On September 29, 2016, the DOJ issued two declination letters concerning suspected FCPA violations, closing their investigations of two Texas-based corporations. The DOJ claims that its investigation of one of the corporations found that the company’s employees paid approximately $500,000 in bribes to Venezuela and China government officials in order to influence those officials’ purchasing decisions and thereby secure approximately $2.7 million in profits. With respect to its investigation of the second corporation, DOJ claims that the company’s China subsidiary provided approximately $45,000 worth of benefits to China government officials to obtain sales which generated profits of approximately $335,000. In connection with the issuance of the declination letters, the companies agreed to the disgorgement of their profits from the sales associated with their purportedly illegal conduct. Read more…
On October 20, the DOJ announced that a former president of a soccer event management company pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy charges. His guilty plea came in response to allegations that, as the company’s former president, he negotiated and made bribe payments totaling more than $14 million on behalf of the company to a high ranking soccer official in exchange for media and marketing rights to international soccer tournaments and matches. As part of the plea, the company’s former president agreed to forfeit approximately half a million dollars and could be sentenced to a maximum of 20 years for each count.
The guilty plea came as part of the U.S. government’s investigation into corruption in international soccer. It follows guilty pleas from the soccer event management company itself, its international parent company, and the parent company’s owner, in connection with related charges brought by the DOJ.
Previous FCPA Scorecard coverage of the FIFA investigation can be found here.
On September 21, 2016, the SEC reached a $766,000 settlement with a personal care and dietary supplement company over charges that it violated the internal controls and books and records provisions of the FCPA. The SEC alleged that the company’s China subsidiary made a $150,000 payment to a charity chosen by a Chinese Communist party official in order to obtain that official’s assistance in terminating an on-going provisional agency investigation into the company’s compliance with local rules for direct selling. Read more…
On September 30, 2016, the SEC reached a $20 million settlement with a British pharmaceutical company arising from the company’s business in China. The SEC alleged that between 2010 and 2013, sales and marketing managers of the company’s China subsidiary made corrupt payments to medical professionals to encourage more prescriptions for the company’s products. The purported corrupt payments included gifts, travel, entertainment, shopping, and cash but were recorded in the company’s books and records as legitimate marketing expenses, speaker fees, medical association payments, and travel and entertainment expenses. Because the medical professionals worked in government-owned hospitals, the SEC considered them to be foreign government officials under the FCPA, and charged the company with violations of the internal controls and recordkeeping provisions of the FCPA.
The $20 million dollar settlement with the SEC follows an almost $490 million sanction ordered in 2014 by a Chinese Court against the company’s Chinese subsidiary based on the same alleged bribery scheme. Five of the company’s managers were also convicted in that action in China and its former country manager was deported. FCPA Scorecard coverage of the Chinese Court order can be found here.
On September 29, a New York-based publicly-traded hedge fund agreed to pay approximately $412 million to the DOJ and SEC to resolve related criminal and civil charges of violating the FCPA in connection with the bribery of high-level government officials across Africa. This is the fourth-largest FCPA enforcement settlement of all time, and the first time a hedge fund has been held accountable for violating the FCPA. In the criminal case, the hedge fund entered into a three-year deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) to resolve charges of conspiracy to violate the FCPA, falsification of books and records, and failure to implement adequate internal controls. The hedge fund agreed to pay a criminal penalty of approximately $213 million, and to retain a compliance monitor for three years. The DPA’s Statement of Facts describes bribes paid to government officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Congo) and Libya to help the hedge fund obtain special access and preferential prices for investment opportunities in government controlled-mining sectors in Congo, and secure an investment from the Libyan Investment Authority, Libya’s sovereign wealth fund. In parallel proceedings, the hedge fund agreed to pay $199 million to the SEC and entered into an Administrative Order Instituting Cease-and-Desist Proceedings to settle the FCPA civil charges. The SEC’s allegations covered Libya, Chad, Niger, and the Congo, and alleged that the fund used intermediaries, agents, and business partners to corruptly influence foreign officials. The Order found that the hedge fund executives ignored red flags and corruption risks and permitted the corrupt transactions to proceed. Both the fund’s CEO and CFO agreed to settle related allegations, without admitting or denying the findings. The CEO agreed to pay nearly $2.2 million to the SEC in the settlement, and a penalty will be assessed against the CFO at a future date.