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Judicially Ordered Acquittals In FCPA Trials

Judicial Decision

As highlighted in this post, recently a federal trial court judge granted Lawrence Hoskins’s post-trial motion for acquittal on all FCPA charges.

Obtaining a judicially ordered acquittal (whether post-trial as in the Hoskins matter or at some other stage of a trial such as after the prosecution’s case in chief) rarely happens given the high burden a defendant has in seeking such an extraordinary remedy.

Yet, as highlighted in this post, judicially ordered acquittals have happened in several other individual FCPA prosecutions. These occurrences are notable given the relative infrequency of FCPA trials.

As highlighted in this post, in 1989 the DOJ charged Alfredo Duran (and others) with conspiracy to violate the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions for making to officials of the Dominican Republic in order to obtain the release of two aircraft seized by the government of the Dominican Republic. Duran put the DOJ to its burden of proof at trial in 1990 and at the close of the DOJ’s case, he filed a motion for judgment of acquittal arguing that “no reasonable jury could find that the purpose of any of the alleged intended payments was to assist […] in obtaining or retaining business” and that the government “has failed to adduce sufficient evidence to prove any intended payments were not facilitating or expediting payments for the purpose of expediting or securing routine governmental action (i.e. grease payments).” The trial court judge granted the acquittal and original source media accounts note that the judge said “the government failed to prove the charges against [Duran] were a crime under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.”

As highlighted in this post, in 1990 Harris Corporation and executives John Iacobucci and Ronald Schultz were criminally charged with conspiracy, FCPA anti-bribery violations, and FCPA books and records violations in connection with an alleged bribery scheme in Colombia. Harris, Iacobucci, and Schultz put the DOJ to its burden of proof in a 1991 trial. After the DOJ’s case in chief, the judge granted a motion of acquittal. Media reports stated as follows. “Shortly after the government rested its case, [the judge]  ruled from the bench that ‘no reasonable jury’ could convict the company nor its executives on any of the five bribery-related counts for which they were indicted. Citing insufficient evidence, [the judge] said the government had failed to show any intent by the defendants to enter into a criminal conspiracy. [The judge] also said it was the first time in his six years on the federal bench that he had dismissed a criminal case at mid-trial for lack of evidence.”

As highlighted in this post, in 2011 in the Africa Sting case the trial court judge granted Pankesh Patel’s acquittal motion at the end of the DOJ’s case in chief regarding a substantive FCPA charge based on Patel sending a DHL package  – containing a purchase agreement in furtherance of the alleged corrupt scheme – from the U.K. to the U.S.

As highlighted in this post, also in 2011 in the Africa Sting case during the second trial, the trial court judge granted an acquittal motion at the end of the DOJ’s case by all defendants regarding an FCPA conspiracy charge. Because this was the only count Stephen Giordanella was charged with by the government, the acquittal motion ended the case against him. In addition, the judge granted acquittal motions as to substantive FCPA charges against defendants John and Jeana Mushriqui.

As highlighted in this post, John Josepeh O’Shea (a former General Manager of ABB Inc.) was criminally charged “for his alleged role in a conspiracy to bribe Mexican government officials to secure contracts with the Comisión Federal de Electridad (CFE), a Mexican state-owned utility company.” In 2012, at the close of the DOJ’s case in chief, the trial court judge granted O’Shea’s motion for acquittal and found him not guilty of all substantive FCPA charges.

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