Monaco-Based Company Alleges Extortion Following Media Reports of Mass Bribery

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…

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POSTED IN: International, Miscellany

Swiss Extradite Final FIFA Official Arrested in May 2015 Sweep

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.

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DOJ Sentences Founder of Money Laundering Operation to 20 Years Imprisonment

On May 6, the DOJ announced that U.S. District Judge Denise L. Cote sentenced the founder of a Costa Rica-based virtual currency company to 20 years imprisonment and ordered him to pay a $500,000 fine for charges related to illegal money laundering. According to the DOJ, the individual owner, at all relevant times, directed and supervised the company’s operations and was aware that cybercriminals, such as credit card traffickers and identity thieves, were using the “digital currency empire” to launder the proceeds of illegal activity. The DOJ further asserts that the company “grew into a financial hub for cybercriminals around the world, trafficking the criminal proceeds of Ponzi schemes, credit card trafficking, stolen identity information and computer hacking.” When the government shut the company down in May 2013, it had more than 5.5 million user accounts worldwide and more than 78 million financial transactions processed, valued at more than $8 billion. Prior to the sentencing hearing, the owner pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to commit money laundering; four other co-defendants also pleaded guilty, with two individuals being sentenced to five and three years in prison and two others awaiting sentencing.

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Deputy Attorney General Yates Expands on Individual Accountability Policy

On May 10, Deputy U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates spoke at the New York City Bar Association’s White Collar Crime Conference and expanded on the DOJ’s Individual Accountability Policy, which informally bears Yates’ name (the Yates Memo). The DOJ issued the Yates Memo in September 2015, and Yates’ remarks were focused on why the DOJ issued the policy and how it has been working in practice. Yates made clear that “holding individuals accountable for corporate wrongdoing has always been a priority for” the DOJ, but that the policy memorandum was necessary to overcome “real world challenges” that the DOJ encounters (e.g., convoluted corporate structures and lines of authority, data privacy laws, and inability to compel foreign witness testimony) so that it can hold individuals responsible for corporate wrongdoing. Read more…

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POSTED IN: Criminal Enforcement, Federal Issues

DOJ Proposes Legislation Intended to Advance Anti-Corruption Efforts

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.

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