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DOJ Seeks Court Order To Release Previously Withheld Privileged Documents In Connection With Alleged Adoption Agency Bribery Scheme


As highlighted in prior posts here and here, in 2019 and 2020 (in a rather unusual Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action) the DOJ criminally charged various individuals associated with Ohio-based European Adoption Consultants Inc. (EAC) with FCPA and related criminal charges in connection with a Ugandan bribery scheme and other conduct.

One defendant, Robin Longoria, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to violate the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions and to commit wire fraud and visa fraud “for her role in a scheme to corruptly facilitate adoptions of Ugandan children through bribing Ugandan officials and defrauding U.S. adoptive parents and the U.S. Department of State.” The subsequently charged defendants, Margaret Cole, Debra Parris and Dorah Mirembe, appear to be mounting a defense.

Recently, the DOJ filed a motion seeking a court order allowing its privilege “filter team” (which currently possesses thousands of documents related to EAC and its former attorneys that were obtained during the investigation) to disclose the documents to the prosecution team because EAC’s assertion of privilege no longer applies because EAC is “defunct and thus no longer has the ability to assert privilege over those materials.”

According to the DOJ’s filing, “during a multi-year FBI investigation, the Government executed premises search warrants at EAC locations, seizing thousands of pages of physical records and electronic devices. The government also executed electronic search warrants of e-mail and social media accounts associated with EAC and its former employees.”

In response to the DOJ’s request to release the privileged documents to the prosecution team, EAC argued (among other things) that under applicable law it retains the right to invoke the attorney-client privilege because EAC maintains pending claims against the U.S. Department of State pursuant to an administrative federal tort claim in connection with its international adoption license.

As noted in the recent DOJ filings, “EAC has not been charged with any crimes and on December 11, 2020 the Government notified EAC that it was declining to pursue any charges against EAC in connection with this investigation.”

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