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.
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 January 8, the United Kingdom’s Serious Fraud Office announced that a printing company specializing in official documents such as election ballots was ordered to pay penalties totaling £2.2 million following its 2014 conviction under the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906. The SFO’s announcement regarding the sentencing stated that its investigation began in 2010 and centered on £395,074 in corrupt payments made to foreign officials in Kenya and Mauritania. Two of the company’s former employees, also convicted in connection with the same investigation, were ordered to pay penalties totaling over £20,000.
On December 21, the FIFA Ethics Committee announced that it would ban its embattled President, Sepp Blatter, and Vice President, Michel Platini, from all football-related activities for eight years. The ban was imposed as a result of an investigation into a payment of $2 million from FIFA to Platini in 2011 that was authorized by Blatter. The Ethics Committee’s statement on their decision stated that the payment was made without a legal basis. Platini is currently the head of UEFA, the governing body of European football. News reports state that it was widely anticipated that Platini would be elected President of FIFA in the upcoming 2016 election, but he has now withdrawn his candidacy following the Ethics Committee’s decision. Click here to view prior InfoBytes coverage on FIFA.
On December 10, the DOJ announced three unsealed indictments of a total of 20 defendants in connection with various money laundering schemes. Fifteen of the defendants were arrested and taken into custody, while the remaining individuals are still being sought by authorities.
The first indictment alleges that the former president and CEO of an Orange County, California bank and five other individuals, as members of a narcotics trafficking and international money laundering organization, violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) by participating in schemes to launder drug proceeds. According to the DOJ, the former bank official used his position, insider knowledge, and connections to “promote and facilitate money laundering transactions involving members and associates of the enterprise.” The DOJ alleges that the six defendants (i) arranged to convert purported drug proceeds, in the form of cash provided by an undercover informant, into cashier’s checks made out to a company the informant claimed to own; (ii) proposed to an informant that the informant and his boss purchase a controlling interest in the Orange County bank to more easily facilitate money laundering operations; and (iii) proposed to set up a foundation in Liechtenstein to be used, in part, to launder the informant’s drug sale proceeds. Read more…