FIFA Investigation Ensnares President Blatter

After months of speculation about potential legal ramifications for FIFA President Joseph (“Sepp”) Blatter, the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland announced that Mr. Blatter is the subject of criminal proceedings in that country. The allegations include criminal mismanagement related to a contract with the Caribbean Football Union that was purportedly against the interests of FIFA, as well as misappropriation related to a payment to the President of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). The Office of the Attorney General also reported that Mr. Blatter was interrogated and his offices were searched.

Previous FCPA Scorecard coverage of this investigation can be found here.


Owner of Mortgage Company Sentenced to Serve More Than 11 Years for Role in $64 Million Mortgage Fraud Operation

On September 24, the DOJ released a statement regarding the sentencing of the owner of a Florida mortgage company for allegedly organizing a mortgage fraud scheme. In July 2015, the owner, along with his business partner and a senior underwriter for the mortgage company, pleaded guilty to the mortgage fraud scheme that resulted in $64 million in losses to the FHA. The August 2014 indictment stated that the three individuals edited borrowers’ loan applications, altering important information so that they appeared to be qualified for FHA loans when, in fact, they were not. As a result of the September sentencing, the owner of the company will pay more than $64 million in restitution and forfeit $8 million in illegal profits. The owner’s business partner was sentenced to serve 41 months in prison; in addition, he will pay more than $7 million in restitution and forfeit $400,000 in illegal profits. The company’s underwriter will pay more than $24 million in restitution and serve 51 months in prison. A total of 24 defendants were charged in the case, which was jointly investigated by the HUD-OIG and the DOJ.


U.S. Attorney General Discusses DOJ’s Global Cybercrime Initiatives at Europol

On September 16, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch addressed the European Cybercrime Center at Europol, where she highlighted recent and planned DOJ initiatives related to global cybercrime and cyber threat efforts and stressed the DOJ’s commitment to information-sharing with international law enforcement authorities. Lynch noted that the U.S. and the European Union recently signed an “Umbrella” Data Privacy and Protection Agreement aimed at strengthening the countries’ ability to take on crime and terrorism while protecting personal privacy. In addition, Lynch revealed that the DOJ intends to temporarily assign a U.S. attorney from the DOJ’s Criminal Division to work alongside European authorities to enhance collaboration and information-sharing.


Imaging Company Offers $1.6 Million to Settle FCPA Investigation

Analogic Corp., a manufacturer of airport security equipment, offered the SEC $1.6 million to settle the agency’s FCPA investigation of the company, according to a company press release. The company previously reported that the DOJ and SEC had “substantially” completed their investigations of potential bribery involving transactions by the company’s Danish subsidiary, BK Medical ApS. The transactions at issue involved distributors paying BK Medical more than was owed, and then BK Medical transferring the excess money to third parties identified by the distributors. At the time of its 2011 disclosure of the potentially problematic transactions, the company stated that it had not ascertained the ultimate beneficiaries or purpose of the transfers. According to the company it had not yet engaged in similar settlement discussions with the DOJ or Danish government.


FIFA Investigation Expands In Scope; Former FIFA VP Extradited to United States

On September 14, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced that the DOJ is expanding its FIFA investigation to pursue additional charges against individuals and companies. AG Lynch made these comments at a press conference in Zurich with Switzerland’s Attorney General, Michael Lauber. The DOJ has been working closely with Swiss officials in its investigation, and has charged 14 FIFA officials with racketeering, wire fraud, and money laundering.

Additionally, on September 17, the Swiss Federal Office of Justice approved the extradition of Eugenio Figueredo, a former vice president of the South American Football Confederation and former vice president of FIFA, to the United States. Figueredo was one of seven defendants fighting extradition from Switzerland. In July, Jeffrey Webb, a former vice president of FIFA, agreed to be extradited to the United States, but the remaining five defendants are awaiting decisions on extradition.

Previous BuckleySandler coverage of this investigation can be found here.


DOJ Unveils New Policy on Individual Liability in White-Collar Prosecutions

On September 9, the Department of Justice (DOJ), issued a policy memorandum concerning DOJ’s goal of holding individuals accountable for corporate fraud or other misconduct.  While some of the guidelines set forth in the memorandum are statements of practices already being followed by DOJ, or by specific U.S. Attorney’s Offices, some of the measures are new and reflect an enhanced  focus on DOJ’s goal of holding individuals criminally or civilly liable for corporate wrongdoing. The memo sets forth “six key steps” to accomplish this goal and further DOJ’s underlying policies of deterring future illegal activity, incentivizing change in corporate behavior, holding proper parties responsible for their actions, and promoting public confidence in the justice system. Read more…


Two Additional Former PetroTiger Employees Sentenced Following FCPA Conspiracy Guilty Pleas

On September 10, Gregory Weisman, former general counsel of oil and gas services company PetroTiger, and  Knut Hammarskjold, PetroTiger’s co-founder, were each sentenced to two years’ probation stemming from their prior guilty pleas to conspiring to violate the FCPA and commit wire fraud in connection with a bribe paid to an employee of Colombia’s state-run oil company in order to win a $45 million oil-services contract.

Both Mr. Weisman and Hammarskjold were ordered to pay restitution as well as fines of $30,000 and $15,000, respectively. Mr. Weisman’s and Mr. Hammarskjold’s sentencing occurred almost three months after the third PetroTiger co-conspirator, former CEO Joseph Sigelman, received a three-year probation sentence in connection with the same bribes.  Mr. Weisman had been the key witness against Mr. Sigelman at Mr. Sigelman’s June 2015 trial, but the trial abruptly ended after Mr. Sigelman entered a plea deal.  The DOJ announced the plea after Mr. Weisman informed the court that he gave false testimony regarding the terms of his cooperation agreement.  At Mr. Weisman’s sentencing, the District Judge referred to the abrupt turn of events at Mr. Sigelman’s trial as “the elephant in the room” but noted that misstatements by Mr. Weisman were “peripheral” to the charged offenses.


Russian Nuclear Official Pleads Guilty in FCPA-Related Case

On August 31, the DOJ announced that Vadim Mikerin, the former president of TENAM Corporation and a director of the Pan American Department of JSC Techsnabexport (TENEX), pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering in connection with arranging over $2 million in bribes for contracts with the Russian state-owned nuclear energy corporation. TENEX, a subsidiary of Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation, is based in Moscow and acts as the sole supplier and exporter of Russian Federation uranium and uranium enrichment services to nuclear power companies worldwide. Mr. Mikerin admitted to conspiring to transfer funds from the United States to offshore accounts with the intent to perpetuate a bribery scheme in violation of the FCPA. These bribes were made to influence the award of contracts to transport down-blended uranium to US nuclear utility providers. As part of Mr. Mikerin’s plea agreement, he agreed to forfeit over $2.1 million he received in bribes. Mr. Mikerin is expected to be sentenced in December, and faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

In addition to Mr. Mikerin, two other individuals, Darren Condrey and Boris Rubizhevsky, have pleaded guilty for their respective involvement in the scheme, including conspiracy to violate the FCPA and commit wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering, respectively.


Former Ohio Deputy Treasurer Extradited to Serve 15 Years in Prison for Role in Bribery and Money Laundering Scheme

On August 26, a former deputy treasurer of Ohio was extradited from Pakistan to serve a 15-year prison term in the U.S. for his involvement in a bribery and money laundering scheme spanning from January 2009 through January 2011. According to his 2013 guilty plea, the former deputy treasurer misused his position as a state official to direct official state of Ohio business to a securities broker in return for bribes. With the assistance of a Chicago businessman, the deputy treasurer concealed the broker’s payments by funneling them through (i) accounts connected to a landscaping business; and (ii) an attorney and lobbyist who was both a friend and business partner. The broker, who paid more than $500,000 in bribes, collected roughly $3.2 million in commissions as a result of 360 securities trades on behalf of the Office of the Ohio Treasurer.

Sentenced in abstentia on December 1, 2014 by a Ohio federal judge, the former state official was also ordered to forfeit $3.2 million in illegal profits. The securities broker, lobbyist, and the Chicago businessman were each sentenced in late 2014 to serve 45 months, 48 months, and 18 months in prison, respectively, for their roles in the scheme.


DOJ and SEC Announce Parallel Action Against Former Investment Banking Analyst and Two Individuals for Alleged Involvement in Insider Trading Scheme

On August 25, the DOJ unsealed an indictment charging three defendants each with (i) one count of conspiracy to commit securities and tender offer fraud; (ii) 13 counts of securities fraud; (iii) 13 counts of tender offer fraud; and (iv) three counts of wire fraud. In a parallel action, the SEC filed a complaint in the Central District of California against the same three individuals, asserting that the three individuals violated certain provisions of the Securities Exchange Act by participating in a scheme that involved “coordinated, illegal trading in stock and stock options of two separate companies that participated in merger activity” in which the same investment bank played an advisory role. According to the SEC, having learned of impending acquisitions involving two of the investment bank’s clients and other companies, one of the investment bank’s former analysts allegedly provided information regarding the transaction to a friend before any public announcements were made. The friend then communicated the information to a third individual, and the two made a series of trades in the two companies’ securities. When the acquisitions were publicly announced, both companies’ stock prices increased, resulting in profits of more than $670,000 for the two individuals on the receiving end of the former analyst’s inside information. The SEC’s complaint seeks a final judgment ordering the three defendants “to pay disgorgement of their ill-gotten gains plus prejudgment interest and penalties, and permanent injunctions from future violations of [certain] provisions of the federal securities laws.”


Large Multinational Financial Services Company Settles FCPA Charges Relating to Internships

On August 18, the SEC announced a settlement with a large multinational financial services company over allegations that the company had violated the FCPA by giving internships to family members of government officials working at a Middle Eastern sovereign wealth fund in hopes of retaining or gaining more business from that fund. The order entered as part of the settlement quoted emails between company employees purportedly demonstrating that the company gave the internships in hopes of keeping and growing the business relationship with the fund. The SEC also alleged that the company gave the internships to the family members without requiring that they pass through the competitive screening process the company typically requires for interns. Finally, the SEC alleged that the company had inadequate controls to prevent the improper hiring of relatives of government officials. The company paid $14.8 million to settle the charges, with $8.3 million in disgorgement, $1.5 million in pre-judgment interest, and a $5 million penalty.

The company previously disclosed in January 2015 that it had received a Wells Notice concerning possible FCPA violations in connection with the internships. The settlement follows earlier press reports of a broad SEC investigation into bank hiring practices in Asia, and appears to be the first settlement resulting from the investigation.


Former SAP Executive Pleads Guilty to Paying “Necessary” Bribes

On August 12, the DOJ and SEC announced joint enforcement actions against software giant SAP International’s former head of Latin American sales, Vicente Garcia. Garcia pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the FCPA and will be sentenced on December 16, 2015 in the Northern District of California. The DOJ alleges that SAP paid bribes to Panamanian officials to secure software license sales in late 2009, using sham contracts and fake invoices. Garcia “admitted that he believed paying such bribes was necessary” to secure the contracts.

The SEC simultaneously issued an administrative cease and desist order against Garcia describing a scheme by which Garcia, in violation of SAP’s internal controls, gave discounts to a local business partner to generate excess earnings, which were used to create the slush fund used to pay at least $145,000 in bribes to secure approximately $3.7 million in sales. Garcia and others also arranged to receive kickbacks from the sales. Garcia agreed to pay disgorgement of the kickbacks he received plus prejudgment interest, totaling $92,395.


Orthofix Deferred Prosecution Agreement Extended for Two Months

In a recently-filed status report, the DOJ and medical device manufacturer Orthofix revealed that the company’s Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) will be extended by two months. The DPA was due to expire on July 17, 2015, but the status report states that Orthofix agreed to the extension in June to give DOJ “additional time to (1) evaluate Orthofix’s compliance with the internal controls and compliance undertakings in the DPA and (2) further investigate potentially improper conduct the company disclosed during the term of the DPA.” The report continued that DOJ intended to complete its investigation in August and inform Orthofix “of its proposed course of action shortly thereafter.”

Orthofix entered into the DPA on July 10, 2012 to resolve allegations that a Mexico-based subsidiary paid bribes to employees of Mexico’s government-operated health system (see prior FCPA scorecard coverage).

Earlier this year, another medical device manufacturer, Biomet, announced that its DPA would be extended for one year after it disclosed additional potential FCPA violations to the DOJ and SEC.


SEC Sues 32 Defendants Involved in Insider Trading Operation; DOJ Files Criminal Charges Against Leaders

On August 10, the SEC filed a complaint against 32 defendants in the District of New Jersey for their alleged involvement in an international scheme to profit from stolen, confidential information regarding corporate earnings announcements. According to the SEC, the defendants hacked at least two newswire services’ computer servers to retrieve unpublished corporate press releases, subsequently using it to make trades generating over $100 million in profits. The SEC further asserted that the two leaders of the scheme designed a “secret web-based location to transmit the stolen data to traders in Russia, the Ukraine, Malta, Cyprus, France, and three U.S. states, Georgia, New York, and Pennsylvania.” The SEC contends that, for five years, the two leaders of the scheme (i) disguised their identity by posing as newswire service employees, using proxy servers, and/or using backdoor access-modules; and (ii) recruited traders by making a video that displayed their ability to steal earnings information prior to public release. In return for information, the traders paid the hackers either a percentage of the profits obtained from trading the stolen information, or a flat fee. The SEC Director called the scheme “one of the most intricate and sophisticated trading rings [the agency has] ever seen.” The U.S. Attorneys’ offices for New Jersey and the Eastern District of New York also announced criminal charges against nine of the same defendants, including the two leaders of the scheme.


Vantage Drilling Self-Reports Potential FCPA Violation

On August 4, Vantage Drilling Company, an international offshore drilling contractor, acknowledged that an overseas agent had entered into plea discussions with Brazilian authorities and provided evidence in the ongoing corruption investigation focused on Petrobras. Vantage acknowledged that the agent had purportedly provided evidence related to a former director of Vantage and Petrobras. The company disclosed that it had opened an internal investigation and self-reported the matter to the DOJ and the SEC.

The Brazilian corruption investigations into Petrobras and its affiliates and counterparties continue to expand with no end in sight, and the expected related U.S. investigations are beginning to be disclosed.