On May 16, a Monaco-based industrial solutions company released a statement denying claims made in a media report that linked the company to allegations of bribing foreign government officials to secure contracts within the oil and gas industry. The company stated it has “been the victim of a four-month extortion attempt by criminals,” and that it is currently engaged with UK authorities. Read more…
On May 17, OFAC amended the Burmese Sanctions Regulations, 31 C.F.R. part 537 by adding a general license to authorize most transactions related to U.S. persons residing in Burma that are otherwise prohibited by the Regulations, including paying rent and purchasing goods and services for personal use. In addition, the amendments add general licenses to (i) extend indefinitely General License 20, which authorizes transactions “ordinarily incident to exports to or from Burma that are otherwise prohibited involving an individual or company that is designated or otherwise blocked by OFAC’s sanctions”; and (ii) support trade-related transactions by permitting certain transactions incident to the movement of goods within Burma. OFAC also updated an existing general license to authorize most banking services involving Innwa Bank and Myawaddy Bank (two currently designated financial institutions in Burma) and terminated sanctions on Myanma Economic Bank, Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank, and Myanma Investment and Commercial Bank, which, taken together, authorizes “most transactions involving all Burmese financial institutions.”
On May 18, former President of the Nicaraguan Football Federal Julio Rocha was extradited from Switzerland to the United States. He was the final FIFA official to be extradited following the arrests made in Zurich in May 2015, according to the Swiss Federal Office of Justice, which has handled the extradition proceedings over the past year. Mr. Rocha was indicted by the DOJ in May 2015 along with 13 other FIFA officials.
On May 11, following a five-week trial in a London court, a former manager of an Australia-based banknote manufacturer was convicted of four counts of making corrupt payments to a foreign official in violation of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906. Peter Chapman, the former manager of the polymer banknote manufacturer’s Africa office, was acquitted on two other counts. Chapman was convicted of bribing an agent of Nigerian Security Printing and Mining PLC in order to secure contracts for the purchase of reams of polymer substrate from the banknote manufacturer. The total amount of bribes to the agent equaled approximately $205,000. On May 12, Chapman was sentenced to two and a half years (30 months on each convicted count, to be served concurrently).
The UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) prosecuted the case following a joint investigation by the SFO and the Australian Federal Police, which initiated the investigation in May 2009.
On May 5, the DOJ announced that it plans to submit to Congress proposals for legislative amendments that would provide the DOJ with additional tools to advance anti-corruption work in the areas of pursuing illegal proceeds of transnational corruption and modifying the substance of criminal corruption offenses. The DOJ’s proposals regarding the illegal proceeds of transnational corruption would amend various sections of the U.S.C. to (i) expand foreign money laundering predicate crimes to include any violation of foreign law that, if committed in the U.S., would be a money laundering predicate; (ii) allow administrative subpoenas for money laundering investigations; (iii) enhance law enforcement’s ability to obtain overseas records by allowing access to foreign bank or business records by serving subpoenas on foreign bank branches located in the United States regardless of bank secrecy or data privacy laws in the foreign jurisdictions; (iv) create a framework to use and protect classified information in civil kleptocracy-related cases; and (v) extend the time period in which the United States can restrain property based on a request from a foreign country from 30 to 90 days. The proposals pertaining to substantive corruption offenses would amend 18 U.S.C. § 666 (theft or bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds) to (i) expressly criminalize the corrupt offer or acceptance of payments to “reward” official action; and (ii) lower the dollar threshold for liability from $5,000 to $1,000 to address cases where the dollar amount may be low but threat to the integrity of a government function is high.