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Judicial Bribery

As highlighted in this article:

“A Venezuelan Supreme Court justice and former president of that court [Maikel Jose Moreno Perez] has been indicted in Florida on charges he accepted bribes totaling around $10 million in exchange for leniency or case dismissals, spending the money on luxury homes and vacations abroad.”

According to the indictment, the bribes were intended to influence the justice to resolve cases in a manner favorable to Venezuelan contractors who owned companies that received funds from Venezuelan government-controlled entities. Certain of the bribe payments were used to purchase real estate in the U.S. and/or passed through U.S. bank accounts.

Although certain FCPA enforcement actions have involved judicial officers as “foreign officials” in a prosecution of the bribe payor, the enforcement action against Moreno concerns money laundering offenses.

Reasons for the “Stern Warnings”

In late 2017 Keppel Offshore & Marine resolved an FCPA enforcement action concerning conduct in Brazil. (See here for the prior post). The enforcement action against Keppel was believed to be the first FCPA enforcement action ever against a company based in Singapore. In resolving the net $105.5 million FCPA enforcement action, Keppel agreed to a deferred prosecution agreement.

As highlighted in this prior post, Jeffrey Chow (a U.S. citizen and Tulane educated lawyer who had various positions in the legal department of KOM) was also criminally charged in connection with the Keppel Offshore & Marine Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action.

Thereafter, in connection with both the Keppel enforcement action (and a related enforcement action against TechnipFMC) the DOJ also criminally charged Zwi Skornicki (a citizen of Brazil) with conspiracy to violate the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions. According to the DOJ, Skornicki and others “knowingly and willfully conspired to pay, and paid, approximately $55 million in bribes in connection with at least 13 projects in Brazil tendered by Petrobras and, later, a company that employed several former Petrobras officials.”

As discussed in this recent post, Singapore’s Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (“CPIB”) – in consultation with the Attorney-General’s Chambers (“AGC”) “issued stern warnings … to six individuals who were formerly senior management staff of Keppel Offshore & Marine Limited (“KOM”) … “in lieu of prosecution for offences punishable under the Prevention of Corruption Act (“PCA”).”

This article highlights reasons given by a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office for the stern warnings (instead of actual criminal charges) including why the Singapore authorities were unable to gather enough evidence, despite some witnesses’ confession overseas, and why it would not be prudent for public prosecutors to file charges when they had not enough evidence.


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