On January 12, Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) announced a $17,500 settlement agreement with Aban Offshoe Limited (“Aban”) of Chennai, India, in connection with an alleged violation of Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations. The alleged violation arises out of events that occurred in June 2008, when Aban’s Singapore subsidiary allegedly placed an order for oil rig supplies from a vendor in the United States with the intended purpose of re-exporting these supplies from the United Arab Emirates to a jack-up oil drilling rig located in the South Pars Gas Fields in Iranian territorial waters. OFAC noted, among other things, that the alleged violation constitutes a non-egregious case, but that Aban did not voluntarily self-disclose the apparent violation.
Commission announced the release of its Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on Privacy and Electronic Communications (Proposed Regulation), which is set to repeal Directive 2002/58/EC (ePrivacy Directive). The Proposed Regulation— as discussed previously on InfoBytes—is intended to update the current rules to keep up with technical developments and adapting them to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Among other things, the Proposed Regulation will expand the scope of the ePrivacy rules to include internet-based voice and internet-messaging services, and to cover the content of communications, including metadata such as the time and location of a call. Furthermore, with regards to cookies, the Proposed Regulation does not require the consent of the user for non-privacy intrusive cookies, which either improve internet experience or measure the number of visitors to a specific website. The proposed Regulation also includes an opt-in requirement for telemarketing calls, unless national laws provide the recipient with a right to object. The Proposed Regulation also contains language extending the remedies currently provided under the GDPR.
Once passed, the Proposed Regulation would become effective on May 25, 2018. Links to other related documents and information may be accessed through the following links:
On December 28, FINRA entered into an acceptance, waiver, and consent (AWC) agreement with a Puerto-Rican-based brokerage firm based upon allegations that the firm’s anti-money laundering (AML) program “was not reasonably designed to achieve and monitor compliance with the requirements of the Bank Secrecy Act.” In deciding to levy a $5.75 million fine, FINRA noted, among other things, that the firm improperly “relied on manual supervisory review of securities transactions” that was “not sufficiently focused on AML risks.” The firm neither admitted nor denied the findings set forth in the AWC agreement, but agreed to address deficiencies in their AML program within 180 days. According to a firm spokeswoman, the firm is “pleased to have this matter from 2013 resolved and we continue to improve, manage and monitor our AML efforts.”
On January 10, it was announced that two additional defendants, owners of Florida and Texas-based energy companies, had pleaded guilty to foreign bribery charges related to a scheme to corruptly secure energy contracts from Venezuela’s state-owned oil company.
According to admissions contained here and here, they conspired with other previously charged defendants from 2008 through 2012 to pay bribes and other things of value, including recreational travel, meals, and entertainment to the company’s officials to obtain energy contracts or receive payment for previously awarded contracts. Some of the bribes were paid to the company’s official’s relative to conceal the nature, source, and ownership of the bribe.
In total, eight individuals have now pleaded guilty in cases related to the government’s investigation into bribery at the company. The government’s investigation is ongoing. Previous FCPA Scorecard coverage on the company’s investigations can be found here.
On January 10, the DOJ announced the unsealing of an indictment charging four individuals, including the nephew and brother of former UN Secretary-General with violations of the FCPA and other offenses in connection with the attempted $800 million sale of a commercial building known as Landmark 72 in Hanoi, Vietnam. According to the government, the brother and nephew conspired to bribe a governmental official of an unnamed Middle Eastern country to get his country to purchase the building from a Korea-based company, where the brother was then a senior executive. To facilitate the sale of Landmark 72, the Korea-based company hired the nephew to secure an investor for the deal.
According to the allegations, the brother and nephew agreed to pay the foreign official $500,000 initially, and $2 million upon completion of the sale, through the co-defendant, who had falsely held himself out as an agent of the foreign official; the fourth individual allegedly assisted in obtaining the initial $500,000. In a twist, according to the DOJ, the co-defendant then stole the money and used it for personal expenses instead of paying any bribes. After the Landmark 72 deal failed to go through, the nephew allegedly lied and provided forged emails from the foreign official and other documents to the Korea-based company regarding the status of the deal and stole approximately $225,000 that was advanced by the Korea-based company to cover brokerage expenses.