Given the nature of Wynn’s  investigative report authored by former FBI Director Louie Freeh of Freeh, Sporkin & Sullivan LLP (see this prior post which provides a detailed summary of the report) it is not surprising, as noted in this Reuters article, that Okada has filed a defamation lawsuit in Japan against the casino company and its officials.  According to the article, Okada is claiming $140 million in damages and he alleges that Wynn’s actions led to a decline in his company’s stock price, a decline in new business opportunities, and damaged his reputation.  As noted in the Reuters article, a Wynn spokesperson said that Okada’s lawsuit is an “attempt to distract” from the real issues facing Okada and his company “as identified in the Freeh Report.”

Industry News

Speaking of Freeh, in addition to his role in the Wynn-Okada dispute, he is also known in FCPA circles for being the monitor in the Daimler FCPA enforcement action.  (See here for the prior post).

As noted in this release from Pepper Hamilton LLP, the firm “and the lawyers of Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan, LLP  announced the union of the legal talent of the two firms and Pepper Hamilton’s acquisition of Freeh Group International Solutions, LLC.”

Refreshing Candor

FCPA Inc. participants are of course an active group of speakers.  But rarely does one find much candor in the discussions.  FCPA Inc. participants often filter what they say cognizant of client issues and mindful of what the small world of enforcement agency officials will think of them.  I’ve had numerous exchanges with industry participants in which a person says something insightful or provocative. I then offer up the opportunity to publish a guest post on FCPA Professor, and the person declines.

Against this backdrop, this recent transcript of the 2012 Chief Legal Officer Leadership Forum hosted by Argyle Executive Forum is a nice read in that Adam Siegel (the c0-chair of global white collar group at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer) speaks with refreshing candor.  Siegel (here, a former federal prosecutor) states as follows.

Regarding a compliance defense.

“Well, the U.K. act, even though it’s perceived as being broader and worse than the FCPA, has this wonderful feature to it, which is that a corporation is legally not responsible if it had adopted adequate procedures.  It’s a great argument that we can take to the business about why they ought to invest in an appropriate compliance program.  It means we’re actually innocent and you’re not begging some 27-year-old – apologies to anyone in the room of that age – to exercise their enormous discretion and give the corporation and shareholders a pass because some rogue employee in Indonesia has decided that they were going to do something to hit their targets this year.”

On the increase in FCPA enforcement.

“In 2005, due to some changes in personnel and some other issues of justice, someone realized that they can use this statute more aggressively.  If you think back to 2007, we had a major record in FCPA civil and criminal finds; $150 million.  I think people were amazed that in that year that was what the government was able to do.  Fast forward to 2010 and you’re at $1.8 billion.  I mean, if any of us in this room have a business that has grown at that rate, I think we’d all be very happy and our shareholders would be delighted.”

On the global trend of increased enforcement.

“I think some of it is pressure from globalization.  I think a lot of it is looking at the numbers on that chart.  I think a lot of the global anti-bribery movement is driven by regulators around the world saying, Okay, a German company just paid $300 million to the U.S.  That’s sort of funny to us.  Where are we in this? I think there is some international pressure.  There is the pressure of raising the bar, but there’s also a very cynical pressure of raising money.  We’re in an economic climate today where I don’t think there’s a single government in the world that isn’t struggling to find resource.  This area has emerged, again, as a money making center, which is kind of bizarre.”


A good weekend to all.

Friday Roundup

Out with the tide, a former DOJ Fraud Section Chief speaks on voluntary disclosure, guidance issues, will candy fall from the pinata, schooled in the FCPA, a Section 1504 development, and “Minegolia.”

Tidewater Derivative Complaint Dismissed

As highlighted in this previous post, in November 2010 Tidewater Inc. was one of several companies to resolve a “CustomsGate” case.  The conduct at issue focused on Azeri tax officials and Nigerian temporary import permits and the company resolved DOJ and SEC enforcement actions by agreeing to pay $15.7 million in fines and penalties.

As if on cue in this new era of FCPA enforcement, along came the private plaintiff firms representing shareholders who filed a derivative complaint alleging that officers and members of the Board of Directors of Tidewater breached their fiduciary duties “in that they: (1) knew or recklessly disregarded the fact that employees, representatives, agents and/or contractors were paying, had paid and/or had offered to pay bribes to Azerbaijani and Nigerian government officials to obtain favorable treatment for Tidewater; (2) caused Tidewater to pay bribes and to disguise the bribe payments as legitimate expenses in Tidewater’s books and financial disclosures; and (3) failed to maintain adequate internal controls to ensure compliance with the FCPA and Exchange Act.”

Earlier this week, the case was swept out with the tide as U.S. District Court Judge Jane Triche Milazzo dismissed the complaint – see here for the decision.  In short, Judge Milazzo found that “Plaintiff did not adequately plead demand futility.”  Judge Milazzo utilized various tests in reaching her decision such as director interest and independence and whether the board could impartially consider the merits of the demand without being influenced by improper considerations.

As to interest, Judge Milazzo stated as follows.

“This Court finds that the Complaint is completely devoid of any allegations of an interested director. There is no allegation that any director appeared on both sides of a transaction or expected to derive a personal financial benefit from it. Nowhere in the Complaint can it be found that any one of the directors, much the less a majority of them, benefitted from the bribes themselves, benefitted from failing to establish and maintain adequate internal controls, benefitted from enforcing policies and programs designed to prevent violations, benefitted from improperly recorded payment of bribes in Tidewater’s books and records or benefitted from inadequately training their employees, agents, representatives and/or contractors with respect to compliance with the FCPA.”

As to alleged director participation or knowledge , Judge Milazzo stated that the “Complaint falls woefully short of pleading facts that are sufficient to show that there was any knowledge or conscious disregard on behalf of the directors.”

As to whether the directors exhibited bad faith sufficient to overcome business judgment rule presumptions, Judge Milazzo stated as follows.  “While Plaintiff’s allegations are sufficient to show that Tidewater was evidently violating both the FCPA and the Exchange Act, nowhere in the Complaint do Plaintiff’s allegations meet the specificity to show that the Individual Defendants were acting with the intent to violate these laws.  ‘[T]he mere fact that a violation occurred does not demonstrate that the board acted in bad faith.  Alleging that ‘upon information and belief’ the ‘Headquarters’ made the decision to avoid tax assessments in violation of the FCPA falls woefully short of the pleading requirements. Nowhere can this Court find who made this decision, how this decision was made or that there was an intent to violate any law. Moreover, the Court finds it significant that Tidewater’s directors voted and voluntarily initiated an FCPA investigation and advised the federal government of their violations before the government even suspected any violations.”

Tyrell on Voluntary Disclosure

You know the talking points.  The DOJ wants companies to voluntarily disclose, not ifs, ands or buts about it.  It’s interesting though how this becomes less of a black and white issues when individuals leave the DOJ.

In this recent Q&A in The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel, Steven Tyrell (a former DOJ Fraud Section Chief and current partner at Weil Gotshal – here) was asked the following question – “what is the role of voluntary reporting in establishing a good relationship with the regulatory and enforcement authorities?”

He stated as follows.

In the first instance, if a company has a legal obligation to disclose – for example, government contractors are obliged to disclose fraud – then the analysis begins and ends there. Assuming there is no legal obligation that compels disclosure or no imminent threat of disclosure by an outside party, such as a newspaper, then I typically advise clients to take credible allegations of wrongdoing seriously, look into those allegations in a manner that is appropriate under the circumstances, and assess the nature and extent of the company’s exposure and the pros and cons of disclosure. Then, and only then, should a disclosure be made if it is in the best interest of the company – or, for a public company, if the securities laws require it. Of course, it often will not be in a company’s best interest to disclose if, for example, the allegations prove not to be credible or if it is unclear whether the conduct even amounts to a violation of law. Under those circumstances, a disclosure could unnecessarily embroil the company in a lengthy and costly government investigation and result in other repercussions such as triggering civil litigation and harm to a company’s reputation that could otherwise be avoided. It’s a challenging calculus. I can tell you from past experience that there are companies that have strong reputations for compliance with regulators and others that do not. However, the fact that a company doesn’t disclose a problem that ultimately comes to DOJ’s attention is not necessarily going to damage the company’s credibility with DOJ. Regulators recognize that not every allegation should be of interest to them – and, frankly, having counsel that knows when they’ll be interested and when they won’t is really important.”

Guidance Issues

As highlighted in this previous post, soon after Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer announced in November 2011 that FCPA guidance would be forthcoming in 2012, Senator Grassley sought guidance on the guidance and asked Attorney General Holder several follow-up questions for the record.  For a copy of Holder’s responses, see here.

In this previous post, among others, I commented that non-binding DOJ guidance is not the best way to accomplish real and meaningful FCPA reform.

Thus, I completely agree with former DOJ Deputy Attorney General George Terwilliger and former DOJ attorney and Senate counsel Matthew Miner (both currently at White & Case, see here and here) when they state as follows in this article.

“The fact that the Justice Department recognizes the need for such guidance underscores the existence of blurry lines and fuzzy standards surrounding the FCPA. US businesses trying to compete successfully in the international commercial arena deserve better. Justice Department ‘guidance’ is neither enough, nor is it properly the role of prosecutors to be definitive interpreters of ambiguities in criminal laws. Congress writes the laws and, as the US Supreme Court has firmly established, has a responsibility to set clear standards for what is permissible and what is not. It should not stand aside in deference to the Justice Department’s plan to craft guidance, especially when that guidance will have no effect in court.”

Yara Fertilizer

It has been said before that anytime a foreign company is the subject of a corruption probe, the U.S. enforcement agencies are like children at a birthday party waiting for some candy to fall from the pinata.  Think what you will of the analogy.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported (here) that “Norwegian fertilizer producer Yara International ASA’s chief executive, Jorgen Ole Haslestad, apologized Friday to the company’s employees after an investigation uncovered millions of dollars in ‘unacceptable’ payments in India and Switzerland, as well as ‘unacceptable offers of payments’ in Libya.”  According to the article, the “unacceptable offers of payments” in Libya involve “a consultant related to the establishment of the company Libyan Norwegian Fertilizer Co., or Lifeco, in Libya, a joint venture with the Libyan National Oil Corp. and the Libyan Investment Authority.”

As noted on the company’s website here, Yara “has a sponsored Level 1 ADR program for American Depositary Receipts (ADRs), which represent ownership in shares of foreign (non-US) companies that trade on US financial markets.”  Whether foreign companies, including those with Level 1 ADR’s can become subject to the FCPA, see this excellent piece “When Does an ADR Program Give U.S. Authorities FCPA Jurisdiction Over a Foreign Issuer?”

Time will tell if the candy falls.

Checking in on Wynn Resorts

Previous posts here, here and here focused on the Wynn-Okada dispute including Wynn’s $135 million charitable contribution to the University of Macau.  On that topic, this recent Wall Street Journal article focused on the “web of political ties” between a Macau company paid by Wynn and government officials.  Regarding Wynn’s FCPA compliance in expanding in Macau, company CEO Steve Wynn stated as follows.  “This whole business of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act—we were schooled in this.”

Final grade is pending.

Section 1504 Development

Several prior posts, see here for example, discussed Section 1504 of Dodd-Frank, the so-called Resource Extraction Disclosure Provisions and the long delay in SEC final rules.  As noted in this Corruption Current post by Samuel Rubenfeld, the SEC recently announced here that on August 22nd, “the Commission will consider whether to adopt rules regarding disclosure and reporting obligations with respect to payments to governments made by resource extraction issuers to implement the requirements of Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.


There has been only one FCPA enforcement concerning, at least in part, business conduct in Mongolia (see here for the 2009 UTStarcom action).  This is hardly surprising, as few companies subject to the FCPA have traditionally engaged in business in the country.  However, as noted in this recent Al Jazerra article, Mongolia or “Minegolia” as the country is sometimes called, “is undergoing a rapid transformation, due to its incredible resource wealth in minerals such as coal, copper, and gold.” At the same time, the article notes that “Transparency International placed Mongolia 120th out of 183 nations on its corruption perception index” and that “90 percent of Mongolians believe politicians are benefitting from ‘special arrangements’ with foreign enterprises over mining rights.”


A good weekend to all.

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