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Holder to Corrupt Foreign Officials – We Are Coming After Your Money

This weekend, in Doha, Qatar, Attorney General Eric Holder spoke at the Sixth Global Forum on Combating Corruption and Safeguarding Integrity (see here for the full text of his speech).

The forum was a meeting of nations which have signed on to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (see here).

One of the three “critical steps” Holder spoke of which all member nations should work together to ensure is that “corrupt officials do not retain the illicit proceeds of their corruption.”

Calling such asset recovery a “global imperative,” Holder announced a “redoubled commitment on behalf of the United States Department of Justice to recover” funds obtained by foreign officials through bribery.

As most readers of this blog know, the FCPA only applies to “bribe-givers” and not “bribe-takers.”

Notwithstanding the FCPA’s limitation, in recent years the DOJ has attempted to recover bribe proceeds.

Most notably, in January 2009, in the aftermath of the Siemens enforcement action, the DOJ filed a forfeiture action against bank accounts located in Singapore in the names of Zulfikar Ali, Fazel Selim, and ZASZ Trading and Consulting Pte Ltd. (“ZASZ”) (see here).

According to the DOJ’s complaint (see here), these accounts were used by Siemens and another company to bribe foreign officials in violation of the FCPA, specifically Arafat Rahman (“Koko”), the son of former Bangladeshi Prime Minister Khaleda Zia. The DOJ alleges that the illicit funds in these accounts flowed through U.S. financial institutions thereby subjecting them to U.S. jurisdiction.

In announcing the forfeiture action, a DOJ official said that the action “shows the lengths to which U.S. law enforcement will go to recover the proceeds of foreign corruption …” and that the DOJ will not only prosecute companies and executives who violate the FCPA, but will also use forfeiture laws “to recapture the illicit facilitating payments often used in such schemes.”

As to other means of potentially punishing the “bribe takers,” the FCPA blog recently posted on Presidential Proclamation 7750 (Jan. 2004) (see here).

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