Thursday, May 27, 2010

DOJ Speaks

There is a "same speech, different day" aspect of late when the DOJ talks about the FCPA. One can reasonably predict what will be said (i.e. DOJ values voluntary disclosure and cooperation), even before it is said, and this has the tendency of diminishing the message.

This week it was Compliance Week 2010 (see here). The speaker's - Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler and Assistant Attorney General (Criminal Division) Lanny Breuer.


On Tuesday, Grindler spoke (see here for his remarks).

Grindler began his remarks as follows:

"Having spent a good portion of my career in private practice representing corporate clients and advising them on compliance matters, I am no stranger to what I suspect many of you in the audience are thinking: What is the Department of Justice focused on and how can I make sure my clients stay as far away from it as possible? I’d like to spend my time with you this evening hopefully answering the first question by giving you a sense of some of the policy and enforcement priorities that we are focused on at the Department and sharing some of my thoughts how you can best position your clients when interacting with the Department."

Grindler's remarks covered three general topics: DOJ's Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, DOJ's efforts to combat health care fraud, and the DOJ's new Intellectual Property Enforcement Task Force.

While speaking on health care fraud, Grindler noted:

"You can be assured that we will also use every tool at our disposal to investigate and prosecute corrupt practices in the pharmaceutical industry. In the months ahead, for example, you can expect to see the Department increasingly use the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act to prosecute kickbacks and bribes paid to foreign government officials by pharmaceutical companies. As the drug companies do more and more of their business overseas where so much of the health care business is government run, we see the opportunities for FCPA violations unfortunately proliferating. Indeed, in some foreign countries nearly every aspect of the approval, manufacture, import, export, pricing, sale and marketing of a drug product may involve a “foreign official” within the meaning of the FCPA. The extent of government involvement in foreign health systems, combined with fierce industry competition and the closed nature of many public formularies, creates, in our view, a significant risk that corrupt payments will infect the process. The Department will not hesitate to charge pharmaceutical companies and their senior executives under the FCPA if warranted to root out foreign bribery in the industry."

For the same speech, different day version, see here and here.

The final part of Grindler's speech is titlted - "What You Can Do." Excerpted portions are below.

"Now, how can you best advise your clients in light of the Department’s enforcement priorities and given the climate we are in where there is so much distrust of corporate America."

"First, you can make sure that your clients have robust, effective compliance programs and internal controls. A company’s compliance program continues to be one of the most important factors that we consider under the Principles of Federal Prosecution of Business Organizations. You are on the front lines of this issue and can make a real difference in your respective institutions by sending the message about the need for an effective compliance program. Compliance programs must not exist only on paper."

"In this context, I want to point out that the United States Sentencing Commission recently amended the Sentencing Guidelines on the issue of compliance programs. Specifically, the Commission clarified the importance of assessing and modifying compliance programs after you discover criminal conduct at your company. The current Guidelines provide that, following the discovery of criminal conduct, a company should, among other things, make “any necessary modifications to the organization's compliance and ethics program.” The new amendment -- assuming it goes into effect in November -- provides a new commentary to that provision specifying that this post-violation process includes “assessing the compliance and ethics program and making modifications necessary to ensure the program is effective … and may include the use of an outside professional advisor to ensure adequate assessment and implementation of any modifications.”

"In addition, the latest Guideline amendments clarify the circumstances under which an effective compliance and ethics program can entitle an organization to a 3-level reduction in its culpability score. Specifically, the amendment allows an organization to receive the decrease if the organization meets four criteria: (1) the individual or individuals with operational responsibility for the compliance and ethics program have direct reporting obligations to the organization’s governing authority or appropriate subgroup thereof; (2) the compliance and ethics program detected the offense before discovery outside the organization or before such discovery was reasonably likely; (3) the organization promptly reported the offense to the appropriate governmental authorities; and (4) no individual with operational responsibility for the compliance and ethics program participated in, condoned, or was willfully ignorant of the offense. These amendments reinforce the point that having a robust compliance program is critical not only to preventing misconduct in the first place, but also how your organization will be treated in the event criminal conduct does take place."

"The second thing you can do to best position your client, is you can partner with us. As I hope has been clear in my discussion of our enforcement efforts, there is a consistent theme of the importance of sharing information and partnering with the private sector in its anti-fraud efforts. Through examples like the National Heath Care Fraud Summit and the regional mortgage fraud summits, we have been reaching out to private sector anti-fraud professionals to share information about fraud schemes and improvements in data analysis. While we have limitations in what we can share, we are interested in exploring ways to work together within those constraints. If the private sector sees new fraud schemes or ways in which we can prevent fraud, that is something you should share with us."

"Third, you can advise your clients to make early, voluntary disclosure of misconduct. As you know, it is usually in your client’s best interest to cooperate with the government’s investigation through the disclosure of relevant facts, the production of documents and other evidence, and making witnesses available who have relevant information."

"Fourth, you can guide your client’s decision to take meaningful remedial measures in response to criminal wrongdoing, including the payment of restitution and the disciplining or termination of culpable employees, officers, or directors."

"In the end, all of these steps – robust compliance programs, information sharing between public and private sector anti-fraud efforts, voluntary disclosure, and meaningful remedial measures -- will inure to the benefit of your clients in several significant ways. They will deter criminal conduct from occurring in the first place. They will ensure that if and when misconduct does occur, it is detected early on and can be rooted out before too much damage is done. Your client will receive credit for such actions during the prosecutorial decision-making process. Finally, such steps will make your clients stronger corporate citizens, and will empower your clients’ officers, directors, and employees to fulfill their fiduciary obligations to shareholders and their duties of honest dealing to the investing public and the taxpayers."

For more on Grindler's speech, including topics raised during the Q&A, see this piece from Christopher Matthews at Main Justice.


On Wednesday, Breuer spoke (see here for a copy of his remarks). Below are various excerpts from the speech.

Given the DOJ's recent "bribery, yet no bribery" cases against BAE and Daimler, I must admit to getting a bit frazzled after only paragraph two of the speech in which Breuer talks about the "the Justice Department’s determination to prosecute – and prosecute aggressively – financial fraud and corruption in all its forms. The American public demands no less, and we will deliver no less."

Speaking generally, Breuer described "a new era of heightened white-collar crime enforcement – an era marked by increased resources, increased information-sharing, increased cooperation and coordination, and tough penalties for corporations and individuals alike."

Breuer next discussed that "additional resources are also being committed in the Criminal Division, where we are in the process of adding a number of attorneys to the Fraud Section – lawyers who will be deployed immediately to prosecute crimes like securities fraud, health care fraud, and foreign bribery under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act." He cited the Africa Sting case as an example of using "more aggressive law enforcement techniques" and further stated that "it is fair to say that [DOJ] will continue to look for opportunities to innovate in how we identify financial fraud and corruption."

Speaking of innovation at the SEC, Breuer stated:

"The SEC will now make use of cooperation agreements, as well as deferred and non-prosecution agreements – all of which have been staples of the Justice Department’s approach in white collar criminal cases for many years now. These innovations will likely lead to even earlier and closer coordination between the SEC and the Justice Department."

Breuer next talked specifically about foreign bribery "which obviously is at the center of this heightened enforcement climate and which presents unique compliance challenges."

Below are his remarks.

"As I have said in the past, foreign bribery is a law enforcement challenge of truly global dimensions. It is, as the Attorney General has said, a 'scourge on civil society.' We in the Criminal Division combat foreign bribery each and every day. And as we go about our business, we are looking carefully at lapses in corporate compliance. Why? Because of what I said a few minutes ago. Our preference, like yours, is for these crimes to be prevented in the first instance. And the only way that can happen in your organizations is through a robust, state-of-the-art compliance program and a true culture of compliance."

"I know that you all do not lack for incentives; the statistics in FCPA enforcement are well known. But it is worth pausing on them for a moment."

"Since 2004, the Fraud Section has achieved 37 corporate FCPA and foreign bribery related resolutions, with fines totaling over $1.5 billion. In this time period, we have charged 81 individuals with FCPA violations and related offenses. Forty-six have been charged since the start of 2009 – more than the total number of individuals charged in the previous seven years combined."

"The individuals charged have included CEOs, CFOs, other senior-level corporate officials and, where jurisdiction existed here, several foreign officials. Charging individuals is part of a deliberate enforcement strategy to deter and prevent corrupt corporate conduct before it happens. And rest assured that we will seek equally tough sentences, including significant jail time if appropriate, to reinforce this message of deterrence."

"Aggressive enforcement by the Criminal Division provides one set of incentives for corporations. Others are sprouting up each and every day, and they are coming from all corners as anti-fraud and corruption enforcement catches up with the globalization of business."

"Here in the United States, the United States Sentencing Commission recently approved amendments to its Sentencing Guidelines, one of which reaffirmed the importance of compliance and ethics programs within organizations. The amendment stressed the critical need to embed these programs at the very highest level of the organization. In an interesting twist, the Commission expanded eligibility for effective compliance and ethics program credit at sentencing even if one or more members of 'high level personnel' has some role in the offense."

"But there’s a catch. In order to be eligible for credit where there is such 'high level' involvement, the corporation must have in place a direct reporting relationship between the individual with operational responsibility for the compliance program and the corporation’s governing body. And more than that, the corporation must have discovered the offense and reported it to enforcement officials before it otherwise became known. The amendment has not been uncontroversial. But whatever your opinion, it can at least be said that the amendment reflects the Commission’s view that compliance should be embedded at the very highest levels of an organization."

"On the international front, the United Kingdom has passed a new, comprehensive Bribery Act that criminalizes, among other things, the failure by a corporate entity to prevent bribery. Pretty serious, right? Well, the Act does provide a defense to such a charge if the corporate entity can show that it has 'adequate procedures' in place to deter and detect such conduct. What does 'adequate procedures' mean? It’s not entirely clear. And I’m, of course, not your lawyer. But, at a minimum, it would seem prudent to have in place a strong, state-of-the-art compliance program."

Breuer then offers a few thoughts on compliance and offers up the Principles of Federal Prosecution of Business Organizations (see here) and the OECD’s Good Practice Guidance on Internal Controls, Ethics, and Compliance (see here - Annex II) as benchmarks.

Breuer then acknowledges that "even the best compliance program may not stop fraud or corruption from occurring. So, what should a corporation do when a problem has been discovered?"

Because the answer has been stated numerous, numerous times, you probably already known the answer - voluntarily disclose and cooperate.

Below are Breuer's comments on these issues:

"Whether to voluntarily disclose potential criminality is admittedly a difficult question for business entities."

"But I can offer you this: If you come forward and if you fully cooperate with our investigation, you will receive meaningful credit for having done so. In talking about 'meaningful' credit, we are not promising amnesty for doing the right thing. But, self-reporting and cooperation carry significant incentives – by working with the Department, no charges may be brought at all, or we may agree to a deferred prosecution agreement or non-prosecution agreement, sentencing credit, or a below-Guidelines fine. Ultimately, every case is fact-specific and requires an assessment of the facts and circumstances, as well as the severity and pervasiveness of the conduct and the quality of the corporation’s pre-existing compliance program. But, in every case of self-disclosure, full cooperation, and remediation, the Department is committed to giving meaningful credit where it’s deserved to obtain a fair and just resolution."

"The Siemens matter is a case in point. While the conduct in that case is arguably the most egregious example of systemic foreign corruption ever prosecuted by the Department, [Note - Siemens was not charged with violating the FCPA's anti-bribery provisions] it also illustrates the tremendous benefits that flow from truly extraordinary cooperation. By Siemens opening itself up to authorities, [Note - Siemens did this after its offices were raided by German authorities] the Department completed its investigation and resolved the case – with domestic and international dimensions – in two years’ time. In the end, the benefits Siemens received through its cooperation, even in the absence of a voluntary disclosure, were plain – the $450 million fine that was paid to the Justice Department, although quite substantial, was a far cry from the advisory range of $1.35 billion to $2.7 billion called for in the Sentencing Guidelines. Put another way, Siemens received a penalty that was 67 to 84 percent less than what it otherwise could have faced had it not provided extraordinary cooperation and carried out such extensive remediation."

"Another example, on a more modest scale, was the resolution of the Helmerich & Payne matter, a company that self-disclosed improper or questionable payments. [Note - is Breuer acknowledging that the payments at issue in this case - payments to various officials and representatives of the Argentine and Venezuelan customs services in connection with importation and exportation of goods and equipment - may not have violated the FCPA? See here for more] The case was resolved through a non-prosecution agreement with a term of two years, a penalty of $1 million (which was approximately 30 percent below the bottom of the Guidelines range), and compliance self-reporting by the company for a period of two years in lieu of an independent compliance monitor. Because of the forward-leaning, proactive, and highly cooperative approach taken by Helmerich & Payne, that company received a host of benefits that likely would not otherwise have been obtained from the Department."

"In short, these two cases, and others like them, reflect the Department’s willingness to step up to the plate when a corporation does the right thing by making a voluntary disclosure and cooperating fully."

"Let me offer one additional piece of guidance on this topic. When a problem has been discovered, the corporation should seriously consider seeking the government’s input on the front end of its internal investigation. [Note - at the front end of an FCPA internal investigation, it is generally not even known if a violation has occurred - why should a company seek the DOJ's input when it is not yet known if a violation of law has occurred?] We encourage a company to come in and describe its work plan for conducting the investigation. Often we have questions, or helpful suggestions, or we may ask that the corporation expand the scope of the investigation. Regardless, the dialogue can be very helpful in ensuring at the outset that the corporation has an effective, cost-effective plan in place to investigate and deal with the problem."

Breuer then offered a few words about compliance monitors.

Below are his comments.

"In resolving criminal conduct, the Department’s goal is to vindicate the law and ensure adherence to it in both letter and spirit. In that regard, the structure and terms of a corporate resolution are properly determined by the particular facts of the case and the circumstances surrounding the specific business entity and the public interest. Thus, a compliance monitor may be particularly useful where the agreement requires the corporation to design, or substantially re-design, and implement a broad compliance and ethics program and internal controls. As an independent observer, the monitor can enable the government to verify whether a business is fulfilling the obligations to which it agreed. In other cases, however, a compliance monitor may not be needed for a variety of reasons, such as where the business organization has ceased operations in the area where the criminal conduct occurred, or where the business has re-designed and effectively implemented appropriate compliance measures and internal controls before entering into an agreement with the United States."

"However the calculus plays out, we are always mindful of, and we do weigh, the potential benefits of employing a monitor with the cost of a compliance monitor and its impact on the operations of the business organization. Of that much you can be sure."

For more on Breuer's speech, including topics raised during the Q&A, see this piece from Christopher Matthews at Main Justice.


A good holiday weekend to all - please check back on Tuesday for a post about a current FCPA compliance monitor.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The 1981 GAO Report

The year was 1981.

The FCPA was a mere infant - approximately 3.5 years old. Those living with it were concerned with its ambiguities and complying with it.

In March 1981, the "investigative arm" of Congress, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report, “Impact of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act on U.S. Business.” (See here and here).

The report was based, in part, on a GAO questionnaire survey of 250 companies randomly selected from the Fortune 1000 list of the largest industrial firms in the U.S.

The questionnaire addressed the FCPA's relationship to the following four areas: (1) corporate policies and/or codes of conduct, (2) corporate systems of accountability, (3) cost burdens, if any, incurred by management to comply with the act, and (4) corporate opinions regarding the (i) acts effect on U.S. corporate foreign sales, (ii) the clarity of the act’s provisions, (iii) the potential effectiveness of an international antibribery agreement, and (iv) perceived effectiveness of the act in reducing questionable payments.

The GAO also discussed the FCPA's impact with leading public accounting firms, professional accounting and auditing organizations, professional legal associations and business and public interest groups. In addition, the GAO discussed enforcement of the FCPA with DOJ and SEC officials and examined documentation relating to enforcement activities. Also interviewed by the GAO were officials from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, Department of Commerce, Treasury, and State.

The GAO report covers all the topics listed above. However, this post relates to the clarity of the FCPA's provisions.

Chapter 4 of the Report is titled “Issues Surrounding the Act’s Antibribery Provisions.”

The chapter begins by noting that there is “confusion over what constitutes compliance with the act’s antibribery provisions.”

The report notes that “corporate and governmental officials have criticized the anti-bribery provisions as being ambiguous about what constitutes compliance.”

The ambiguities include confusion or uncertainty about a host of issues, including the “definition of ‘foreign official.””

At the time, the term “foreign official” specifically excluded any employee whose duties are essentially ministerial or clerical.” This exclusion was eliminated in the 1988 amendments to the FCPA. Otherwise the definition of "foreign official" the GAO report found to be ambiguous is same today - “any officer or employee of a foreign government or one of its departments, agencies or instrumentalties.” [Note -the public international organization prong was added in 1998].

The report notes:

“This definition has been criticized as unclear. Lawyers we contacted questioned whether employees of public corporations, such as national airlines or nationalized companies, are considered foreign officials. Similar questions have surfaced in countries – particularly developing countries – where there are small and frequently closely related groups, including both business and government relationships as well as families. Individuals within these groups frequently move between the private and public sectors, often without a clear distinction.”

The report then discusses the DOJ’s guidance program and begins by noting that “President Carter expressed concern over the potential effect of the act’s alleged ambiguities in September 1978 – only 9 months after its passage.” “To reduce this uncertainty, he directed the Department of Justice to give the business community guidance concerning its enforcement intentions under the act.”

The report notes that in March 1980, the DOJ implemented its “long awaited guidance program” but that the “program has yet to effectively address the ambiguities, and it is doubtful it will.”

In concluding Chapter 4 of the Report, the GAO notes:

“the act is an expression of congressional policy, and rigorously defined and completely unambiguous requirements may be impractical and could provide a roadmap for corporate bribery. On other hand, companies, whether registered with SEC or domestic concerns under Department of Justice jurisdiction, should be subject to clear and consistent demands by the Government agencies responsible for enforcing the act.”

An option the GAO recommends is that “the Justice Department, SEC, and other interested agencies [...] offer legislative proposals which would amend the act to more explicitly define the antibribery provisions and [such an amendment] could cover concepts such as the definition of “foreign official.”

GAO notes “because of the importance of the act and the questions and concerns about the antibribery provisions, close congressional oversight is needed.”

Not surprsingly, both DOJ and SEC disagreed with the GAO's findings. In its responses, the agencies attack, not the substance of the findings, but the GAO's methodology.

The GAO report states:

“Both SEC and Justice disagree with our recommendations that they develop alternative ways to address the antibribery provisions. They contend that our statistics suggest that ambiguities in the act are not a sigifnicaint problem.”

In 1981, the investigative arm of Congress found, based on extensive study, that the FCPA's "foreign official" element was ambiguous.

Here we are some thirty years later having the same discussion.

[Here is another interesting nugget. In June 1981, John Fedders was named to be the SEC's Director of Enforcement, replacing Stanley Sporkin who left to become general counsel at the CIA. During a news conference, Fedders "pledged to enforce, with discretion, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which he criticized as being ambiguous." See Owen Ullmann, "Corporate Lawyer Gets SEC Enforcement Post," Associated Press, June 29, 1981.]

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

FCPA Debarment Bill Introduced

Last week, Representative Peter Welch (D-VT) introduced H.R. 5366 (see here).

Titled the "Overseas Contractor Reform Act," the bill states that "it is the policy of the United States Government that no Government contracts or grants should be awarded to individuals or companies who violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977."

The bill states, "any person found to be in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 shall be proposed for debarment from any contract or grant awarded by the Federal Government within 30 days after a final judgment of such violation."

However, there is a big "unless" qualifier.

The qualifier is "unless waived by the head of a Federal Agency." The bill states: "The head of a Federal agency may waive this section for a Federal contract or grant. Any such waiver shall be reported to Congress by the head of the agency concerned within 30 days from the date of the waiver, along with an accompanying justification."

Because most FCPA enforcement actions are settled through a non-prosecution agreement (NPA) or deferred prosecution agreements (DPA) (see here), the bill may need some tweaking if it is to be effective.

Among other issues will be: is a company that agrees to an NPA or DPA to resolve an FCPA case "found to be in violation of the FCPA." Likely not.

Also, the bill defines "final judgment" as when "all appeals of the judgment have been finally determined, or all time for filing such appeals has expired." Again, this assumes that all FCPA enforcement actions are resolved through actual judicial proceedings - which is not how FCPA enforcement works in many cases.

Other issues with the bill is that "persons" merely includes: an individual, a partnership and a corporation. Other business entities are equally capable of violating the FCPA and the bill, to be most effective, should adopt the definition of "domestic concern" in the FCPA. (see 78dd-2(h)(1) here).

Other potential shortcomings with the bill is that it only applies to violations of the FCPA's antibribery provisions. Thus, the bill would not be triggered by the recent "bribery, yet no bribery" cases (Daimler, BAE, and Siemens) - see here, here and here. In these cases, despite DOJ allegations that would seem to establish that the company violated the FCPA's antibribery provisions, none of these companies were charged with violating the FCPA's antibribery provisions. Instead, non-FCPA charges or FCPA books and records and internal controls violations were charged in an attempt to avoid application of the European Union debarment provisions. (This fact is apparent from the DOJ's sentencing memos in the cases - see here).

The big picture flaw with H.R. 5366 (as currently drafted) is it assumes all FCPA enforcement actions are resolved through judicial proceedings and it assumes all FCPA enforcement actions are resolved with charges that actually fit the facts.

Neither of these assumptions are accurate - that why I call FCPA enforcement, in many cases, a facade.

Nevertheless, despite the shortcomings of H.R. 5366 as drafted, the bill is a step in the right direction.

The bill has been referred to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Yesterday's post (see here) profiled a letter from the Chairman of that committee, Edolphus Towns (D-NY), to Attorney General Holder regarding debarment issues.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Congressman Towns Is Asking The Right Questions

One interesting, surprising, and controversial aspect of FCPA enforcement is that the U.S. government remains a lucrative customer for many FCPA violators, including some of the most egregious violators.

Last December, on the one-year anniversary of the record-setting Siemens enforcement actions, I ran this post - "Siemens ... The Year After."

Among other things, the post noted that in the year since resolution of the Siemens FCPA matter, the U.S. government continues to do substantial business with the company it charged with engaging in a pattern of bribery “unprecedented in scale and geographic scope.”

Using, the post then identifies many of the hundreds of government contracts awarded to Siemens' business units with funds made available from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the $787 billion stimulus bill passed by Congress and signed by President Obama in February 2009.

These contracts have been awarded by the following government agencies: Department of Defense, Department of the Air Force, Department of the Army, Department of Transportation, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Energy, Department of Commerce, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the General Services Administration. According to, even the DOJ (i.e. the same government agency that prosecuted Siemens for a pattern of bribery the agency termed “unprecedented in scale and geographic scope”) awarded a Siemens business unit a contract funded with stimulus dollars. Because these are just government contracts awarded with stimulus money, they represent merely the tip of the iceberg.

Siemens is not alone.

In February, BAE settled "FCPA-like" charges. Since the enforcement action, the company has been inking contracts with U.S. government agencies left and right.

Last week it was a $10.7 million contract with the U.S. Army (see here). The week before it was a $5.5 million contract and a $10 million contract with U.S. government agencies (see here and here).

Numerous other FCPA violators could be listed as well.

Against this backdrop, Congressman Edolphus Towns (D-NY), Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, is asking the right questions.

In a May 18th letter to Attorney General Eric Holder (see here) the Committee expresses its concern "that settlements of civil and criminal cases by DOJ are being used as a shield to foreclose other appropriate remedies, such as suspension and debarment, that protect the government from continuing to do business with contractors who do not have satisfactory records of quality performance and business ethics."

The letter specifically mentions Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR), including its 2009 FCPA enforcement action (see here and here).

The letter notes that "remarkably, neither the criminal [FCPA] conviction" nor KBR's other legal woes "have precluded KBR from continuing to receive new government contracts."

The letter then correctly notes, as detailed above, that "KBR does not appear to be an isolated example of this inconsistent policy whereby DOJ pursues fines and criminal sanctions for illegal actions by government contractors, yet the negotiated resolution of these cases does not have any effect on the company's eligibility to continue to receive new contracts. In fact, an agreement by DOJ to intervene on the company's behalf in any collateral proceedings, such as suspension and debarment, is a staple of deferred prosecution agreements."

The letter continues:

"This type of clause, in which DOJ agrees to take the company's side in suspension and debarment proceedings, has become standard and continues to this day. In a settlement just last month in which Daimler paid $185 million to settle criminal and civil charges that it violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, DOJ "agrees to cooperate with Daimler" "[w]ith respect to Daimler's present reliability and responsibility as a government contractor." (See here for the Deferred Prosecution Agreement - para 21).

The letter concludes by the Committee asking for answers to the following questions by May 28th.

1. Does DOJ consider resolution of charges to foreclose action by other government agencies to suspend or debar companies from contracting?

2. In view of the fact that suspension and debarment is not a penalty, but is an important means for government agencies to protect themselves from unscrupulous and poorly performing contractors, please provide a detailed explanation of whether the Justice Department believes it is in the government's best interest to continue to award contracts to those with a record of violations of law.

3. Does DOJ consult with federal government contracting authorities when entering into settlement agreements with companies that compete for government contracts?

4. Identify all instances in which DOJ officials intervened in a suspension and debarment proceeding on behalf of government contractors since 2005 and explain the basis for the DOJ intervention.

These are all the right questions to ask of the DOJ.

I've noted in numerous other posts (and elsewhere) that DOJ's deterrance message will not fully be heard until an FCPA violator is debarred from receiving lucrative government contracts.

For a copy of the Committee's news release (see here).

Friday, May 21, 2010

Is the FCPA a Government Cash Cow?

Last December, I noticed this piece which discussed the increase in FCPA enforcement. One reason, according to the authors (including a former assistant director of the Division Enforcement of the SEC) - "governments will keep pursuing corrupt business practices for one very simple reason--it's lucrative."

Interesting point isn't it?

If one were to calculate the "rate of return" / "return on investment" in a typical Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action it would be enormous. Most FCPA enforcement actions result from corporate voluntary disclosures whereby company counsel deliver to the prosecutors three-ring binders of the relevant documents and witness interview memos from the internal investigation and otherwise cooperate. Thus, it does not take much in terms of government resources to prosecute a typical FCPA enforcement action which typically leads to multi-million dollar fines and penalties.

Where does this money go?

Straight to the U.S. treasury.

Say what you want about the SFO's BAE enforcement action, but at least a portion of that money went to the alleged "victims" of the wrongful conduct prosecuted - the people of Tanzania. (See here).

The suggestion that one of the reasons for the rise in FCPA enforcement is because it is a lucrative cash cow for the government would seem not to be dispelled by comments made this week in an American Lawyer article "Here Comes the Payoff Police" (here) by a former high-ranking DOJ FCPA official. The comment that caught my attention is this:

"The government sees a profitable program, and it's going to ride that horse until it can't ride it anymore."


Here are some other tidbits that caught my eye this week.

More Pre-Enforcement Action News

It used to be that FCPA enforcement actions made the news. Now, it's pre-enforcement action. Alcatel-Lucent (here) stay tuned it's coming. Technip (here) stay tuned it's coming. Panalpina (here) stay tuned it's coming.

Add to the list Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson. See here for the Main Justice piece.

FCPA Unit in S.F.

As detailed here and elsewhere, the SEC's San Francisco branch office has a new unit devoted exclusively to the FCPA. "The fact that we have a significant presence of companies in Silicon Valley who do business internationally, specifically in Asia, makes us well-suited for addressing these kinds of issues," said Tracy L. Davis, the assistant regional director in charge of the new San Francisco unit. "That's one of the reasons why San Francisco is a particularly good location for an FCPA unit."

A good weekend to all.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The FCPA and Reputational Damage

Nearly every FCPA presentation one sees or hears seems to talk about collateral sanctions which flow from an FCPA enforcement action, including the reputational harm companies "suffer" when disclosing FCPA issues or settling FCPA enforcement actions.

But is it true?

Do companies that disclose FCPA issues or settle FCPA enforcement actions actually suffer any reputational damage?

For companies, reputation is traditionally measured by stock price performance and business revenue.

Do companies that disclose FCPA issues or settle FCPA enforcement actions have a decrease in stock price or lose business?

How does one even measure such an issue?

Stock price movement upon the market first learning of a potential FCPA issue? Stock price movement upon settlement of an FCPA enforcement action? Something in between? Business revenue during the period of uncertainty (i.e. from disclosure to settlement)? Business revenue in the year after settlement of an FCPA enforcement action?

Whatever the metric, the answer to whether companies suffer reputational damage upon disclosing an FCPA issue or settling an FCPA enforcement action seems to be inconclusive.

That was the conclusion of a January 2009 study by Nera Economic Consulting (see here). Among other things, the study concluded that "the extent of the fallout from the relatively recent trend of increased FCPA enforcement actions remains uncertain." For some companies "there was no statistically significant price reaction" yet for other companies there was a "negative price reaction."

The below examples also seem to support the inconclusive answer.

Last month, (see here) Hewlett-Packard Co.'s (HP) Moscow offices were raided in connection with an investigation focusing on whether company executives made millions in payments to the prosecutor general of the Russian Federation to secure contracts. It was front page news in several publications, including the Wall Street Journal. This week HP (see here) disclosed second quarter results (the same quarter the issue surfaced). The results ... stellar. "Second quarter net revenue of $30.8 billion, up 13%, or $3.5 billion, from a year earlier." HP's Chairman and CEO said "HP had an exceptional quarter with strong performance across every region," - "we've built the best portfolio in the industry, and our customers are responding. We're winning in the marketplace, investing for the future and confident in the enormous opportunity that lies ahead." What about the company's performance in Russia? Even better. The HP release notes "revenue from outside of the United States in the second quarter accounted for 66% of total HP revenue, with revenue in the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) increasing 25% while accounting for 10% of total HP revenue."

Front page press coverage of HP's potential FCPA issues seems to have had no affect on the company's reputation when viewed through the prism of financial performance.

What about Siemens?

In the 365 days after the Siemens enforcement action, Siemens outperformed its competitors and received mounds of new business from the U.S. government, including taxpayer funds from the $787 billion stimulus bill passed by Congress and signed by President Obama in February 2009 (see here). This despite the fact (according to DOJ statements) that Siemens engaged in a pattern of bribery "unprecedented in scale and geographic scope" and for much of Siemens operations around the world "bribery was nothing less than standard operating procedure." Siemens surely paid a hefty fine/penalty amount, but did its reputation suffer? It would appear not.

What about BAE?

When the BAE "FCPA-like" enforcement action was announced, the company's stock rose. Since the February 2010 enforcement action, the company has been inking contracts with the U.S. and U.K. governments (the prosecuting governments) left and right. This week it was a $10.7 million contract with the U.S. Army (see here). Last week it was a $5.5 million contract and a $10 million contract with U.S. government agencies (see here and here). Throw in a recent £111 million contract from the UK's Ministry of Defence (see here) and one would be justified in concluding that it matters very little if a company is caught engaging in bribery and corruption.

However, just when one is set to reach such a conclusion, along comes a company like Avon. Last month, the company shares dropped 8% upon news that its previously disclosed FCPA issues appear to have escalated. (see here, here and here). It sure looks like Avon's reputation (viewed through the prism of its stock price) has suffered because of the FCPA escalation.


Somewhat "on topic" is the recent news that Daimler AG, after a 17 year listing on the New York Stock Exchange, has decided to delist. Purely coincidence that this delisting is occuring approximately one month after Daimler resolved its FCPA case?

Daimler agreed to enter into a deferred prosecution agreement for conspiring to violate the FCPA's books and records provisions and knowingly falsifying books, records and accounts, provisions which only apply to "issuers".

(The DOJ's allegations as to Daimler also allege use of U.S. bank accounts and U.S. entities - an independent basis by which a foreign company like Daimler can become subject to the FCPA). For more on the Daimler enforcement action (see here and here).

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Darden to Patton Boggs

Last month, it was Mark Mendelsohn who left his DOJ FCPA prosecutor job for a lucrative FCPA private practice career (see here and here).

This month, it is John "Jay" Darden, the lead DOJ prosecutor in the recent Daimler enforcement action (see here). Earlier this week, Darden (here) began at Patton Boggs (see here).

While at DOJ, Darden was an active speaker on the FCPA circuit (see here and here and here).

As noted in Patton Boggs' press release (titled "Patton Boggs Snares Senior Justice Fraud Prosecutor"), Darden, who has government health-care fraud experience as well, will play a "key role" in the firm's FCPA practice.

In the release, the managing partner of Patton Boggs states that Darden's "keen strategic insight and deep knowledge of how the Justice Department approaches investigations in different areas of the criminal law will help a diverse range of clients overcome allegations of wrongdoing" and that the firm is "delighted to have such a talented and experienced prosecutor join our ranks." Darden noted that he "look[s] forward to using my expertise to assist clients with their compliance needs and to defend them against criminal allegations."

A few weeks ago, Nathan Vardi's Forbes article (see here) generated much coverage (see here, here, here and here).

If you found Vardi's points about a revolving door (and all the questions that may arise from this) valid and legitimate, you have another recent example to cite.

If you found Vardi's article a "low blow," "unbalanced and "unhinged," you may be asking, what's the big deal, DOJ prosecutors leave the agency all the time for private practice careers ... that's just how Washington works.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Q & A With Martin Weinstein

Martin Weinstein (here) is a "dean" of the FCPA bar. Much of my early understanding of the FCPA came as a direct result of working with Martin on FCPA investigations and enforcement actions. I also have Martin to thank for several of the stamps in my passport.

Below is a Q & A exchange with Martin in which he talks about the FCPA's early years, the current state of enforcement, and suggestions for change.


Q: As a 1984 law school graduate did you have any exposure to the FCPA? Describe your first exposure to the FCPA?

A: When I was in law school, I never heard of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and didn’t even know that it existed until around 1991. I was an Assistant U.S. Attorney, and a witness I was interviewing mentioned to me that she thought that some payments had been made to an Egyptian government official. I remember turning to the investigating agent who was with me and saying, “isn’t there a statute somewhere that prohibits this?” That was my first exposure to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Q: You were lead DOJ counsel in the Lockheed case in the mid-1990's. Generally describe this matter, how it was resolved, and whether resolution of this case, if brought in 2010, would look any different?

A: I was the lead counsel in the Lockheed case that was resolved in the mid-1990’s, specifically January 1995. It was, by all accounts, the first really serious corporate case brought in the then 20 year history of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. In that case, the company actually was indicted, and the allegations involved payments to a member of the Egyptian Parliament to obtain a contract through which the Egyptian Air Force would buy three C130 aircraft from Lockheed. There were two individuals also charged. The cases against all three defendants (the company and the two individuals) were resolved before trial, in the company’s case, literally days before the jury was to be selected.

The company agreed to plead guilty to a conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. It agreed to pay a combination of civil and criminal damages in the amount of $24.8 million, which was twice the profit of the contract they had with the Egyptian military to sell the C130 aircraft.

One of the individuals pled guilty to a lesser charge, and the other individual, a marketing manager named Suleiman Nassar, actually fled to Syria. That was one of the most interesting parts of the case for me because I visited Damascus on several occasions and negotiated directly with the government. Nassar was imprisoned in Syria on these charges, but was ultimately released and returned to the U.S. to plead guilty to violating the FCPA and became, I believe, the first person to go to jail under the FCPA.

Q: Did FCPA enforcement, during the last decade, morph into something other than what Congress intended the FCPA to address when passed in 1977?

A: The last decade of FCPA enforcement has seen extraordinary evolution, and I think you have to say that when Congress passed the law in 1977, they did not envision the wide reach of enforcement today and the types of things that the government gets involved in, such as transactions, joint ventures, and successor liability. I do think that the DOJ and the SEC have stayed generally true to the vision of the FCPA, which focuses on things of value, primarily money, going to foreign government officials in exchange for business.

Q: What is your biggest challenge as an FCPA practitioner? How has your FCPA practice changed over the past decade?

A: The challenges as an FCPA practitioner have mainly involved keeping up with the pace of the enforcement agencies in recent years. Whereas cases used to involve U.S. companies and their businesses in a few countries, the typical case now involves enforcement actions by multiple sovereigns involving the same company at the same time, and that makes the practice more challenging and more fascinating.

Q: What are your clients' biggest challenges / frustrations with the FCPA or FCPA enforcement? Have these challenges / frustrations changed over the past decade?

A: I think that companies’ main frustration is that even with an outstanding compliance program and 99% of the employees maintaining strict adherence to the laws, you can still have violations which expose the entire company to extraordinarily serious penalties. I think the government has, at times, lost track of the main motivations for this statute and has become focused on the amounts of penalties, the imposition of compliance monitors, and exercising government control over what are basically private businesses. The vast majority of companies are absolutely committed to following the spirit and the letter of the FCPA, but when a company gets into trouble, the whole enterprise can be put at risk because of the conduct of a few people, and that doesn’t seem right. I worry that the government has come to see private industry through “dirty” glasses: the punishments don’t seem to fit the crimes.

Q: The FCPA was passed in 1977, amended in 1988 and also amended in 1998. Given this approximate ten year cycle, is the FCPA in need of further amendment? If so, what would the "Weinstein" amendment look like?

A: I think the Weinstein amendment would focus on the very significant issue of who is a foreign official and what constitutes a state-controlled instrumentality. There is so little guidance in this area that an amendment to the law providing clarity to companies wishing to comply is really essential. For example, after the U.K. government takeovers of certain British banks and U.S. intervention in the auto industry, did all these private businesses become state-controlled instrumentalities rendering all their employees government officials? Companies should not have to guess who is and who is not a government official.

Q: Arguably the two most egregious bribery schemes in recent years involved Siemens and BAE. In both instances, the companies were not charged with FCPA antibribery violations. What message does this send?

A: Siemens and BAE were not charged with antibribery violations largely for two different reasons. In the Siemens case and a number of other cases, charging a company with antibribery violations renders it susceptible to significant suspension and debarment risks. If the government can find suitable alternatives to antibribery charges and still tell the full story of the conduct to the public, it is really a much more just solution not to expose the company to extreme suspension and debarment risks. In BAE, I think the issue was much more one of jurisdiction, and I think the government is going to find this issue repeatedly if it continues to seek to prosecute foreign companies that have relatively little contact with U.S. interstate commerce.

Q: How can law and business schools best expose future lawyers and business leaders to the FCPA? What advice do you have for law students interesting in a future FCPA practice?

A: The FCPA has been a fantastic area in which to practice and to watch evolve. For students who are interested in the field, I think the most important thing is to learn as much as you can about U.S. criminal law and U.S. securities law and their interplay with various anticorruption laws around the world. It has become a very complicated field and I think it is safe to say the stakes for companies and individuals have never been higher.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Alcatel-Lucent's Woes Continue

First it was Lucent Technologies. It settled parallel DOJ and SEC enforcement actions principally based on providing excessive travel and entertainment benefits to Chinese "foreign officials" (see here and here).

Then it was Alcatel-Lucent. It settled Costa Rican charges that it paid "kickbacks to former Costa Rican President Miguel Angel Rodriguez and other government officials in return for a 2001 contract worth $149 million to supply cellular telephone equipment." (See here).

Then it was Alcatel-Lucent that disclosed it had reached agreements with the DOJ and SEC to resolve bribery and corruption allegations in several countries, including Costa Rica, Taiwan, and Kenya. These agreements have not yet been announced. Here is what the company most recently said in its March 23rd Form 20-F:

"FCPA investigations: In December 2009 we reached agreements in principle with the SEC and the U.S. Department of Justice with regard to the settlement of their ongoing investigations involving our alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) in several countries, including Costa Rica, Taiwan, and Kenya. Under the agreement in principle with the SEC, we would enter into a consent decree under which we would neither admit nor deny violations of the antibribery, internal controls and books and records provisions of the FCPA and would be enjoined from future violations of U.S. securities laws, pay U.S. $ 45.4 million in disgorgement of profits and prejudgment interest and agree to a three-year French anticorruption compliance monitor. Under the agreement in principle with the DOJ, we would enter into a three-year deferred prosecution agreement (DPA), charging us with violations of the internal controls and books and records provisions of the FCPA, and we would pay a total criminal fine of U.S. $ 92 million, payable in four installments over the course of three years. In addition, three of our subsidiaries – Alcatel-Lucent France, Alcatel-Lucent Trade International AG and Alcatel Centroamerica – would each plead guilty to violations of the FCPA’s antibribery, books and records and internal accounting controls provisions. If we fully comply with the terms of the DPA, the DOJ would dismiss the charges upon conclusion of the three-year term. Final agreements must still be reached with the agencies and accepted in court."

[For those of you "scoring at home" this would appear to be yet another DOJ "bribery, yet no bribery" enforcement action against the parent company. The DOJ's eventual sentencing memorandum is likely to mention the European Union debarment provisions which would be applicable to Paris-based Alcatel-Lucent should it have been charged with FCPA anti-bribery violations.]

As if all of the above were not enough, it was recently reported (here) that "El Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE), Costa Rica's telecommunications and electricity provider, filed a complaint in the Miami-Dade County Circuit Court, Miami, Florida, against Alcatel Lucent S.A. and other related parties." According to the article, "the complaint asserts claims for violations of civil racketeering and other laws of Florida in connection with Alcatel Lucent's bribery and corruption of Costa Rican officials to secure telecommunications contracts with ICE" and that "if successful, the lawsuit will allow ICE to recover three times the amount of its damages."

Friday, May 14, 2010

Focus on Pharma

Yesterday, Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler spoke at the National Institute on Health Care Fraud in Miami. Part of his remarks (see here) included the following:

"... in the months ahead, you can expect to see the department increasingly using the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act to prosecute kickbacks and bribes paid to foreign government officials by pharmaceutical companies. As the drug companies do more and more of their business overseas where so much of the health care business is government run, we unfortunately see the opportunities for FCPA violations proliferating. In some foreign countries, nearly every aspect of the approval, manufacture, import, export, pricing, sale and marketing of a drug product may involve a “foreign official” within the meaning of the FCPA. The department will not hesitate to charge pharmaceutical companies and their senior executives under the FCPA if warranted to root out foreign bribery in the industry."

If the above "nearly every aspect" snippet sounds familiar, you have a good memory.

It is nearly verbatim what Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said during a keynote address to the 10th Annual Pharmaceutical Regulatory and Compliance Congress and Best Practices Forum last November. (See here).

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Innospec's Positive Financial Results

In March, Innospec got hit on both sides of the Atlantic (see here) and agreed to pay $40.2 million in combined DOJ/SEC/SFO fines and penalties for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and other laws.

However, it could have been worse.

The SEC release (see here) notes that Innospec, without admitting or denying the SEC's allegations, was ordered to pay $60,071,613 in disgorgement, but because of Innospec's "sworn Statement of Financial Condition" all but $11,200,000 of that disgorgement was waived.

The release states that "[b]ased on its financial condition, Innospec offered to pay a reduced criminal fine of $14.1 million to the DOJ and a criminal fine of $12.7 million to the SFO. Innospec will pay $2.2 million to OFAC for unrelated conduct concerning allegations of violations of the Cuban Assets Control Regulations."

In other words, Innospec got a pass on approximately $50 million.

This occured on March 18th.

Last week, Innospec announced (see here) it financial results for the first quarter ended March 31th (i.e. approximately two weeks from March 18th).

The results?

"Total net sales for the quarter were $163.5 million, up 10% from $148.1 million in the corresponding period last year. Net income was $7.4 million, or $0.30 per diluted share, a 16% increase from $6.4 million, or $0.26 per diluted share, a year ago. EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization and impairment) for the quarter was $15.4 million, compared with $16.0 million a year ago."

"As of March 31, 2010, Innospec had $67.5 million in cash and cash equivalents, $22.5million more than its total debt of $45.0 million."

Innospec's President and Chief Executive Officer stated, "we are very pleased with our first quarter operating results ...".

I am a lawyer by training, not a finance professional.

So forgive me, but I am scratching my head over this one.

March 18th - Innospec gets a pass on $50 million in an FCPA case because of its financial condition.

March 31st - Innospec reports positive financial results, including $67.5 in cash and cash equivalents.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Some items of interest to pass along.

The Business Case for Fighting Bribery and Corruption

Principles for Responsible Investment, a coalition of investor groups that collectively manage over $1.7 trillion in assets, recently wrote to "21 major companies in 14 countries asking them to improve their disclosure of bribery and corruption risks and avoidance measures." For more information see here.

Upcoming Events

Hungry for more information on the FCPA and related topics? Mark your calendar for these upcoming events.

"Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) Overview 2010: Enforcement and Compliance Strategies" - May 18th - Winston & Strawn (see here).

"The Role of HR in FCPA Compliance and Ethics" - May 18th - Thomas Fox (see here).

"The Implications of the UK Bribery Bill: Preparing for a New Era of Enforcement" - May 18th - Steptoe & Johnson (see here).

"A Focus on FCPA Investigations" - May 25th - Morgan Lewis (see here).

"Corruption: The New Global Landscape" - June 10th, June 25th - Venable and Field Fisher Waterhouse (see here).

"The Bribery Racket" - Additional Commentary

A previous post (see here) covers Nathan Vardi's "The Bribery Racket" piece in the current issue of Forbes. For additional commentary see here from Mary Jacoby at Main Justice.

SEC Seeking "Corporate Intelligence Specialist"

Have what it takes to join the SEC's new FCPA unit? See here to find out.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Africa Sting - Will Economic Realities Result in Additional Pleas?

The Africa Sting case (see here for numerous prior posts) is best known as the largest undercover sting operation in FCPA history.

The sting operation resulted in lots of video recordings, telephone recordings, documents and search warrant material.

According to a recent DOJ discovery filing (see here) the following, among other things, have been turned over to defense counsel:

"615 audio and video recordings of more than 150 meetings;"

"5,287 recorded telephone calls between the defendants and the cooperating witness, identified as Individual 1 in the indictments, and between the defendants and undercover FBI agents;"

"recordings of telephone calls between Individual 1 and FBI agents;"

"certain calls, approximately a minute or less in length, recorded in connection with the undercover investigation;"

"in excess of 5,000 pages of documents relating to Individual 1, including reports, expense paperwork, bank statements, quotes, emails, notes, drug tests results, payment receipts, and Skype text messages, among others;"

"emails from the accounts of Individual 1 and the undercover FBI agents;"

"nearly 3,000 pages of text messages from the telephone Individual 1 used in connection with the undercover operation;"

"documents related to the undercover investigation that are not directly related to Individual 1, including case administration documents, FBI reports, bank records, product information, and search warrant materials;" and

"materials seized during the 13 search warrants executed in connection with the undercover investigation relating to the defendants" including a total of "approximately 242,000 pages of documents," "electronic media, including desktop computers, laptop computers, USB drives, zip discs, memory cards and DVDs, among other items, seized during the searches," and "photographs taken in connection with the search warrants and logs of those photographs, as well as search diagrams and seizure inventories."

The government had vast resources at its disposal in conducting the sting and continues to have vast resources at its disposal in prosecuting the case.

The defendants do not.

Another distinguishing feature of the Africa Sting case is that it involves many small-business owners.

The lawyers for the Africa Sting defendants have a duty to competently represent their clients.

That means the lawyers will have to review all of the above-referenced material (as well as other material) to better understand the facts of the case and their client's exposure.

That is going to be very expensive. And all this is required before "active" lawyering (i.e. motions to dismiss, etc.) even begins.

Some will say, well, the Africa Sting defendants should have thought about this before (allegedly) violating the law.

Others will say, this case points out the difficulties of litigating against a DOJ with vast resources.

Will the economic realities of this situation lead to more plea deals over the summer?

Will the cost of testing an innocence claim simply be too high such that additional defendants may raise the "white flag" of surrender? If so, is it because the defendants are guilty of the crimes charged, or because of the economic realities of the situation?


For the latest Main Justice update on the Africa Sting case (see here).

Monday, May 10, 2010

Breuer - Siemens Investigation (As to Individuals) Remains Open

Last week, Lanny Breuer (Assistant Attorney General - Criminal Division) testified before The Criminal Law Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee. During his Q&A exchange with Senator Arlen Specter, Breuer stated that "individuals, executives and others who were involved [in the Siemens bribery scandal], remain exposed and the matter is not closed."

Why was Specter asking Breuer about the Siemens enforcement action?

A bit of background.

In December 2008, right in time for the holidays, the DOJ put a nice "bribery, yet no bribery" bow on the Siemens enforcement action.

According to the DOJ, for much of Siemens operations around the world "bribery was nothing less than standard operating procedure." The egregious nature of Siemens conduct is set forth in the criminal information (see here).

Among other allegations, the information details how Siemens paid out, through various mechanisms, $805.5 million in “corrupt payments to foreign officials” including: (i) payments made by various subsidiaries, including those with offices in the U.S., to “purported business consultants, knowing that at least some or all of those funds would be passed along to foreign government officials;” (ii) money withdraw from “cash desks within Siemens’ offices” for “corrupt payments;” and (iii) “slush funds to generate cash for corrupt payments.”

As to the amount of business Siemens obtained or retained through these corrupt payments, the DOJ’s sentencing memorandum (see here) states that calculating a traditional loss figure under the Sentencing Guidelines “would be overly burdensome, if not impossible” given the “literally thousands of contracts over many years.”

Yet, Siemens was not charged with violating the FCPA's anti-bribery provisions.

That would have hurt too much, a point made in the DOJ's sentencing memorandum which notes that a key factor the DOJ considered in resolving the case against Siemens in the way it did was the “collateral consequences” that could have resulted from criminal antibribery charges including the “risk of debarment and exclusion from government contracts.”

All of this troubled Senator Specter who has "long been concerned about the acceptance of fines instead of jail sentences in egregious cases." (see here). In a release, Senator Specter notes that "there are many illustrative cases but three will suffice to make the point. In each of these cases, I registered my complaint with the Department of Justice."

One such case was the Siemens enforcement action.

As Senator Specter's release notes:

"On December 15, 2008, Siemens AG entered guilty pleas to violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and agreed to pay $1.6 billion in fines, penalties and disgorgements with no jail sentences. Again, that amounts to a calculation as part of the cost of doing business for a company which had revenues of $104 billion and a net income of $2.5 billion in fiscal year 2008 after the penalty."

Thus, the reason Senator Specter questioned Breuer about the Siemens enforcement action during last week's hearing.

Set forth below is the exchange.


SPECTER: Are you familiar with the Siemens prosecution, Mr. Breuer?

BREUER: I am, Senator, to a degree, I am familiar with the Siemens prosecution.

SPECTER: Well, that's a -- that's a case where Siemens, according to the information provided to me, agreed to pay a total criminal fine of $450 million and a disgorgement of $350 million in profits. And nobody went to jail. Siemens' income, according to the information I have, was $104 billion, and income in excess or approximately $2.5 billion in fiscal year 2008. Did that conviction arise during the course of the current administration?

BREUER: It did, Senator. It was in -- it did, Mr. Chairman. It was an ongoing investigation. And you're right. Let me just add a little to what you say. First, Siemens, its total monetary penalties were actually $1.6 billion. That would include both from the U.S. and in Germany. The company was incredibly cooperative and very, very -- very, very helpful in the information it provided over an extensive period. In making Siemens' plea, we made it as an absolute explicit provision that there was absolutely no protection for any of the individuals of Siemens, and therefore the individuals, executives and others who were involved, remain exposed and the matter is not closed. The matter -- simply all that we have done is have a plea against the corporation, we have not closed out nor have we claimed to have closed out investigations with respect to individuals. They're ongoing. And, Mr. Chairman, I agree with you, I think the hallmark of an effective criminal justice plan must be that we will prosecute individuals when appropriate and ongoing. And I should say in that vein, Mr. Chairman, just two weeks ago we received the longest sentence in an FCPA case in the history of the FCPA when we attained an 87-month sentence against a fellow who had violated and was convicted of the FCPA. So we will continue to pursue that.

SPECTER: Well, you are saying that even though the case was concluded against the corporation that the matter is ongoing as to the individuals. Ordinarily a case is wrapped up once and for all and that before a corporation will pay a fine they want to know that that's the limit of their liability.

BREUER: Right.

SPECTER: And there's obviously a motivation to not have a jail sentence, for the corporation to pay a fine. And this morning we heard very extensive testimony -- not that it was surprising -- that fines are added into the cost of doing business. One testimony related to one defendant who paid $50 million and said if it had been a criminal prosecution he would have fought it to the teeth -- tooth and nail. But you are saying that you're really going to go after some people in this Siemens matter?

BREUER: Well, Mr. Chairman, what I'm saying is that I don't want to say whether we are or not, for the reasons that I know you understand well. But I will say is the following. We're not willing -- and you're absolutely right. Corporations do want to settle these cases. They do want to pay money, and they do want the assurance that the matters will be closed against the individuals of their company. We're not -- we're not going to -- we didn't allow that to happen in that case, and we won't let it happen, for the reasons you said. Now, in the Siemens case, I do want companies to feel an enormous incentive to come in and to disclose. And in Siemens, they did come in -- they did come in. They did disclose. And they provided us with an enormous amount of information. And so there was a real judgment that there was a real merit to having closure with respect to that and for the company to be rewarded for providing us with almost unparalleled cooperation.

SPECTER: Did you (inaudible) the prosecution before they made the disclosures?

BREUER: I don't think so, in that case. I think, Senator, I'll have to go back. That's a good question. So my -- my colleague is right. In this case, of course, one of the challenges that I was going to go into is, in this particular case, the prosecution began in Germany. And then we, of course, as we try now, more and more, to deal with the challenges we have, are working closely with our international colleagues and partners. That was the case where it began with the German prosecutors. And, of course, many of the individuals involved are in Europe. But there -- nonetheless, it began in Germany. The company -- we reached out, I believe. The company provided us with an enormous amount of information.

SPECTER: Mr. Breuer, what I'm getting at is, did they provide you with information after you already had the case?

BREUER: No. I mean, Mr. Chairman, in a case like this, these are very complicated cases. And this, of course, was a massive example of -- of violations of the FCPA in different countries. And so, there, there's no question that the law firm providing us, and Siemens providing us with information, were able to provide us with information that we would not have had but for them giving us the information. It was all over the world. Frankly, we would not have had the resources to have investigated to the degree that the company provided us the information. And so they did get a benefit for that. The benefit they got was certainty in their -- in the resolution of the corporate deal. What they did not get was closure for the individuals.


As the above exchange demonstrates, Senator Specter also seems troubled that Siemens received cooperation credit even though the credit came after the company was busted.

The DOJ's release (see here) states:

"The resolution of the U.S. criminal investigation of Siemens AG and its subsidiaries reflects, in large part, the actions of Siemens AG and its audit committee in disclosing potential FCPA violations to the Department after the Munich Public Prosecutor’s Office initiated searches of multiple Siemens AG offices and homes of Siemens AG employees." (emphasis added).

If Senator Specter is troubled by this aspect of the Siemens enforcement action, he may want to take a close look at the Daimler enforcement action as well.

Daimler, like Siemens, was another "bribery, yet no bribery" case as to the parent entity that orchestrated the bribery scheme (per the DOJ's own allegations). However, unlike Siemens, Daimler was not required to plead guilty to anything - it received a deferred prosecution agreement.

In arriving at a fine amount, Daimler, like Siemens, also received cooperation credit.

The DOJ's sentencing memorandum (see here) notes that Daimler received a sentencing credit (a credit which reduces the overall fine amount) because the "organization fully cooperated in the investigation and clearly demonstrated recognition and affirmative acceptance of responsibility for its criminal conduct."

This despite the fact that elsewhere in the sentencing memo the DOJ notes that the entire investigation started in March 2004 when a "former Daimler employee filed a whistleblower complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety & Health Administration ... allege[ing] that he was terminated for voicing concerns about Daimler's practice of maintaining secret accounts, including accounts in its own books and records, for the purpose of bribing foreign government officials."

In other words, even though the Daimler enforcement action was hatched by an internal whistleblower, the company still received a sentencing credit for cooperating in the eventual investigation.

The sentencing range set forth in the DOJ memo is $116 - $232 million.

The ultimate $93.6 million DOJ penalty was 20% below the bottom fine range of $116 million.

DOJ justified this reduction by stating that such a "reduction is appropriate given the nature and extent of Daimler's cooperation in this matter, including sharing information with the Department regarding evidence obtained as a result of Daimler's extensive investigation of corrupt payments around the world."

The DOJ further stated, "indeed, because Daimler did not voluntarily disclose its conduct prior to the filing of the whistleblower lawsuit, it only receives a two-point reduction in its culpability." However, in a rather odd statement, DOJ then said that it "respectfully submits that such reduction is incongruent with the level of cooperation and assistance provided by the company in the Department's investigation."

In other words, Daimler, like Siemens, received cooperation credit even though disclosure of the conduct at issue was involuntarily. Also, the DOJ gave Daimler cooperation credit greater than that allowed under the guidelines.

In conclusion, the DOJ noted that the disposition "promotes respect for the law, provides just punishment, and affords adequate deterrence to criminal conduct for Daimler and the marketplace generally."


Mr. Breuer had a busy week last week (see here for a prior post). During his Council of Foreign Relations speech, Breuer was asked about some of the DOJ's "old cases." See here for the Main Justice story and his response.

Friday, May 7, 2010

In The News

The SEC Goes Searching

Last August (see here) when Robert Khuzami, the SEC's Director of the Division of Enforcement, announced that the SEC would be creating a specialized FCPA unit he said, among other things, that:

"The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act unit will focus on new and proactive approaches to identifying violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practice Act..."

In February, Cheryl Scarboro (the head of the SEC's FCPA Unit) similarly stated (here) that "the new unit will give us the resources and the ability to do even more going forward," that the new unit will allow the SEC to do more industry investigations, and that one industry the SEC is focusing on is the pharmaceutical industry.

Given these comments, it should come as no surprise that a recent Wall Street Journal article notes that the SEC enforcement division sent letters "within the past two months" to several companies in the pharmaceutical and energy industries" "as part of an investigation by the SEC division that looks into potential violations of the FCPA." According to the article, the letters ask the companies "about their internal controls to guard against bribery" specifically in terrorism-sponsor states such as Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria. According to the article, "it isn't clear which companies received the letters." The article also notes that "the SEC probe, which is in its early stages, comes as the Justice Department's criminal fraud section has sent letters in recent weeks to a number of pharmaceutical companies asking about payments made to foreign officials in several nations..." Both the SEC and DOJ declined to comment for the article.

Bribes for Books

A post earlier this week talked about the World Bank and other multilateral development banks (see here).

Fitting because recently the World Bank (see here) "debarred Macmillan Limited, a U.K. company, declaring the company ineligible to be awarded Bank-financed contracts for a period of six years in the wake of the company’s admission of bribery payments relating to a Trust Fund-supported education project in Southern Sudan." According to the release, "the debarment can be reduced to three years subject to continued cooperation."

In a press release yesterday (see here), the company said "the international publishing business, Macmillan Publishers Ltd UK (“Macmillan”), has today confirmed that it has voluntarily referred to the Serious Fraud Office its concerns over historic payments made by a subsidiary of its education business, Macmillan Education, to secure a contract in Southern Sudan."

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Bribery Racket

Those are the words on the cover of the current issue of Forbes Magazine.

The feature article (here) by Nathan Vardi is "How Federal Crackdown on Bribery Hurts Business And Enriches Insiders."

Given my soon to be published piece, "The Facade of FCPA Enforcement" and my other comments on FCPA Inc., the FCPA's revolving door, voluntary disclosure and the role of FCPA counsel, etc. (see here, here, here and here), Vardi's article resonates with me, and perhaps with you as well.

Below are a few snippets from Vardi's article:

"[FCPA is" nice work if you can get it--and to the tune of billions of dollars, lawyers, accountants and consultants, many with past ties to the Justice Department, are getting it. In the last few years, as the feds cranked up enforcement of the 33-year-old Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a thriving and lucrative anti-bribery complex has emerged. Whether it's having any impact on reducing bribery is another matter. Instead, companies can find themselves getting extorted in foreign lands, only to get extorted again by Washington. It works generally like this: A company that suspects bribery overseas hires a battery of lawyers, accountants and investigators who may then report any findings to Justice in hopes of some undefined leniency. More likely, the company pays out huge fines and then hires more lawyers as government-mandated compliance monitors, a job that can stretch into years of legal billing."

"This is good business for law firms," says Joseph Covington, who headed the Justice Department's FCPA efforts in the 1980s and is now codirector of white-collar defense at Jenner & Block. "This is good business for accounting firms, it's good business for consulting firms, the media--and Justice Department lawyers who create the marketplace and then get yourself a job."

"[Mark] Mendelsohn declines to comment on his new job other than to note that it is routine for lawyers who leave the Justice Department to do white-collar defense work for corporations." (For more on Mendelsohn see here and here)

"What are these prosecutors accomplishing? Maybe they are fighting for truth and justice. Maybe, that is, it makes sense for the U.S. to hold its corporations to a higher standard of integrity than the French or Chinese outfits they compete against when trying to win business abroad. The prosecutors, though, are doing something else at the same time. They are creating a lucrative industry--FCPA defense work--in which they will someday be prime candidates for the cushy assignments. A former prosecutor, to be sure, does not work on the defense of the same case he had as a government lawyer. But there is nothing to stop prosecutors from ginning up cases that will feed the lawyers who used to have their jobs or from looking forward to a payday in the private sector that will be made possible by their busy successors at Justice."

"Many of the 150 pending cases will probably end with so-called deferred prosecution agreements. These involve the government threatening to bring an indictment against a company--which could effectively put the firm out of business--unless it agrees to adhere to certain practices. This hammer gives the feds immense power--for one thing, they don't have to prove their legal theories of bribery in court." (For more on non-prosecution and deferred prosecution agreements and the FCPA see here).

"The scope of things companies have to worry about is enlarging all the time as the government asserts violations in circumstances where it's unclear if they would prevail in court," says Lucinda Low, who has helped companies deal with the FCPA for years. "You don't have the checks and balances you would normally have if you had more litigation."

"The FCPA provides moneymaking opportunities even after a case is resolved. Following settlements the Justice Department often requires companies to hire a compliance monitor, whose job is to review a company's continuing anti-bribery efforts. It seems that an important qualification for these gigs is having previously worked at the Justice Department--as 7 of the 13 FCPA monitors have done. When it came time for Daimler to pick a government-mandated compliance monitor for three years, the company hired former fbi director Louis Freeh." (For more see here and here).

Vardi also discusses the recent NATCO matter (see here) - a case that resulted in a $65,000 SEC civil monetary penalty. Vardi states, "Natco reported the issue to the government and paid outside lawyers and accountants $11 million to investigate, causing Natco cash-flow problems." (For additional voluntary disclosure cases that have seemingly gotten out-of-hand see here).

There's alot in Vardi's article.

So, what do you think?

As always, comments (even if anonymous) are welcome.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

As We Say, Not Necessarily As We Do

Yesterday Lanny Breuer (Assistant Attorney General - Criminal Division) spoke before the Council on Foreign Relations. The title of his speech (see here) was "International Criminal Law Enforcement: Rule of Law, Anti-Corruption and Beyond."

Breuer begins, "I am pleased to be able to share with you today how the Criminal Division seeks to promote the Rule of Law in our increasingly global society." Breuer notes that "perhaps in no area has the Criminal Division's" approach "had more dramatic results for the international Rule of Law than in that of corruption."

Breuer then sketches a brief history of the FCPA and notes that "when the U.S. enacted the [FCPA] in 1977, and as recently as the 1990's, some developed countries continued to argue that a certain amount of corruption might be desirable in developing nations; and it has been only in the last decade that some developed countries have eliminated tax deductions for foreign corrupt practices."

On this point, I fully agree that the DOJ is the undeniable leader in prosecuting bribery and corruption, and for this, it deserves credit.

Breuer then "spreads the FCPA gospel" (as Christopher Matthews at Main Justice recently termed it - see here).

Verses included: the "increased emphasis on charging individuals is part of a deliberate enforcement strategy to deter and prevent corrupt practices in the future;" "gone are the days when we relied solely on tips from whistle-blowers to build cases - instead we are now bringing the tools of organized crime investigations to white collar investigations."

The speech ends - "I would welcome any questions you might have."

I've got some questions.

During Breuer's tenure, two signature enforcement actions were the BAE and Daimler bribery, yet no bribery enforcement actions (see here and here for prior posts).

In both actions, the DOJ alleged facts sufficient to charge the companies with FCPA anti-bribery violations. Yet in both cases, no anti-bribery violations were charged.

Included in the Rule of Law is the notion that the law is to be applied equally to all subject to the law. Under the Rule of Law, certain companies in certain industries who may sell certain products to certain customers are not immune from the law.

Yet, in the eyes of many, the BAE and Daimler enforcement actions stand for the proposition that certain companies are indeed "above" the FCPA and essentially immune from FCPA anti-bribery charges.

So, my questions are:

How was the Rule of Law advanced in the BAE and Daimler enforcement actions?

How was the Rule of Law advanced when a company (BAE) that “provided support services to [a Saudi official] while in the territory of the U.S.” including “ the purchase of travel and accommodations, security services, real estate, automobiles and personal items” (these are the DOJ's words) is not charged with FCPA anti-violations? [Particularly when the DOJ alleges that over $5 million in invoices for benefits provided to the Saudi official were submitted by just one BAE employee during a one year period.]

How was the Rule of Law advanced when a company (Daimler) that "engaged in a long-standing practice of paying bribes to 'foreign officials'" (these are the DOJ's words) is not required to plead guilty to anything?

As noted above, the DOJ is the undeniable leader in prosecuting bribery and corruption, and for this, it deserves credit. However, with leadership comes responsibility and accountability.

When preaching, the preacher is subject to criticism, particularly when urging his parishioners to do as he says, not necessarily as he does.

The DOJ did some FCPA / Rule of Law preaching yesterday.

For extolling the virtues of the Rule of Law in the face of several recent high-profile examples where Rule of Law principles were seemingly ignored, the DOJ has set itself up for criticism.