Last Friday, Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman delivered prepared remarks (here) at a Corporate Crime Reporter sponsored conference in Washington, D.C. The conference focused on DOJ and SEC resolution policies and procedures. While Raman’s remarks were broad in scope, a portion of her remarks focused on the FCPA, and in her first publicly released statements on the FCPA, Raman continued to employ much of the same FCPA rhetoric that defined Lanny Breuer’s tenure as Assistant Attorney General. (See here for an article summarizing Breuer’s many FCPA speeches).
Raman began her FCPA remarks by stating as follows. “Our stellar FCPA Unit continues to go gangbusters, bringing case after case.” [Note, Raman’s delivered remarks deviated from her prepared remarks as to this sentence].
The last three times the DOJ has been put to its ultimate burden of proof in FCPA cases, the end results were either acquittals or dismissals, including for prosecutorial misconduct.
In the Africa Sting cases, Judge Richard Leon stated as follows. “This appears to be the end of a long and sad chapter in the annals of white collar criminal enforcement. . . . I for one hope this very long, and I’m sure very expensive, ordeal will be a true learning experience for both the [DOJ] and the FBI as they regroup to investigate and prosecute FCPA cases against individuals in the future.”
In the John O’Shea case, Judge Lynn Hughes stated as follows: ‘‘The problem here is that the principal witness against Mr. O’Shea . . . knows almost nothing … [ ] The government should have been prepared before they brought the charges to the Grand Jury. . . . You shouldn’t indict people on stuff you can’t prove.’’
In the Lindsey Manufacturing case, Judge Howard Matz stated as follows. “The instances of misconduct were so varied and occurred over such a long time that they add up to an unusual and extreme picture of a prosecution gone badly awry.”
[For more on the above cases, see my article “What Percentage of DOJ FCPA Losses Is Acceptable?”]
As to the FCPA, Raman further stated as follows [the remainder of the post is from the DOJ’s release].
“Just in the last month, we announced charges against several key defendants in ongoing, active FCPA investigations, one case – with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan – involving an alleged bribery scheme to secure mining rights in the Republic of Guinea, and another – with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Connecticut – involving an alleged bribery scheme to secure power contracts in Indonesia.”
“In our FCPA prosecutions, too, we aggressively use all the tools available to us. As is evident in our many recent foreign bribery cases, individual targets all over the globe are being charged and arrested, and many companies across a variety of industries have entered into guilty pleas and exacting deferred prosecution agreements with the government. In reaching these dispositions, we can and do require companies to remediate their criminal practices – sometimes with the oversight of a corporate monitor. By demanding remediation as part of such a resolution, we can clean up the misdeeds at a corporation in a lasting way. Corporate leadership is often replaced. We frequently require businesses to implement and sustain rigorous internal controls and compliance programs. And the implementation of these sorts of internal controls by one company in a particular industry can often have a cascading, beneficial effect at other companies that follow suit. You need only look to the effects of our FCPA enforcement program on corporate compliance culture to see that this is true.”
“Additionally, it is important to note that no matter how we proceed in any particular case, we always put a premium on securing cooperation from corporate entities, because meaningful cooperation enables us to hold criminally accountable to the fullest extent possible the widest possible range of bad actors, from individuals responsible for the criminal conduct to other business entities. Simply put, a company’s cooperation – which can lead us to critical information about wrongdoing by executives and employees – can absolutely make the difference as we assess whether there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt sufficient to charge an individual. Moreover, the value of this cooperation is only enhanced when our investigations cross international borders, as they frequently do. We routinely face the reality that in many foreign jurisdictions there are legal roadblocks, including data privacy limits, to what U.S. law enforcement can obtain if it seeks to build a case; in those circumstances, the company’s cooperation can be the critical factor in our ability to hold individual wrongdoers to account.”
“Let me give you a recent example from the FCPA context. In March 2012, we announced that we had entered into a DPA with BizJet International Sales and Support Inc., an aircraft services company, and an NPA with its parent company, Lufthansa Technik AG. As part of the resolution, BizJet admitted to bribing Latin American officials in order to secure various services contracts. And, critically for our prosecutors, BizJet also agreed, together with Lufthansa, to cooperate in our ongoing investigation, continue implementing an enhanced compliance program and internal controls, and pay $11.8 million in criminal penalties. Our agreements with BizJet and Lufthansa laid the groundwork for us to bring felony charges against high-ranking corporate executives. Just last month, we announced charges against four former BizJet executives, including the former president and CEO, and the former sales manager. This example, among many others, proves that, no matter what form of criminal resolution we reach with a company, it decidedly does not mean immunity for its culpable employees – indeed, the opposite is true.”
Despite several individual enforcement actions in April, the fact remains that since 2008 approximately 75% of DOJ FCPA enforcement actions, have not (at least yet) resulted in any DOJ charges against company employees. (See here for the prior post with statistics through 2012).
Moreover, as indicated in this prior post, contrary to Raman’s remarks regarding the “form of criminal resolution,” since NPAs and DPAs were first introduced to the FCPA context in 2004, only 6.5% of corporate DOJ FCPA enforcement actions resolved solely with an NPA or DPA have resulted in related criminal charges of company employees. This compares to 83% of corporate DOJ enforcement actions that were the result of a criminal indictment or resulted in a guilty plea by the corporate entity resulting in related criminal charges of company employees.
I presented these numbers at the conference during a panel on NPAs and DPAs. Denis McInerney (DOJ, Deputy Assistant Attorney General) was on the panel and I stated that the ball was now in his court to explain this wide gap. He described two enforcement actions resolved via an NPA or DPA in which there were indeed related individual prosecutions, but otherwise said that he did not know where these numbers are coming from.
The numbers are described in this prior post. It was really quite easy calculating the numbers. One simply takes all DOJ corporate enforcement actions since 2004 and then looks to see if there have been related individual actions against company employees.
During the panel, McInerney made an important acknowledgment. After I discussed Gabrial Markoff’s excellent article “Arthur Anderson and the Myth of the Corporate Death Penalty” (see here for the prior post), McInerney agreed that there is a very small chance that a company would be put out of business as a result of actual DOJ criminal charges. This was a notable acknowledgment in that the so-called “Arthur Anderson” effect has always been a central justification for the DOJ’s frequent use of NPAs and DPAs. For instance, see this prior post regarding Lanny Breuer’s September 2012 NPA / DPA speech. As fellow panelist Professor David Uhlmann (a frequent critic as well on DOJ’s use of NPAs and DPAs – see here) stated, the DOJ’s policy on NPAs and DPAs is a “policy is search of a rationale.”
In other DOJ news, last Friday the DOJ announced (here) that Paul Novak (a former consultant for Willbros International who previously pleaded guilty – see here for the prior post) was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Simeon Lake (S.D.Tex.) to 15 months in prison and two years of supervised release.
Of perhaps greater note, Novak was ordered to pay a $1 million fine. This is among the top individual FCPA criminal fines in history.
The DOJ’s release states that in sentencing Novak, “the court took into consideration the assistance Novak provided the government in ongoing investigations.” Novak’s sentencing documents are under seal and not publicly available.
In May 2008, Willbros resolved parallel DOJ (here) and SEC (here) FCPA enforcement actions and agreed to pay approximately $32 million in combined fines and penalties.