GOP Senators Introduce Bill to Create Five-member Board of Directors at CFPB

Last week, Sens. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) introduced a bill (S. 105) that would amend the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 to replace the CFPB’s current single director with a bipartisan, five-member board. The proposed leadership structure would be similar to that of other financial regulators, including the FDIC, SEC and CFTC.

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POSTED IN: Consumer Finance, Federal Issues

Chilean Chemical Company Settles FCPA Charges With SEC and DOJ

On January 13, Chilean chemical and mining company agreed to pay nearly $30.5 million to resolve criminal and civil FCPA charges in connection with payments to politically-connected individuals in Chile. The company admitted that, from at least 2008 to 2015, it made approximately $15 million in payments to Chilean politicians, political candidates, and individuals connected to them.  Many of the payments violated Chilean tax law and/or campaign finance limits and were not supported by documentation.  Rather, the company made many of these payments to third-party vendors associated with the politically-connected individuals based on fictitious contracts and invoices for non-existent services.  The company falsely recorded many of these payments in its books and records.

The company agreed to a three-year deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with the DOJ, including a $15,487,500 criminal penalty, and agreed to retain an independent compliance monitor for two years.  The criminal penalty reflected a 25 percent discount from the low end of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines fine range due to the company’s full cooperation and substantial remediation.  The company also agreed to pay a $15 million penalty to the SEC pursuant to an Administrative Order Instituting Cease-and-Desist Proceedings to settle the SEC’s charges that the company violated the books and records and internal controls provisions of the FCPA.

This settlement demonstrates the jurisdictional-reach of the U.S. government in enforcing the FCPA.  The Chilean company with no U.S. operations, agreed to settle both the SEC’s and DOJ’s charges even though the entirety of the conduct occurred outside of the United States and was committed by foreign nationals.  The only tie to the United States referenced in the SEC and DOJ settlement papers is that the company is registered with the SEC as a foreign private issuer (its Series B shares have been listed on the NYSE since 1993).

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Medical Device Company Reaches Second FCPA Settlement in the Span of Five Years

On January 18, a Texas-based medical device company admitted wrongdoing and agreed to pay approximately $6 million to the SEC to settle FCPA books and records and internal controls charges in connection with improper payments made by its Brazilian subsidiary to doctors through third parties. In related non-FCPA proceedings, the company also agreed to pay a $8.25 million penalty to resolve various accounting violations. Each of the four former executives consented to accounting-related SEC orders without admitting or denying the findings. Filing of each can be found here, here, here, and here.

According to the Administrative Order Instituting Cease-and-Desist Proceedings, the company’s Brazilian subsidiary employed third-party commercial representatives and distributors to make improper payments to doctors employed at government-owned hospitals to induce them to use the company’s products, thereby increasing sales.  The company also improperly recorded revenue, leading to the related accounting charges.

In settling with the SEC, The company has now resolved two separate FCPA cases in the span of five years.  In 2012, the company resolved FCPA actions with both the SEC and DOJ in connection with bribes paid to Mexican officials by its Mexican subsidiary.  Given the prior corruption and internal controls issues, the SEC found that the company failed to devise and maintain a system of internal accounting controls sufficient to provide reasonable assurances to detect and prevent such payments.  The company agreed to hire a compliance consultant for one year.

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POSTED IN: Federal Issues, Securities

Trump Announces CFPB Transition Team

On January 5, 2016, the Trump Transition team announced the names of the four individuals assigned to lead the President-elect’s CFPB “Landing Team.” Generally, each landing team is tasked with collect information on each agency—ranging from the agency’s budget and policies to the status of various rulemakings and the current administration’s priorities—all with the overarching purpose of facilitating an orderly transfer of power at the federal financial regulators. The CFPB Landing Team includes:

  • Paul Atkins, former GOP Commissioner for the SEC and current CEO of Patomak Global Partners LLC, which provides consulting services concerning financial services industry matters, regulatory compliance, risk and crisis management, public affairs, independent reviews, litigation support, and strategy.
  • Kyle Hauptman, Senior Development Manager and occasional writer about financial & political issues for the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), member of the SEC’s Advisory Committee on Small and Emerging Companies, and former chief economic adviser on the issues of Financial Markets, Housing to the Romney For President (RFP) campaign.
  • Consuala “CJ” Jordan, a public relations executive and Republican political consultant who is currently CEO of The Jordan Management Group, LLC, a full service Government Relations and Public Affairs Firm, specializing in strategic business development.
  • Julie B. Lindsay, Managing Director and General Counsel of Capital Markets and Corporate Reporting at Citigroup Inc., and former Counsel to Commissioner Glassman at the SEC.
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American Multinational Food Company and British Multinational Confectionery Company Settle FCPA Charges with SEC for $13 Million Related to India Chocolate Factory

On January 6, the British company and the American multinational food company, agreed to pay $13 million to settle the SEC’s allegations related to an agent’s interactions with Indian officials regarding a chocolate factory in India. The charges relate to payments made by the British company’s India unit in 2010 to a local agent who provided consultation services and dealt with Indian governmental officials to obtain clearances and licenses to increase production at the British company’s Baddi plant. The SEC alleged, and both companies neither admitted nor denied, that the British company violated the books and records and internal controls provisions of the FCPA.

According to the SEC, the British company failed to perform appropriate due diligence on the agent and to monitor the agent’s actions, creating a risk that payments could be used for improper purposes. While the agent submitted invoices claiming that he prepared various license applications, the SEC claimed that these license applications were actually prepared by the British company’s other employees. The SEC noted in its decision that the American company had completed its own internal investigation that led to the British company ending its relationship with the agent and that the American company both cooperated with the SEC’s investigation and undertook “extensive remedial actions with respect to [the British company].”

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POSTED IN: Federal Issues, Securities