Friday, December 4, 2009

Did An FCPA Enforcement Action Contribute to a Foreign Coup?

Law firms crank out FCPA news releases, client alerts, etc. all the time to inform clients and potential clients about FCPA risks or the who, what, and where of a recent enforcement action ending with a few compliance lessons.

These pieces are informative, but rarely do they raise provocative questions.

That is, until Gregory Paw's (Pepper Hamilton LLP) recent piece (see here) in which he asks whether the Latin Node FCPA enforcement action in the U.S. contributed to the June 2009 coup of Honduran president Manuel Zelaya.

By way of background, in April 2009, DOJ announced (see here) that Latin Node, Inc. (a privately-held telecommunication services company headquartered in Miami) pled guilty to violating the FCPA's anti-bribery provisions in connection with improper payments made to officials in Honduras and Yemen in order to obtain and retain business. The criminal information (see here) details Latin Node's efforts to obtain and retain business with Hondutel (the Honduran government-owned telecommunications company) and charges that despite recognized "financial weaknesses" in Latin Node's proposal, Hondutel ultimately selected Latin Node for the agreement because of various improper payments Latin Node made or authorized to various Honduran "foreign officials."


Hungry for more?

Yesterday, Magyar Telekom, the leading Hungarian telecommunications service provider with shares traded on a U.S. exchange, issued what is perhaps the longest, most detailed press release ever about a potential FCPA issue (see here).

The potential issue was first voluntarily disclosed in February 2006 (see here - p. 14) and yesterday the company announced that it's Audit Committee issued the final report of FCPA's counsel investigation.

I will leave it for you to think about potential application of the issues/questions I raised earlier this week in this post.

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