Treasury Sanctions North Korean Officials and Companies from Transportation, Mining, Energy, and Financial Services Industries

On December 2, OFAC announced its decision to designate 16 entities and seven individuals in response to North Korea’s ongoing nuclear weapons development and violations of U.N. security council resolutions. The designations include a number of North Korean banks and other entities in the financial services sector of the North Korean economy. As a result of today’s action, any property or interests in property of the designated persons in the possession or control of U.S. persons or within the United States must be blocked. Additionally, U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions involving the designated persons and listed aircraft. The additions to the Specially Designated Nationals List were made pursuant to Executive Orders 13382, 13687, and 13722, which target proliferators of weapons of mass destruction, the Government of North Korea, and a number of North Korean trade and industry sectors, including transportation, coal and energy, and financial services.

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FSB Releases Updated Lists of Global Systemically Important Banks and Insurers

On November 21, the Financial Stability Board, in consultation with the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision and national authorities, released its updated 2016 list of G-SIBs and 2016 list of G-SIIs. Each of the new 2016 lists comprise the same banks/insurers as those on their respective 2015 list. The Basel Committee also released the following additional information related to its 2016 G-SIB assessment: (i) a list of all the banks in the assessment sample;  (ii) the denominators of each indicator used to calculate the banks’ scores; (iii) the cutoff score that was used to identify the G-SIBs in the updated list; (iv) the thresholds used to allocate G-SIBs to buckets for the purpose of calculating the specific higher loss absorbency requirements; and (v) links to disclosures of all banks in the assessment sample.

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Israel-Based Pharmaceutical Company Sets Aside $520 Million for Potential FCPA Settlement

An Israel-based pharmaceutical  company, stated in its Form 6-K filed with the SEC on November 15, 2016, that it has set aside approximately $520 million for a potential settlement of FCPA matters being investigated by the SEC and DOJ. The company explained that the reserve relates to conduct that occurred between 2007 and 2013 in Russia, Mexico, and the Ukraine, and that it was discovered in the course of the investigation that began in early 2012 with the issuance of an SEC subpoena to the company, as well as a concurrent internal investigation of its worldwide business practices.

Should the pharmaceutical company enter into a settlement, it will top the growing list of pharmaceutical companies that have been subject to multimillion dollar penalties for conduct in violation of the FCPA, including the following:

  • A $5.5 million settlement in 2016 of allegations relating to bribery of Chinese and Russian doctors;
  • A $20 million settlement in 2016 of allegations relating to bribery of Chinese health care professionals;
  • A $25 million settlement in 2016 of allegations relating to bribery of Chinese doctors;
  • A $14 million settlement in 2015 of allegations relating to bribery of healthcare professionals at state-owned hospitals in China;
  • A$29 million settlement in 2012 of allegations relating to bribery of government employed physicians in Russia, Brazil, China and Poland; and
  • A $70 million settlement in 2011 of allegations relating to conspiracy and bribery of doctors employed by state-controlled health care systems in Greece.
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Major Global Financial Company Pays $264 Million to Settle FCPA Investigation of its Referral Hiring Practices in China

A major global financial company (“Company”) and a Hong Kong subsidiary (“Subsidiary”) agreed on November 17, 2016, to pay approximately $264 million to the DOJ, SEC, and the Federal Reserve, putting an end to a nearly three year, multi-agency investigation of the Subsidiary’s “Sons and Daughters” referral program through which the children of influential Chinese officials and executive decisions makers were allegedly given prestigious and lucrative jobs as a quid pro quo to retain and obtain business in Asia. The conduct occurred over a seven year period, included the hiring of approximately 100 interns and full-time employees at the request and referral of Chinese government officials, and resulted in more than $100 million in revenues to the Company and approximately $35 million in profit to the Subsidiary.

The Subsidiary entered into a non-prosecution agreement and agreed to pay a $72 million criminal penalty, as well as to continue cooperating with the ongoing investigation and/or prosecution of individuals involved in the conduct. Additionally, the Subsidiary agreed to enhance its compliance programs and report to DOJ on the implementation of those programs. DOJ asserts in its press release that the Subsidiary admitted that, beginning in 2006, senior Hong Kong-based investment bankers set up the referral program as a means to influence the decisions of Chinese officials to award business to the Subsidiary, going so far as to link and prioritize potential hires to upcoming business opportunities, as well as to create positions for unqualified candidates where no appropriate position existed. The Subsidiary also admitted that its bankers and compliance personnel worked together to paper over these arrangements and hide the true purpose of the hire.

DOJ acknowledged that while the Subsidiary did not voluntarily or timely disclose its conduct, in determining an appropriate resolution DOJ considered a number of actions taken by the Company, including the commencement of a thorough internal investigation, the navigation of foreign data privacy law to produce documents from foreign countries, and the provision of access to foreign-based employees for interviews in the US. Additionally, DOJ considered the employment actions taken by the Subsidiary, which resulted in the departure of 6 employees and the discipline of 23 employees.

In connection with the same conduct, the Company also settled allegations with the SEC and the Federal Reserve. In a cease and desist order filed today, the SEC found that the Company violated the anti-bribery, books and records, and internal controls provisions of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The SEC considered the Company’s remedial actions and cooperation with the ongoing investigation, ordering the Company to pay over $105 million in disgorgement and $25 million in interest. Finally, in a consent cease and desist order filed today, the Federal Reserve Board imposed an approximately $62 million civil monetary penalty on the Company for operating an improper referral hiring program and failing to maintain adequate enterprise-wide controls to ensure candidates were vetted and hired appropriately and in accordance with anti-bribery laws and company policies. This order, among other things, requires the Company to enhance its oversight and controls of referral hiring practices and anti-bribery policies, as well as to continue cooperating with the ongoing investigation.

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Former Oil Company Employee Admits to Paying Bribe for Libyan Government Contract

As a follow up to its March 2016 reporting involving a Monaco oil company’s bribery scandal, the Huffington Post recently published an interview with a former employee of the Monaco-based company who has admitted to paying bribes to a manager in Libya’s state-owned oil company in order to win a government contract. The individual, a former manager at the Monaco-based company, told the Huffington Post and the Australian newspaper, The Age,that in the summer of 2009 he was summoned to a meeting with a production manager from a subsidiary company of the Libyan National Oil Company. At the meeting, the Libyan company’s production manager provided the individual with details relating to an upcoming bid for a $45 million Libyan government contract. Huffington Post reports that the individual contacted the father and two sons who ran the Monaco-based oil company. That afternoon, another manager from the Monaco-based company met with the individual at a company staffhouse, to deliver an envelope full of cash, which the individual delivered to the manager of the Libyan subsidiary company. A few days later, the individual who had delivered the cash resigned. It is unclear whether the Monaco-based company ever won the contract though the manager told the individual that “he expected a 5-10 percent kickback ― about $2-4 million ― if the [Monaco-based company] won the contract.” According to the interview, the individual who resigned has recently been cooperating with U.S., U.K., Australian, and Canadian law enforcement authorities. The individual’s former employer has denied his allegations and denies paying bribes to foreign officials in order to win deals for its multinational clients. For further coverage of this story, visit FCPA Scorecard Blog.

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