Friday, February 26, 2010

Step Up to the Podium Friday

Today's post includes FCPA excerpts from various speeches/comments made by enforcement officials over the past couple of days.

Stepping to the podium will be Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer; Mark Mendelsohn - Deputy Chief of the DOJ Fraud Section; and Cheryl Scarboro - the head of the SEC's newly formed FCPA unit.

Lanny Breuer

Breuer spoke at the ABA National Institute on White Collar Crime in Miami. See here for his comments.

As to the FCPA, here is what Breuer had to say.

"... As I’m sure many of you are aware, in a recent FCPA investigation, the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section used undercover law enforcement techniques to uncover what we allege to be widespread fraud and corruption. As a result, 22 executives and employees of companies in the military and law enforcement products industry were indicted for their involvement in schemes to bribe foreign government officials. This investigation involved the most expansive use ever of undercover techniques to uncover FCPA violations."

Note - per the DOJ, there was no actual involvement by any real "foreign government official." This dynamic raises some legal issues - see here.

Back to Breuer's comments.

"Let me say a few more words about our very robust FCPA program, because it, in many ways, typifies how we are approaching crime in corporate America."

"The FCPA investigation I just referenced is the largest single prosecution of individuals in the history of DOJ’s enforcement of the FCPA. It thus vividly illustrates one cornerstone of our FCPA enforcement policy: the aggressive prosecution of individuals. Put simply, the prospect of significant prison sentences for individuals should make clear to every corporate executive, every board member, and every sales agent that we will seek to hold you personally accountable for FCPA violations. As we focus on the prosecution of individuals, we will not shy away from tough prosecutions, and we will not shy away from trials. We are ready, willing, and able to try FCPA cases in any district in the country—as we demonstrated with our three FCPA trial victories just last year."
Note - In one of the trials, William Jefferson was acquitted of FCPA substantive charges. He was convicted of, among things, conspiracy, a verdict that may or may not have, included conspiracy to violate the FCPA. See here. In another trial, Frederic Bourke was convicted of conspiracy to violate the FCPA. He was sentenced to 366 days in prison. At sentencing, Judge Shira Scheindin said - “After years of supervising this case, it’s still not entirely clear to me whether Mr. Bourke is a victim or a crook or a little bit of both.” See here.

Back to Breuer's comments.

"To be sure, we are not focusing on individuals to the exclusion of corporations. We will continue to insist on corporate guilty pleas or to bring criminal charges against corporations in appropriate cases – when the criminal conduct is egregious, pervasive and systemic, or when the corporation fails to implement compliance reforms, changes to its corporate culture, and undertake other measures designed to prevent a recurrence of the criminal conduct. We will continue to insist on appropriately stiff corporate fines, applying a consistent, principled approach that considers the facts and circumstances within the Department’s established framework and that is guided by the Sentencing Guidelines in arriving at an appropriate sanction."

"I also want to assure you that the Department’s commitment to meaningfully reward voluntary disclosures and full and complete corporate cooperation will continue to be honored in both letter and spirit. I know that many of you often grapple with the difficult question of whether to advise your client to make a voluntary disclosure. I strongly urge any corporation that discovers an FCPA violation – or any other criminal violation, for that matter – to seriously consider making a voluntary disclosure and to cooperate with the Department. The Sentencing Guidelines and the Principles of Federal Prosecution of Business Organizations obviously encourage such conduct, and your clients will receive meaningful credit for that disclosure and cooperation."

Mark Mendelsohn

Mendelsohn recently spoke at the Dow Jones Global Ethics Summit in New York City. DOJ has not released a transcript of his remarks, but a collection of media sources covered his comments.

See here, here, and here.

As to the Africa Sting case, Main Justice reports the following from Mendelsohn:

That the government is "in a strong position because of the massive volumes of information it has collected. “That should give you an idea of the strength of our case,” he said. Specifically, Mendelsohn said that a simple meeting in a New York hotel to discuss a bribery scheme would fall under the FCPA, even if the rest of the scheme took place entirely outside the U.S. Money and, potentially, e-mails, electronically transferred through the U.S. could bring a bribery scheme under the jurisdiction of the FCPA, he said."

Cheryl Scarboro

Scarboro, an SEC veteran, was recently appointed to lead the SEC's new FCPA unit (see here). Jesse Sunenblick at Main Justice recently sat down with Scarboro for a Q&A (see here).

As to the new FCPA unit Scarboro said:

"... [T]he new unit will give us the resources and the ability to do even more going forward. People on the ground will be focusing exclusively [on FCPA investigations], making them smarter about industry practices problem areas. We will be able to leverage resources and leads we get from others. There are ongoing investigations exactly like oil for food: not just concerning one company, but looking beyond into widespread practice in particular areas. I would expect filed cases in the short term, in a matter of months. These cases will be an illustration of what we’ve already been doing. But the new unit will allow us to do even more of it. We have areas and industries we are focusing on—pharmaceutical is one."

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