Thursday, June 30, 2011

Report Cards

Imagine I give a test to the 37 students in my class. However, because of reasons uniquely relevant to many of the students, not all students are equally capable of passing the test.

I hope all would view this test to be a bit empty.

This post summarizes the OECD Working Group on Bribery Annual Report and Transparency International's Annual Progress Report of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.

For reasons discussed below, these two report cards suffer from the same dynamic described in the above hypothetical.

In many OECD member countries there is no such thing as corporate criminal liability - or even if there is - such corporate liability can only be based on the actions of high-ranking executives or officers. This of course is materially different than in the U.S. where, under respondeat superior principles, a business organization can face legal liability (civil and criminal) based on the actions of any employee to the extent the employee was acting within the scope of his or her duties and to the extent the conduct was intended to benefit, at least in part, the organization.

In most OECD member countries prosecuting authorities have two choices - to prosecute or not to prosecute - there is no such thing as non-prosecution or deferred prosecution agreements (NPAs/DPAs). Not so in the U.S. where the majority of these alternative resolution vehicles are used to resolve FCPA enforcement actions. As the OECD itself stated in its Phase 3 Report of U.S. enforcement of the FCPA - "it seems quite clear that the use of these agreements is one of the reasons for the impressive FCPA enforcement record in the U.S." (See here for the prior post). Former DOJ FCPA enforcement chief Mark Mendelsohn was asked directly – if the DOJ “did not have the choice of deferred or non prosecution agreements, what would happen to the number of FCPA settlements every year,” and he stated as follows: “if the Department only had the option of bringing a criminal case or declining to bring a case, you would certainly bring fewer cases.”

In certain other OECD member countries, there is a compliance defense relevant to the prosecution of bribery and corruption offenses. (See here for the prior post).

Given these differing dynamics (among others), it is fairly obvious why OECD member countries have varying degrees of enforcement of bribery and corruption offenses.

With that in mind, on to the report cards.

Transparency International Progress Report 2011 - Enforcement of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention

On May 24th, Transparency International (TI) released (here) its seventh annual Progress Report on Enforcement of the OECD Convention.

The report "shows no improvement in the enforcement of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention in the past year and warns that this could signal a dangerous loss of momentum in the fight against corruption."

The report covers 37 countries and "shows that there are still only seven countries with active enforcement, nine with moderate enforcement, and 21 with little or no enforcement." Huguette Labelle, Chair of TI, stated that "the collective commitment to stamp out foreign bribery made by all OECD parties is undermined when a large number of countries have inadequate enforcement."

The introduction of the report includes the following statement.

"Continued lack of enforcement in 21 countries a decade after the Convention entered into force, notwithstanding repeated OECD reviews, clearly indicates lack of political commitment by their governments. And in some of those with moderate enforcement, the level of commitment is also uncertain. This is a danger signal because the OECD Convention depends on the collective commitment of all parties to ending foreign bribery."

The reports "major conclusions" include the following: "risk of loss of momentum" and "lack of political commitment."

As to the former, the report states as follows. "The Convention has not yet reached the point at which the prohibition of foreign bribery is consistently enforced. With little or no enforcement by half of the signatory governments, backsliding by enforcing governments is a serious threat. This concern is aggravated in a troubled global economy in which companies are scrambling for business. Business organisations have increasingly criticised anti-bribery enforcement as a competitive obstacle. The present position of the Convention is unstable, and unless forward momentum is recovered, the progress made in the past decade could unravel."

As to the "lack of political commitment", the report states as follows. "Reviews conducted by TI experts indicate that the principal cause of lagging enforcement is lack of political commitment by government leaders. In countries where there is committed political leadership, the OECD’s rigorous monitoring programme has helped improve laws and enforcement programmes. However, in the absence of political will, even repeated OECD reviews have little effect."

Once again, Canada received a public lashing from TI.

Under the heading "lack of progress in Canada," the report states as follows. "Canada is the only G7 country in the little or no enforcement category, and has been in this category since the first edition of this report in 2005. It is also the only OECD member that does not provide nationality jurisdiction, which presents a serious obstacle to enforcement. [...] TI welcomes that the government of Canada has publicly reported the number of investigations for the first time. It is promising that 23 foreign bribery investigations are under way. If these investigations lead to prosecutions, Canada may finally move out of the little or no enforcement category." (A future post will summarize the recent Canadian enforcement action against Niko Resources).

TI's 2010 report (see here for the prior post) included reference to many big picture enforcement issues such as the use of negotiated settlements (NPAs and DPAs), judicial scrutiny of enforcement actions, and the proper amount of fines and penalties. However, TI's 2011 report was silent as to many big picture issues.

OECD Working Group on Bribery Annual Report

On April 20th, the OECD Working Group on Bribery released its annual report (here). The release (here) states as follows. "Most governments are not meeting their international commitments to clamp down on bribery and corruption in international business, with only five signatories to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention having sanctioned individuals or companies in the past year."

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Compliance Defense Around The World

As highlighted in this prior post, numerous FCPA reform bills in the 1980's included a specific defense which stated a company would not be held vicariously liable for a violation of the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions by its employees or agents, who were not an officer or director, if the company established procedures reasonably designed to prevent and detect FCPA violations by employees and agents. An FCPA reform bill containing such a provision did pass the U.S. House, but was not enacted into law.

Amending the FCPA to include a compliance defense is one of the U.S. Chamber's FCPA reform proposals (see here). In November 2010, Andrew Weissman, on behalf of the Chamber, testified in favor of a compliance defense (and other reform proposals) during the Senate's FCPA hearing (see here for the prior post) and during the House hearing earlier this month (see here for the prior post), former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, on behalf of the Chamber, also testified in favor of a compliance defense (and other reform proposals).

During the House hearing, there appeared to be bi-partisan support for consideration of an FCPA compliance defense.

Even so, Greg Andres, testifying on behalf of the DOJ, stated that a potential FCPA compliance defense was "novel and risky" and that the "time is not right to consider it."

Public debate on a potential compliance defense has thus far focused, from a comparative standpoint, on the United Kingdom and Italy.

The purpose of this post is to further inform the public debate on a potential compliance defense by highlighting various compliance-like defenses around the world in other countries that are signatories (like the U.S.) to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.

This post is further to my work in progress - Revisiting an FCPA Compliance Defense - and represents hours of research analyzing 38 OECD Country Reports.

The post provides an overview of compliance-like defenses in the following OECD Convention signatory countries: Australia, Chile, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Korea, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, and Switzerland. [The U.K. Bribery Act, set to go live on July 1st, also contains a compliance-like defense in Section 7].

A first reaction might be - only 12 of the 38 OECD member countries have a compliance-like defense.

However, this number must be viewed against the backdrop of the following dynamics: (i) in many OECD Convention signatory countries, the concept of legal person criminal liability (as opposed to natural person criminal liability) is non-existent; and (ii) in many OECD Convention signatory countries that do have legal person criminal liability, such legal person liability can only result from the actions of high-level executive personnel or other so-called "controlling minds" of the legal person.

Obviously if a foreign country does not provide for legal person liability, there is no need for a compliance defense, and the rationale for a compliance defense is less compelling if legal exposure can result only from the conduct of high-level executive personnel or other "controlling minds."

When properly viewed against these dynamics, a compliance-like defense (whether specifically part of a foreign country's "FCPA-like" law or otherwise generally part of a foreign country's legal principles) is far from a "novel" idea, but rather common among OECD Anti-Bribery Convention signatory countries that - like the U.S. - have legal person criminal liability that can attach based on the conduct of non-executive officers or other "controlling minds."

[The below information is based strictly on OECD country reports and is subject to the qualification that in many instances the most recent information concerning a particular country may be several years old. If anyone has more recent information concerning any particular country, how the compliance defense in a particular country has worked in practice, or any other relevant information, please leave a comment on this site or contact me at]



Australian law implementing the OECD Convention entered into force on December 18, 1999.

Thereafter, a section of the Criminal Code on corporate criminal liability came into full force establishing an organizational model for the liability of legal persons. “Bodies corporate” are liable for offences committed by “an employee, agent or officer of a body corporate acting within the actual or apparent scope of his or her employment, or within his or her actual or apparent authority” where the body corporate “expressly, tacitly, or impliedly authorised or permitted the commission of the offence”.

Pursuant to the Criminal Code, authorisation or permission by the body corporate may be established in the following ways: (1) the board of directors intentionally, knowingly or recklessly carried out the conduct, or expressly, tacitly or impliedly authorised or permitted it to occur; (2) a high managerial agent intentionally, knowingly or recklessly carried out the conduct, or expressly, tacitly or impliedly authorised or permitted it to occur; (3) a corporate culture existed that directed, encouraged, tolerated or led to the offence; or (4) the body corporate failed to create and maintain a corporate culture that required compliance with the relevant provision.

However, under the Criminal Code, “if a high managerial agent is directly or indirectly involved in the conduct, no offence is committed where the body corporate proves that it “exercised due diligence to prevent the conduct, or the authorisation or permission."


Chilean law implementing the OECD Convention entered into force on October 8, 2002.

In December 2009, a separate Chilean law entered into force establishing criminal responsibility of legal persons for a limited list of offences including bribery of foreign public officials.

In order for a legal person to be held responsible for a foreign bribery offence, the following “three cumulative requirements” must be satisfied: (1) the offence must be committed by a person acting as a representative, director or manager, a person exercising powers of administration or supervision, or a person under the “direction or supervision” of one of the aforementioned persons; (2) the offence must be committed for the direct and immediate benefit or interest of the legal entity. No offence is committed where the natural person commits the offence exclusively in his/her own interest or in the interest of a third party; and (3) the offence must have been made possible as a consequence of a failure of the legal entity to comply with its duties of management and supervision. An entity will have failed to comply with its duties if it violates the obligation to implement a model for the prevention of offences, or when having implemented the model, it was insufficient."

As to the final element, the OECD report states as follows. “The final cumulative requirement for responsibility stresses that the offence must have been made possible as a consequence of the failure of the legal person to comply with its duties of administration and supervision. The entity will have failed to comply with its duties if it violated the obligation to implement a model for the prevention of offences, or when having implemented the model, the latter was insufficient. It shall be considered that the functions of direction and supervision have been met if, before the commission of the offense, the legal person had adopted and implemented organization, administration and supervision models, pursuant to the following article, to prevent such offenses as the one committed.”

The minimum features of a prevention system under the law are as follows: identify the different activities or processes of the entity, whether habitual or sporadic, in whose context the risk of commission of the offences emerges or increases; establish protocols, rules and procedures that permit persons involved in above-mentioned activities or processes to program and implement their tasks or functions in a manner that prevents the commission of the indicated offences; identify procedures for the administration and auditing that allow the entity to impede their use in the listed offences; establish internal administrative sanctions, as well as procedures for reporting or pursuing pecuniary responsibility against persons who violate the prevention system; introduce the above-mentioned duties, prohibitions and sanctions into the internal regulations of the legal person, and ensure that they are known by all persons bound to apply it (workers, employees, and service providers).

The OECD report states - as to the minimum requirements as follows. “It also aims to introduce a system of self-regulation by companies. Having a code of conduct on paper will not be sufficient to avoid responsibility. If prosecutors can prove that the code does not meet the minimum requirements of or that it is not implemented, the company can be responsible for the offence.”

Under Chilean law, “the failure to comply with duties of management and supervision is an element of the offence rather than a defence. Therefore the burden of proof lies on prosecutors, i.e. it will be up to prosecutors to prove that the entity failed to comply with its duties of management and supervision.”

The OECD report notes as follows. “This will require prosecutors to prove that the company failed in the design and/or implementation of the offense prevention model including why, in the circumstances, the prevention model was insufficient. This would appear to also require the prosecutor to establish that this failure made perpetration of the offence possible.”

As noted in the OECD report, the Chilean “standard of liability is inspired from the Italian system of liability of legal persons" (discussed below).


German law implementing the OECD Convention entered into force on February 15, 1999.

German law establishes the liability of legal persons, including liability for the foreign bribery offence, under an administrative (i.e. non-criminal form) act.

Pursuant to the administrative act, “the liability of legal persons is triggered where any “responsible person” (which includes a broad range of senior managerial stakeholders and not only an authorised representative or manager), acting for the management of the entity commits i) a criminal offence including bribery; or ii) an administrative offence including a violation of supervisory duties which either violates duties of the legal entity, or by which the legal entity gained or was supposed to gain a “profit”.”

As noted in the OECD report, “in other words, Germany enables corporations to be imputed with offences i) by senior managers, and, somewhat indirectly, ii) with offences by lower level personnel which result from a failure by a senior corporate figure to faithfully discharge his/her duties of supervision.”

The OECD report states that the “standards for a violation of supervisory duties include consideration of factors such as whether the company has in place a monitoring system or in-house regulations for employees.”


Hungarian law implementing the OECD Convention entered into force on March 1, 1999.

In 2004, a separate law was enacted specifying the individuals whose actions can trigger the liability of the legal person.

The OECD report states as follows. “The specific persons and additional conditions for liability are defined as follows: (i) the bribery is committed by one of the members or officers [of the legal entity] entitled to manage or represent it, or a supervisory board member and/or their representatives acting within the legal scope of activity of the legal person ; (ii) the bribery is committed by one of the members of the legal entity or an employee acting within the legal scope of activity of the legal person provided the bribery could have been prevented by the chief executive fulfilling his supervisory or control obligations; and (iii) the bribery is committed by a third party individual, provided that the legal entity’s member or officer entitled to manage or represent the it had knowledge of the facts.”

According to the OECD report, the relevant law does not provide any guidance as to the necessary degree of supervision to avoid liability for bribery.


Italian law implementing the OECD Convention entered into force on October 26, 2000.

Under Italian law, “criminal liability cannot be attributed to legal persons” however, “administrative liability may be attributed to legal persons for certain criminal offences (including foreign bribery) committed by a natural person.

The relevant administrative decree provides a “defence of organisational models” to a body which makes reasonable efforts to prevent the commission of an offence.

The OECD report states as follows. “… [A] body is not liable for offences committed by persons in senior positions if it proves the following. First, before the offence was committed, the body’s management had adopted and effectively implemented an appropriate organisational and management model to prevent offences of the kind that has occurred. Second, the body had set up an autonomous organ to supervise, enforce and update the model. Third, this autonomous organ had sufficiently supervised the operation of the model. Fourth, the perpetrator committed the offence by fraudulently evading the operation of the model.” The defence of organisation models operates as a full defence which completely exculpates a legal person.

The relevant administrative decree stipulates the essential elements of an acceptable organisational model described in the OECD report as follows. “First, the model must identify activities which may give rise to offences. Second, the model must define procedures through which the body makes and implements decisions relating to the offences to be prevented. It must also prescribe procedures for managing financial resources to prevent offences from being committed. Third, the model must oblige the internal organ responsible for supervision and enforcement to provide information to the body. Finally, the model must include a disciplinary system for non-compliance.”


Japanese law implementing the OECD Convention entered into force on February 15, 1999 .

“Under Japanese law, criminal responsibility of a legal person is based on the principle that the company did not exercise due care in the supervision, selection, etc. of an officer or employee to prevent the culpable act.

The burden rests on the legal person to prove that due care was exercised. Where a legal person raises the defence, a person must be identified as having exercised due care, etc., and the court must determine whether it was exercised properly having regard to the nature of the legal person and the circumstances of the case.”


Korean law implementing the OECD Convention entered into force on February 15, 1999.

Korean law establishes the criminal responsibility of legal persons for the bribery of a foreign public official, however, a legal person is exempt from liability where it has paid “due attention” or exercised “proper supervision” to prevent the offence.

The statute itself does not provide information about what constitutes “due attention” or “proper supervision.” A representative of the Supreme Public Prosecutor’s Office informed the OECD that “the exemption is triggered when a director or ‘superior person’ exercises due attention.” The Explanatory Manual published by the Ministry of Justice states that “it is difficult to standardize the extent of attention or supervision in deciding whether a legal person can be exempted from criminal punishment.” The Explanatory Manual further states that whether the exemption applies depends upon “general circumstances such as the motive and background that led to the bribery, intervention of exclusive members of the legal person, whether it was informed earlier, and how much effort was usually made by the corporation to prevent bribery, etc.” and that companies involved in international business must prevent violations of the law by all employees and executives of the company “through sufficient necessary management”.


Polish law implementing the OECD Convention entered into force on February 4, 2001.

Polish law provides “a noncriminal form of responsibility for collective entities.” Among the requirements for liability is the offence was committed “in the effect of at least absence of due diligence in electing the natural person [committing the act] or of at least the absence of due supervision over this person by an authority or a representative of the collective entity.”

According to the relevant Polish legislative history, “the perpetration of a prohibited act by a natural person will trigger liability of the
collective entity where the act occurred as a result of negligence on the part of the authority or representative of the collective entity.”


Portuguese law implementing the OECD Convention entered into force on June 9, 2001.

Under Portuguese law relevant to corruption in international business transactions, legal persons can be liable for conduct committed “on their behalf and in the collective interest by natural persons occupying a leadership position within the legal person structure” or by “whoever acts under the authority” of such natural persons.

However, “[t]he liability of legal persons and equivalent entities is excluded when the actor has acted against the orders or express instructions of the person responsible.”


Swedish law implementing the OECD Convention entered into force on July 1, 1999.

Under Swedish Law, only natural persons can commit crimes. However, pursuant to the Swedish Penal Code, a “kind of quasi-criminal liability is applied to an ‘entrepreneur’ (a general term meaning “any natural or legal person that professionally runs a business of an economic nature) for a ‘crime committed in the exercise of business activities.’”

However, one requirement under the Penal Code is that “the entrepreneur has not done what could reasonable be required of him for prevention of the crime.”


Swiss law implementing the OECD Convention entered into force on May 1, 2000.

Article 100quater of the Swiss Criminal Code requires “defective organisation as a condition for corporate criminal liability.”

In order to incur criminal liability, “the enterprise must not have taken all reasonable and necessary organisational measures to prevent the individual from committing the offence.”

Under Swiss law, the burden is on the prosecutor to furnish proof of defective organization and according to Swiss authorities contacted by the OECD “steps should be taken to assess whether employees have been sufficiently informed, supervised and controlled” and “the fact that an enterprise is organised in compliance with international management standards will not be sufficient to rule out all liability on its part; it will be one element to take into consideration among others …”. In the view of Swiss authorities, “ shifting the burden of proof in criminal cases would contravene Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.”

Monday, June 27, 2011

Mission Creep At The SEC?

Today's post is from Bruce W. Bean (Professor and Director, LLM Program at Michigan State University College of Law - here).


Last week FCPA Professor had a post (see here) describing the SEC’s internal search for the new Head of the Division of Enforcement’s FCPA Unit.

As previously reported (see here), Cheryl Scarboro, Head of the Commission’s FCPA Unit, will shortly join the Washington, D.C. office of Simpson Thacher.

The internal SEC marketing materials for this position state that this “Unit seeks to expand the Commission's global reach in this area by executing targeted sweeps and sector-wide investigations, identifying systemic practices that give rise to potential FCPA violations and aggressively enforcing anti-bribery statutes.”

“[E]xpand the Commission’s global reach?” We do not find this concept in the FCPA. Nor is it in the original Securities Exchange Act that established the SEC. Has the Commission really run out of legitimate domestic prosecution targets? Does the Commission actually believe that, having long ignored stock manipulation by Wall Street traders (who can afford to mount a vigorous defense), it should declare victory in the domestic equities markets, shout “Mission Accomplished” and move on to police the rest of the world?

The most revealing aspect of this internal job posting for the new Head of the FCPA Enforcement Unit is this sentence, which encapsulates the SEC’s jurisdictional philosophy. "The Unit selects cases that present unique legal, evidentiary and policy challenges and attempts to develop case law and legal precedent that will have the greatest deterrent impact on conduct that violates the FCPA."

Certainly “unique legal, evidentiary and policy challenges” are presented each time we have the Commission stretch and distort the language of the FCPA as it “attempts to develop case law.” For example, there is no FCPA language supporting the determination that millions of Chinese employees at State-Owned Enterprises are “foreign officials.” Similarly, we search in vain for the statutory basis for FCPA liability for a foreign company whose foreign subsidiary committed an act which the prosecutor claims violates the FCPA.

This newly developed FCPA “case law,” of course, is largely created by the enforcement attorneys. (See here for a prior post on "prosecutorial common law"). It is seldom fully litigated before the Judicial Branch. After all, few defendants can afford to litigate against the Government, and those that could most often do not wish to risk “debarment” from doing further business with the Government until proven innocent.

FCPA enforcement has come to mean, “Let’s see just how far we can push the inherent ambiguities in the statute.” When that rare defendant does stand up and fight as in U.S. v. Giffen, we see a multi-year, multi-million dollar legal defense during which a Federal Court ultimately did not endorse the prosecutor’s attempt to “develop new case law."

Unquestionably, there is marvelous deterrent value when the SEC makes clear that it aggressively pursues FCPA violators. Prosecutors also find good value in high profile prosecutions, since this accelerates their passage through the SEC’s revolving door to much more lucrative private practice.

A closing note of warning. As outrageous as it may seem, the SEC’s jurisdictional and enforcement philosophy is comparatively good news. On Friday, July 1, the former Head of the Unit, Cheryl Scarboro, is likely to start at Simpson Thacher. That is also the date the U.K. Bribery Act comes into force. The Bribery Act actually does purport to give British prosecutors statutory authority to pursue bribery anywhere on the planet Earth. Stay tuned!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Breuer On The DOJ's "Comprehensive Approach To Fighting Corruption"

Last month, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer delivered the Franz-Hermann Brüner Memorial Lecture at the World Bank and focused his remarks on the DOJ Criminal Division's "comprehensive approach to fighting corruption." (See here for the transcript).

This post provides an overview of Breuer's remarks.


"Corruption corrodes the public trust in countries rich and poor, and has particularly negative effects on emerging economies. When a developing country’s public officials routinely abuse their power for personal gain, its people suffer tremendously. At a concrete level, roads are not built, schools lie in ruin, and basic public services go unprovided. At a more abstract, but no less important, level, political institutions lose legitimacy, threatening democratic stability and the rule of law, and people begin to lose hope that they will ever be able to improve their lot. As the President put it last week, you cannot reach your potential when you “cannot start a business without paying a bribe.”"

"There are of course many ways in which the U.S. government addresses the problem of corruption abroad. As the head of Criminal Division, I want to focus on three: our criminal prosecution efforts; our work to build the prosecutorial and law enforcement capacity of foreign nations; and our emerging focus on recovering and repatriating the proceeds of foreign official corruption."

As to criminal prosecution efforts, after highlighting recent corruption cases involving federal, state, and local officials, Breuer talked about the FCPA. He stated as follows.

"The FCPA was the first effort of any nation to specifically criminalize the act of bribing foreign officials. The statute was enacted in the wake of the Watergate scandal, which led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon in 1974 and resulted in a dramatic plunge in Americans’ overall trust in government."

"In 1976, following certain prosecutions for illegal use of corporate funds arising out of Watergate, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission issued a report in which it determined that foreign bribery by U.S. corporations was “serious and sufficiently widespread to be a cause for deep concern.” S.E.C. investigations revealed that hundreds of U.S. companies had made corrupt foreign payments involving hundreds of millions of dollars. With this background, the Senate concluded that there was a strong need for anti-bribery legislation in the United States. “Corporate bribery is bad business,” the Senate Banking Committee said in its report on the legislation. “In our free market system it is basic that the sale of products should take place on the basis of price, quality, and service. Corporate bribery is fundamentally destructive of this basic tenet.”"

"That was true then, and it’s true now. And over the two-plus years of this Administration, we have dramatically increased our enforcement of the FCPA. The numbers speak for themselves. In 2004, the Justice Department charged two individuals under the Act and collected around $11 million in criminal fines. In 2005, we charged five individuals and collected around $16½ million. By contrast, in 2009 and 2010 combined, we charged over 50 individuals and collected nearly $2 billion."

"And we are only moving forward. Earlier this month, we secured the first jury conviction ever against a corporation in an FCPA case. The case, which also resulted in trial verdicts against the company’s president and its CFO, involved a scheme to pay bribes to Mexican government officials at CFE, a state-owned utility company."

"Last week, the former CEO of a Miami-based telecommunications company pleaded guilty to conspiring to pay bribes to government officials in Honduras in connection with a scheme to secure contracts from Hondutel, the state-owned telecommunications authority. Last month, the former vice-president of sales for Europe, Africa, and the Middle East at the multi-national valve company Control Components Inc., or CCI, pleaded guilty to conspiring to bribe government officials in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and other countries."

" ... [T]he point is this: FCPA enforcement matters. When U.S. businesspersons, foreign executives, and even foreign officials know that they risk liability under the FCPA and related statutes, behavior changes. In addition to motivating U.S. and foreign corporations to change the way they do business – something that I believe is already happening – the threat of liability can help corporations resist corrupt demands from foreign officials, which can lead the officials themselves to alter their practices. Beyond that, through our FCPA enforcement, we are also sending a signal to ordinary people – [...] across the globe – that we stand with you: we support you in your desire to have fair and transparent institutions, and to have the chance to compete in marketplaces large and small."

As to the DOJ's "emerging focus on recovering and repatriating the proceeds of foreign official corruption," Breuer talked about the DOJ's "new Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative."

He stated as follows.

"The goal of the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, which Attorney General Holder announced last July and which my team and I have been working to build over the past year, is to identify the proceeds of foreign official corruption, forfeit them, and repatriate the recouped funds for the benefit of the people harmed."

"In the context of a criminal prosecution, a court can order forfeiture, upon conviction, as part of the defendant’s sentence. Thus, for example, if we were to bring a criminal case against a kleptocrat in the United States, we would be able to seek criminal forfeiture of his or her stolen assets."

"Often, however, it may be impractical or impossible to bring a criminal prosecution against a kleptocrat. He or she may be immune from prosecution, beyond the jurisdiction of the United States, or otherwise unavailable. In these circumstances, the Kleptocracy Team can bring a civil forfeiture action to recover the stolen property. This is sometimes referred to internationally as non-conviction based confiscation."

"The Kleptocracy Team recently brought its first cases, and we expect more to come in the near future. Let me provide a specific example. Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha, also known as DSP, was the elected governor of the oil-producing Bayelsa State in Nigeria from 1999 until his impeachment in 2005. According to court papers, DSP’s official salary for this entire period was approximately $81,000, and his declared income from all sources during the period was approximately $248,000. Nevertheless, as governor, DSP accumulated enormous wealth through corruption and other illegal activities. He acquired at least four properties in the United Kingdom worth approximately $8.8 million, he had money in bank accounts around the world, and he also acquired property in the United States. When he was ultimately arrested at Heathrow Airport in 2005, the Metropolitan Police Service in London found approximately $1.6 million in cash in his house."

"In March and April of this year, we brought two separate civil forfeiture actions to recover over $1,000,000 in what we allege are DSP’s ill-gotten gains. In Maryland, we are seeking forfeiture of a private residence worth more than $600,000, and in Massachusetts we are seeking forfeiture of close to $400,000 in a Fidelity brokerage account."

"We were able to bring these cases, even though DSP long ago absconded to Nigeria, because the law permits us to bring a civil action against the corrupt proceeds themselves rather than against the person to whom they belong."


A good weekend to all.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

What Does The SEC FCPA Unit Chief Do?

[The below post has been revised since first posted]

Wonder no longer.

Given Cheryl Scarboro's recently announced departure from the FCPA Unit Chief position (see here for the prior post), the SEC recently posted the opening for the position.

The "Major Duties" portion of the job posting is actually an interesting and informative read.

Want proof that the SEC executes "targeted sweeps and sector-wide investigations." It is in the job description.

The "Major Duties" section of the job posting states, in full, as follows.

"The Division of Enforcement assists the Commission in executing its law enforcement functions by, among other things, conducting investigations of possible violations of the federal securities laws, making recommendations to the Commission concerning enforcement actions and initiating and conducting administrative proceedings and civil actions arising out of its investigations. The Division of Enforcement's Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Unit operates on a nationwide basis, exercises the full range of the Division's investigative and law enforcement powers and focuses on actual and suspected violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (collectively, "FCPA") . The Unit is comprised of staff from the Division of Enforcement and Regional Offices. The principal functions of the Unit include developing and maintaining significant specialized knowledge and expertise in the identification and investigation of FCPA violations. Members of the Unit gain in-depth knowledge of industries and regional practices as they may relate to potential FCPA violations on a global basis. Over the course of its investigations, and from case-to-case, the Unit develops specialized insights and understanding of foreign business practices by U.S. and international public companies involving all manner of questionable payments (bribes, kickbacks, gratuitous payments etc.) involving foreign officials, U.S. and foreign executives and the agents and intermediaries through whom they may operate. The Unit seeks to expand the Commission's global reach in this area by executing targeted sweeps and sector-wide investigations, identifying systemic practices that give rise to potential FCPA violations and aggressively enforcing anti-bribery statutes. The Unit selects cases that present unique legal, evidentiary and policy challenges and attempts to develop case law and legal precedent that will have the greatest deterrent impact on conduct that violates the FCPA. Members of the Unit establish contacts and forge close relationships with foreign regulators and law enforcement authorities and US counterparts, including the U.S. Department of Justice and other federal and state regulatory authorities with interests in this area. The Unit communicates with staff throughout the Commission, the Division and regions and with other specialized units to disseminate information, share analysis, develop and distribute high quality enforcement leads and determine investigative strategies. The Unit performs risk assessment relating to areas within its specialty and communicates with the Division and other Commission offices and divisions concerning its findings. The Unit conducts regular and ongoing training for its staff, engages in public outreach and represents the Commission in industry meetings, conferences and other market-related events."

One has to reach far into FCPA history to discover an instance where the SEC was challenged in an adversary proceeding and put to its burden of proof in an FCPA case. Thus the following sentence from the job description was a bit amusing - "the Unit selects cases that present unique legal, evidentiary and policy challenges and attempts to develop case law and legal precedent that will have the greatest deterrent impact on conduct that violates the FCPA."

The position, only open to current SEC employees, has a pay range of $150,372 to $226,160.

However, the prestige of this position, the national and international platform it provides for speeches etc., and the knowledge and experience gained will allow the successful applicant (should he or she choose) a smooth transition into an FCPA private practice career at a major law firm and the ability to make several times the above salary range.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Summer Reading For Representative Conyers

During last week's FCPA hearing in the House, Representative John Conyers (D-MI) had a contentious Q&A exchange with Shana-Tara Regon (Director, White Collar Crime Policy, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers). See here for the previous post regarding the hearing.

Conyers asked - "give me some examples of overcriminalization of the FCPA." He repeatedly interrupted Regon and asked "just give me some examples" "give me an instance of where one case was ever brought by the DOJ that would constitute overcriminalization." Conyers stated, "only 140 cases have been brought in 10 years -that averages 14 cases a year - is that overcriminalization to you?" Regon stated that overcriminlization occurs when a statute provides no reasonable limits and that she is concerned more about prosecutions that may occur in the future more so than prosecutions that have already occurred.

There should be plenty of concern regarding prosecutions that have already occurred, but given the glare of the cameras, the stress of testifying, and the disruption of being interrupted, it would have been difficult for any witness to retrieve from their memory bank specific FCPA enforcement actions.

This post provides a summer reading list of FCPA enforcement actions, commentary and analysis, and legal scholarship for Representative Conyers so that he can best seek answers to the question he posed to Regon.

For starters, what does overcriminalization mean?

To be sure, it can mean different things to different people in different circumstances. In "The Overcriminalization Phenomenon(here) Eric Luna provides this definition - "the overcriminalization phenomenon consists of: (1) untenable offenses; (2) superfluous statutes; (3) doctrines that
overextend culpability; (4) crimes without jurisdictional authority; (5) grossly disproportionate punishments; and (6) excessive or pretextual enforcement of petty violations. In this piece, Jeffrey Parker (while observing that "definitions of “overcriminalization” are a bit fuzzy and debatable") identifies the following as among the factors that may contribute to overcriminalization: "the vague, arcane, or trivial nature of such prohibitions, as undermining citizens ability to conform, and debasing the moral moment of the criminal sanction" and "the lack of adequate mens rea standards in criminal prohibitions."

Not all overcriminalization factors are relevant to this "new era of FCPA enforcement" (see here), but in the minds of many, several factors are.

Enforcement Actions

In the 2011 Comverse Technologies enforcement action (see here), the company paid $2.8 million in combined fines and penalties (and no doubt millions more in connection with the investigative and resolution process) to resolve a matter in which the DOJ did not allege that the company even knew about the improper payments at issue. The action was resolved via a non-prosecution agreement meaning there was no judicial scrutiny of the DOJ's enforcement theory.

In the 2010 Alliance One International enforcement action (see here), the company paid approximately $20 million in combined fines and penalties (and millions more in connection with the investigative and resolution process) to resolve a matter in which it did absolutely nothing wrong. Rather, the entire DOJ enforcement action was based on a successor liability theory. Again, the action was resolved via a non-prosecution agreement meaning there was no judicial scrutiny of the DOJ's enforcement theory.

In the 2010 Noble Corporation enforcement action (see here), the company paid approximately $8 million in combined fines and penalties (and millions more in connection with the investigative and resolution process) to resolve a matter involving the import and export of goods into Nigeria. When Congress passed the FCPA, its intent as to so-called facilitating or grease payments was clear. Senate Report No. 95-114 (May 2, 1977) states, in pertinent part, as follows. “The statute does not […] cover so-called ‘grease’ payments such as payments for expediting shipments through customs ...". The relevant House Report (No. 95-640, September 28, 1977) similarly states as follows. “The language of the bill is deliberately cast in terms which differentiate between [corrupt payments] and facilitating payments, sometimes called ‘grease payments.’ […] For example, a gratuity paid to a customs official to speed the processing of a customs document would not be reached by this bill. Nor would it reach payments made to secure permits, licenses, or the expeditious performance of similar duties of an essentially ministerial or clerical nature which must of necessity be performed in any event. While payments made to assure or to speed the proper performance of a foreign official’s duties may be reprehensible in the United States, the committee recognizes that they are not necessarily so viewed elsewhere in the world and that it is not feasible for the United States to attempt unilaterally to eradicate all such payments." The Noble enforcement action was resolved via a non-prosecution agreement meaning, again, there was no judicial scrutiny of the DOJ's enforcement theory.

And then of course there is the issue of "foreign official" and the fact that most FCPA enforcement actions in this new era are based on alleged improper payments to employees of alleged state-owned or state-controlled enterprises ("SOEs") on the theory that such business entities are "instrumentalities" of a foreign government and thus all employees, regardless of rank or position, are "foreign officials" under the FCPA. Yet, (1) During its multi-year investigation of foreign corporate payments, Congress was aware of the existence of SOEs and that some of the questionable payments uncovered or disclosed may have involved such entities. (2) In certain of the bills introduced in Congress to address foreign corporate payments, the definition of “foreign government” expressly included SOE entities. These bills were introduced in both the Senate and the House during both the 94th and 95th Congress. (3) Despite being aware of SOEs and despite exhibiting a capability for drafting a definition that expressly included SOEs in other bills, Congress chose not to include such definitions or concepts in what ultimately become the FCPA in 1977. See here for extensive reading on this issue.

Commentary and Analysis

In 2010, Forbes ran a feature article (here) titled "The Bribery Racket" - "How Federal Crackdown on Bribery Hurts Business And Enriches Insiders." Lucinda Low, a respected FCPA practitioner, notes in the article that "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" and that "you don't have the checks and balances you would normally have if you had more litigation." Commenting on the current era of FCPA enforcement, Joseph Covington (who headed the DOJ's FCPA efforts in the 1980's) said that the current era "is good business for law firms [...] 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."

Here, Michael Levy (a former Assistant United States Attorney in the District of Columbia and law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr.) talks about what he calls prosecutorial common law. Levy states that "prosecutors don’t set out deliberately to interpret criminal statutes in ways that convict hundreds of people on the basis of a standard that not a single Supreme Court Justice finds supportable ...". Levy notes that "we have seen this before in connection with the interpretation of the honest services fraud and obstruction of justice statutes, and it is certainly happening today with the FCPA."

In this publication, an author group including Philip Urofsky (former Assistant Chief of the DOJ Fraud Section responsible for FCPA enforcement) and Danforth Newcomb (a dean of the FCPA bar) noted that in several recent FCPA enforcement actions "the theories used to hold parents accountable for the acts of subsidiaries and vice versa appear to be unclear." In other cases, the author group states that in many cases critical elements of the statute were not pleaded or were pled in a way "that is not consistent with established precedent and the language of the statute."

In a September 10, 2010 interview with the Corporate Crime Reporter, Mark Mendelsohn (the former head of DOJ FCPA enforcement during this era of resurgence who departed the DOJ for private practice in 2010) stated that "some of the factors" the DOJ uses to resolve FCPA cases are transparent, but "there are other factors less easy to see from the outside." Mendelsohn also noted, in connection with non-prosecution and deferred prosecution agreements (the common way FCPA enforcement actions are resolved) that the "danger" "is that it is tempting for the Department, or the SEC [to use these vehicles] to seek to resolve cases through DPAs or NPAs that don't actually constitute violations of the law."

In this Q&A exchange, Martin Weinstein (a former DOJ FCPA attorney who prosecuted the Lockheed case in the mid-1990's and is now a prominent FCPA practitioner) stated as follows. "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."

Legal Scholarship

In "Enthusiastic Enforcement, Informal Legislation: The Unruly Expansion of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act" (here), Amy Westbrook (Washburn University School of Law) argues that the recent "transformation of the FCPA has been brought about by ad hoc enforcement actions, rather than legislation, judicial decision, or regulation" and that "in the absence of formal process or reasoned articulation, the actual scope of the law is unclear."

In "The Facade of FCPA Enforcement" (here), I argue that "the FCPA often means what the enforcement agencies say it means" and that "even though the resolution vehicles typically used to resolve an FCPA enforcement action are not subject to judicial scrutiny and [thus] the vehicles do not necessarily reflect the triumph of the enforcement agencies’ theories, in the absence of substantive FCPA case law, these privately negotiated resolution vehicles have come to represent de facto FCPA case law" which breed "inefficient overcompliance by risk averse business actors fearful of enterprise - threatening liability because of the enforcement agencies’ untested and dubious theories."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Global Financial Integrity Responds

The goal of FCPA Professor (see here) is to foster a forum for critical analysis and discussion of the FCPA (and related topics) among FCPA practitioners, business and compliance professionals, scholars and students, and other interested persons.

With that goal in mind, I asked Heather A. Lowe, Esq. (Legal Counsel & Director of Government Affairs, Global Financial Integrity ("GFI")) to consider a guest post to respond to my criticism last week of certain of GFI's statements in connection with the House FCPA hearing (see here for the prior post).

I am glad she accepted and below is Ms. Lowe's guest post.

If other readers want to make their voice heard on the topic of FCPA reform as well, please consider FCPA Professor as a suitable forum.


I appreciate the invitation from Prof. Koehler to provide some comments on this forum as a guest blogger.

On June 14, 2011, Prof. Koehler commented (here) on documents provided by Global Financial Integrity and other civil society organizations and GFI’s press release (here) circulated on Monday, prior to the House of Representatives’ hearing on the FCPA. Additional arguments are included in GFI’s formal submission (here) for the record at the hearing. Karen Lissakers, Director of the Revenue Watch Institute, and Corinna Gilfillan, Head of U.S. Office at Global Witness, each provided statements (see here and here) for the hearing record as well. I am sure readers will find our full submissions to be of interest.

One of the primary reasons that GFI wanted to provide a submission for the hearing was to ensure that Members of Congress were aware that (a) businesses and the Department of Justice were not the only stakeholders with views to be considered in this discussion, (b) proposed changes to the FCPA must be considered within an international context, and any changes will have international implications, and (c) there are strong economic arguments for carefully considering changes to the FCPA that might lead to a reduction in enforcement.

Anti-bribery laws are not enacted in this world without years of blood, sweat and tears from anti-corruption campaigners around the world, and I don’t expect that they will be willing to lose ground on this flagship anti-bribery legislation without making their voices heard. When I say “blood, sweat and tears” I literally mean blood, sweat and tears. There are activists around the world who have been threatened with violence, jailed and even killed over the years to achieve the progress that has been made. It would be inaccurate, therefore, to believe that corporations are the only ones with “skin” in this game.

GFI would not presume to speak on behalf of these organizations without their permission, but we did not want to miss the opportunity to provide at least one civil society submission as a place-holder for a critical group of stakeholders.

We appreciated Prof. Koehler’s comments on the documents he posted. We are trying to begin a meaningful dialogue on these issues that more civil society organizations with direct experience in the field, around the world, can join. His comments demonstrate that we have been successful in starting that conversation.

Prof. Koehler did not invite me to blog for my motivational comments, however. He would like me to respond to his post of June 14, 2011.

Apart from quoting the opinion of a former SEC Commissioner in a statement made 20 years ago

• during a hearing on bills proposing changes that the Professor considers to be similar to changes being proposed today,
• which were ultimately never adopted by Congress, and
• during a time preceding the international proliferation of anti-bribery conventions and national laws that we have to support our FCPA enforcement efforts today,

Prof. Koehler seems to be focusing on two main subjects: the proposed amendment to further define “foreign official” and the proposal to include a compliance defense in the FCPA.

The Professor refers to the UK Bribery Act Guidance to shore up his position in support of creating a compliance defense for companies. The U.S. Chamber refers to the UK Bribery Act (the “UK Act”) itself to support its position that a compliance defense is a reasonable amendment to request. The compliance defense in the UK Act should not be taken out of context, however. It must be viewed in light of the other provisions of the UK Act. The UK Bribery Act criminalizes ALL forms of commercial bribery. The FCPA criminalizes only payments made to foreign officials. The UK Act does not permit facilitation payments. The FCPA permits facilitation payments and has an express provision creating an affirmative defense for reasonable travel and lodging and other types of expenses one might incur as a “host” of a trading partner. The UK Act’s extraterritoriality provisions have been described as more far-reaching than the FCPA’s.

The U.S. Chamber’s proposals to amend the FCPA are entitled “Restoring Balance.” The UK Act’s compliance defense could conceivably be seen as an attempt to balance provisions that go well beyond those of the FCPA. A compliance defense in the FCPA would, in fact, be out of balance when viewed in full context. However, if there is a genuine move to bring the FCPA in line with the UK Bribery Act then let’s talk!

I also found it interesting that the Professor referenced the UK Bribery Act Guidance in his support of the compliance defense. The Guidance he refers to is the Guidance from the UK Ministry of Justice. At the very beginning of that document, in paragraph 4, the Ministry states, “The question of whether an organisation had adequate procedures in place to prevent bribery in the context of a particular prosecution is a matter that can only be resolved by the courts taking into account the particular facts and circumstances of the case. The onus will remain on the organisation, in any case where it seeks to rely on the defence, to prove that it had adequate procedures in place to prevent bribery. However, departures from the suggested procedures contained within the guidance will not of itself give rise to a presumption that an organisation does not have adequate procedures.”

So, what does a compliance defense actually accomplish in the UK? A company still has to prove that it had adequate procedures in place to prevent the criminal activity (which means all of the investigation into what actually took place must still be undertaken) and the matter still has to be adjudicated by the courts. Compliance in the UK is not an absolute defense that can be relied upon to avoid the cost of investigation and litigation at all, as seems to be the idea behind the U.S. Chambers’ proposal! The burden on a UK company is, in practical terms, the same as that of a company defending an FCPA violation under the current form of the statute.

Prof. Koehler characterized some of my statements as “unsophisticated” and “naïve,” so I was surprised by his argument that the real reason that companies want a clearer definition of “foreign official” is so that they can more easily determine who they can take out for a round of golf and a few drinks at the 19th without thinking too hard about it. While I do not doubt that this is something companies do have to think about, I stand by my statement that a clearer definition of foreign official can just as easily be used to determine who a company can bribe and who it can’t bribe and I am not naïve enough to think that this isn’t a frequent question. Let’s get on board with the UK on this one and just not bribe anyone.

I will say, however, that I think I have a fairly accurate view of what motivates corporations. Corporations are motivated by their bottom line and their cost/benefit analysis. There are externalities that also factor into decisions, like reputational risk, but in the end the externalities are quantified and factored in. This is not a bad thing – corporations exist to make money and are vital to support a strong economy.

For the reasons set forth in GFI’s submission, I don’t think that most companies set out to engage in bribery, unless they do not have the attributes to be truly competitive in the market they are entering in the first place (which should not be overlooked as a possible motivating factor). When faced with a bribe, however, the choice on the spot may be perceived to be one of paying a bribe or losing business worth many times the value of the bribe. A strongly enforced FCPA makes that bribe much more expensive in any cost/benefit analysis.

The perception that the choice a company is making is whether to pay a bribe or lose the business is where we should be focusing our energy, however. Many companies have created strategies, policies and outreach to governments in the countries in which they operate in order to ensure that it is understood by those with whom they do business that they are subject to the FCPA and cannot pay bribes. We are pretty sure that the whole notion of the FCPA isn’t a surprise to their business counterparts when the subject is raised.

As I stated in GFI’s submission for the hearing, “Some companies, like Newmont Mining, view the FCPA in a positive light. Newmont Mining, based in Colorado, is the second largest gold mining company in the world. Newmont’s Director Corporate & External Affairs for Africa, Chris Andersen, stated during a panel discussion at the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Global Conference in March of this year that,

“…Newmont’s experience, particularly in Africa, has been that FCPA has been an enormously valuable protective device for us…when you have a government person saying…‘we’ll give you that license if you buy us a car or something’…it’s not about look ‘I’m a mean guy and I don’t value our relationship, and therefore I’m not going to give it to you,’ you say ‘look, there’s a law out there that means I’m going to go to jail if I do that, I’m not going to go to jail for you or anybody else.’”

There are many more arguments to be made on all sides of this debate, I have no doubt. Let’s make sure that all relevant voices are being heard moving forward.

Monday, June 20, 2011

ICE Appeal Receives Chilly Reception At 11th Circuit

It is one of the FCPA's most bizarre issues.

If bribery is not a victimless crime, then why do Foreign Corrupt Practices Act fines and penalties simply go directly into the U.S. Treasury? Why are there no efforts to identify the victims of FCPA violations and to compensate those victims?

As detailed in this prior post, in May Instituto Constarricense de Electricidad ("ICE") of Costa Rica petitioned "for protection of its rights as a victim" of Alcatel-Lucent's bribery scheme. (See here for a prior analysis of the December 2010 enforcement action).

In early June, Judge Marcia Cooke (Southern District of Florida) denied ICE's petition.

On June 15th, ICE filed this petition in the 11th Circuit for a writ of mandamus "directing the District Court to recognize ICE is a 'crime victim' under the Crime Victims' Rights Act of [Alcatel-Lucent's] crimes and to afford it all rights the CVRA guarantees to crime victims, including restitution."

The two issues presented on appeal were: (i) whether the district court erred by denying ICE victim status under the CVRA; and (ii) whether the district court erred in denying ICE restitution.

Last Friday, in a short 3-page decision (here), the 11th Circuit denied ICE's petition.

After noting the clearly erroneous standard of review, the 11th Circuit held that "the district court did not clearly err in finding that [ICE] actually functioned as the offenders' coconspirator" and that the district court did not "err in finding that ICE failed to establish that it was directly and proximately harmed by the offenders' criminal conduct."

The petition for victim status was factually difficult from the start and it is not surprising that ICE did not prevail. Yet, the ICE petition did succeed in raising the victim issue and causing those interested in bribery and corruption issues to ponder the valid and legitimate question of victims a bit more closely.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Russian FCPA: The Law Has Been Signed, Will The Culture Change Result?

Last month, Russian President Dimitri Medvedev signed legislation that criminalizes foreign bribery, with monetary sanctions for companies and individuals who bribe foreign public officials. Soon thereafter, the OECD formally invited Russia to join the OECD's Working Group on Bribery and to accede to the OECD's Anti-Bribery Convention (see here for the OECD release).

Max Chester (Senior Counsel at Foley & Lardner - see here) takes the stage today with this guest post. Chester, a native speaker of Russian with significant experience representing U.S. clients in commercial transactions in Russia, provides an overview and analysis of the new Russian "FCPA-like" law.


Russian FCPA: The Law Has Been Signed, Will The Culture Change As A Result?

On May 4, 2011, Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev signed into law a measure that significantly increases fines for bribery in Russia and now specifically applies to bribery of foreign government officials. The new federal law (here) is entitled “Federal Law dated May 4, 2011 No. 97-FZ On inclusion of changes to the Criminal Code of Russian Federation and to the Code of Administrative Offences in Connection with the Improvement of Government Administration in the Area of Fighting Corruption.” While the Russian title of the new law is not easy to understand even for a native Russian speaker, its objective is clear: it is intended to fight corruption in Russia, one of President Medvedev’s highest stated priorities, and to support Russia’s bid to accede to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. Because the new law specifically prohibits offering or acceptance of a bribe by a foreign government official, we’ll refer to the new law as the “Russian FCPA.” Because the Russian FCPA prohibits commercial bribery and both receiving and offering corrupt payments to foreign government officials, the new law appears to resemble the UK Bribery Act and can be said to have even further reach than the US FCPA.

With respect to commercial bribery, the new law changes art. 46 of the Criminal Code and imposes the maximum fine for bribery in the amount of 100 times the amount of the bribe not to exceed 500 million rubles) (approximately $17.8 million). Prior to the amendment, the maximum monetary fine for acceptance of a bribe was 1 million rubles or an amount equaling salary/other income for the previous 5 year period and the maximum monetary fine for offering a bribe was 500,000 rubles or an amount equaling salary/other income for the previous 3 year period. The monetary fines for commercial grease payments (подкуп “podkup” in Russian) were even lower: the offeror could face a maximum fine of only 300,000 rubles or an amount equaling salary/other income for the previous 2 year period, and the acceptor could face a maximum fine of only 1 million rubles or an amount equaling salary/other income for a 5 year period.

While incarceration up to 12 years for bribery/grease payments was possible prior to the amendment, according Larisa Brycheva, the chair of the Office of Legal Affairs to the President of Russian Federation, only 26% of those convicted for bribery-related offenses were incarcerated. Furthermore, most of those convicted were offering/accepting small bribes (from 500 rubles to 10,000 rubles), making it difficult for Russian judges to impose sentences of up to 12 years in prison resulting from bribes equaling the cost of an average dinner for two at a Moscow restaurant.

Given this unimpressive to-date enforcement regime, the Russian lawmakers have decided that a significantly higher monetary fine would be more effective than a possibility of a lengthy prison sentence. While the anti-corruption professionals should welcome this change in the Russian law, a big question still remains exactly how aggressively Russian authorities will enforce the new law. It may not be palatable to impose a 500 million ruble fine on a Russian bureaucrat whose official government salary is 40,000 rubles and whose only official assets are his apartment (where his family lives and thus is not subject to forfeiture) and his dacha, the title to which is likely held by his relatives. The same can not be said of foreign businesses, however, on whom it would be much easier for Russian authorities to impose and collect fines equaling 100 times the bribe. There is no indication in the Russian FCPA that it would not apply to US companies doing business in Russia. In other words, if a US company or its constituents engage in commercial or foreign government official bribery in Russia, the offenders would be subject to fines and potential incarceration in Russia.

The Specific Provisions of the New Law

Acceptance of a Bribe

The Russian FCPA now specifically prohibits bribery involving foreign government officials. Thus, art. 290 of the Criminal Code (which prohibits acceptance of bribes directly or through intermediaries) as amended applies to government officials, foreign government officials or officials of public international organizations. The new law breaks down the fines into several categories depending on the conduct at issue and the amount of the bribe. In every case, however, in addition to the monetary penalty or a prison sentence with a monetary penalty, the offender may be restricted from occupying certain positions in government or commercial entities. For example, part 1 of art. 290 of the Criminal Code now imposes a penalty between 25-50 times the bribe amount or incarceration up to 3 years with a fine equaling 20 times the bribe amount if the bribe is under 25,000 rubles and was used to have an official perform an act (or refrain from performing an act) which falls within the official’s duties and responsibilities. Part 2 of article 290 states further that if the bribe amount is between 25,000 and 150,000 rubles, then the maximum penalty for a violation is a fine between 30-60 times the bribe amount or incarceration up to 6 years with a fine equaling 30 times the bribe.

If the actions (inactions) of government officials, foreign government officials or officials of public international organizations for which they accept a bribe are considered illegal, Part 3 of art. 290 of the Criminal Code now imposes a penalty equaling 40-70 times the bribe amount or incarceration for a period of 3-7 years with a fine equaling 40 times the bribe amount.

Even stiffer penalties (60-80 times the bribe amount or incarceration for a period of 5-10 years with a fine equaling 50 times the bribe amount) apply if the bribe is accepted by a federal Russian government official or an official of an equivalent body of local government administration. Art. 290, Part 4.

If the actions prohibited by parts 1-3 above involve a conspiracy, or a threat or the amount at issue is over 150,000 rubles, the penalty is 70-90 times the bribe or incarceration for a period of 7-12 years. Art. 290, Part 5

If the actions prohibited by parts 1-4 involve an amount greater than 1 million rubles, then the penalty is 80-100 times the bribe amount or incarceration for a period of 8-15 years with a penalty equaling 70 times the bribe amount.

Giving of a Bribe

The Russian FCPA similarly amends art. 291 of the Criminal Code, which now prohibits giving of a bribe (directly or through an intermediary) to a government official, foreign government official or an official of a public international organization. The giving of a bribe in the amount less than 25,000 rubles is punishable by a fine equaling 15-30 times the bribe amount or incarceration of up to 2 years with a fine equaling 10 times the bribe amount. Art. 291, Part 1.

The giving of a bribe in the amount between 25,000 rubles and 150,000 rubles is punishable by a fine equaling 20-40 times the bribe amount or incarceration of up to 3 years with a fine equaling 15 times the bribe amount. Art. 291, Part. 2.

If the actions prohibited by parts 1-3 above involve a conspiracy or the amount at issue is over 150,000 rubles, the penalty is 60-80 times the bribe or incarceration for a period of 5-8 years with a fine equaling 30 times the bribe amount. Art. 291, Part 4.

The giving of a bribe in the amount exceeding 1 million rubles is punishable by a fine equaling 70-90 times the bribe amount or incarceration for a period between 7 and 12 years with a fine equaling 70 times the bribe amount. Art. 291, Part. 2.

Giving of a bribe to a government official, foreign government official or an official of a public international organization to secure an action/inaction which is itself deemed illegal is punishable by a fine equaling 30-60 times the bribe amount or incarceration of up to 8 years with a fine equaling 30 times the bribe amount. Art. 291, Part 3.

Aiding and Abetting Bribery

The Russian FCPA also introduces new article 2911 to the Criminal Code, which prohibits aiding and abetting bribery if the amount of the bribe exceeds 25,000 rubles. In such circumstances, the Russian FCPA imposes a fine equaling 20-40 times the bribe or incarceration for a period of up to 5 years with a fine equaling 20 times the bribe amount.

If an aider assists with a bribery for an official’s act that itself is considered illegal or if an aider uses his official position in aiding the bribery, the penalty is 30-60 times the bribe or incarceration for a period of time between 3-7 years with a fine equaling 30 times the bribe amount.

If the aiding is committed by an organized group or pursuant to a conspiracy, or the amount of the bribe exceeds 150,000 rubles, the penalty is 60-80 times the bribe amount or incarceration for a period of time between 7-12 years with a fine equaling 60 times the bribe amount.

The penalty for aiding bribery in the amount exceeding 1 million rubles is 70-90 times the bribe amount or incarceration for a period of time between 7-12 years with a fine equaling 70 times the bribe amount.

A promise or an offer to aid in the bribery is also punishable by a penalty equaling 15-70 times the bribe or incarceration for a period of up to 7 years with a fine equaling 10-60 times the bribe amount.

Definition of Foreign Government Official

The Russian FCPA defines a “foreign government official” as any appointed or elected official who has a position in any legislative, executive, administrative, or judicial branch of a foreign country or an individual who serves any public function for a foreign country or a public agency or a public enterprise. This definition seems to suggest that Russian lawmakers embrace the position taken by the DOJ that employees of government owned enterprises are “foreign government officials” for purposes of the FCPA. It would be interesting to see if Russian authorities deem employees of General Motors, AIG or other large US companies where the US government has a substantial equity position, “foreign government officials” for purposes of the Russian FCPA.

Amendments to the Code of Administrative Offences of Russian Federation

The Russian FCPA also amends several provisions of the Code of Administrative Offences of Russian Federation. Among those is amendment to article 19.28, which imposes penalties on legal entities for commercial bribery or bribery of foreign government officials if a payment of a bribe or an offer of a bribe was made on a legal entity’s behalf. In such circumstances, the penalty is 3 times the amount of the bribe but not less than 1 million rubles. If the amount of the bribe at issue is greater than 1 million rubles, then the penalty is up to 30 times the bribe amount but not less than 20 million rubles. If the amount of the bribe at issue is over 20 million rubles, then the penalty is up to 100 times the bribe amount but not less than 100 million rubles.

In addition, the Russian FCPA introduces several new protocols for Russian authorities to seek information from their foreign counterparts in connection with the investigation by Russian authorities of violations set forth above as well as protocols for Russian authorities to respond to inquiries from foreign law enforcement agencies in connection with foreign law enforcement agencies’ investigation of crimes. These provisions will undoubtedly strengthen the level of cooperation between Russian and foreign law enforcement agencies in implementing anti-corruption measures. Such efforts are already underway, as evidenced by the recent meetings between Alexander Yakovenko, the Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom in London, with Richard Alderman, Director of the Serious Fraud Office.


No law by itself can change overnight or even within a short period of time the “threatening” level of corruption that exists in Russia, as acknowledged by the Russian President himself. The current state of affairs in Russia is a product of 70+ years of socialist dictatorship and the resulting mindset of many government officials. This state of affairs will change, undoubtedly, and the passing of the Russian FCPA is the step in the right direction for Russia. It is up to the Russian authorities to follow through on the provisions of the new law.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Carson Defendants Move To Dismiss Travel Act Counts

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act is not the only tool the DOJ has used to charge alleged bribery schemes. The FCPA, after all, requires a "foreign official."

With increasing frequency, the DOJ - often in conjunction with FCPA charges - charges Travel Act violations when the conduct at issue is missing a "foreign official" yet concerns allegations of commercial bribery. For a useful overview of the Travel Act and its relevance to FCPA enforcement (broadly speaking), see this recent post from the FCPA Blog.

The DOJ's use of the Travel Act is being challenged in the Carson matter pending in the Central District of California. This is the same case in which "foreign official" was and is being challenged. (See here and here for the prior posts).

Earlier this week, in a significant FCPA-related event, certain of the Carson defendants filed a motion to dismiss the Travel Act charges. As noted in the brief (here), in addition to FCPA charges, the moving defendants were charged with Travel Act violations based on alleged bribes to employees of private companies located in China and Russia.

In sum, the Carson defendants argue as follows.

"In Morrison v. Nat'l Australia Bank Ltd., 130 S. Ct. 2869, 2878 (2010), the Supreme Court explained that unless Congress has clearly indicated that a statute applies extraterritorially, it does not. The Travel Act criminalizes “bribery . . . in violation of the law of the state in which committed,” i.e., domestic bribery. Travel Act application to the foreign bribery alleged in this case violates Morrison’spresumption against the extraterritoriality of United States (“U.S.”) laws."

"While the face of the Travel Act, considered with Morrison’s presumption against extraterritoriality, shows that the Travel Act has no foreign application, the statute’s legislative history confirms it. Consideration of the Travel Act in conjunction with the subsequently enacted FCPA also demonstrates that Congress did not intend that the Travel Act extend to foreign bribery."

"Further, the Travel Act Counts are predicated upon California’s commercial bribery statute, Cal. Penal Code § 641.3 (“PC 641.3”), so the applicability of that statute to Defendants’ conduct is essential to the government’s case. PC 641.3 has never been applied to foreign commercial bribery and its legislative history shows its foreign application was never considered."

"Application of the Travel Act and PC 641.3 would also be unconstitutionally vague. Defendants had no notice that either the Travel Act or PC 641.3 would reach the alleged conduct. The government’s recent application of this fifty-year old statute against foreign commercial bribery, in the face of strong skepticism that it even applies, shows the enforcement of this statute is arbitrary."

"Additionally, the Travel Act allegations are simply defective. The Travel Act prohibits travel or the use of a facility in interstate or foreign commerce with the intent to promote unlawful activity (i.e., state-law bribery), followed by an act to promote the bribery. But the Travel Act Counts fail to allege the essential element of an act following the travel or use of a facility in interstate commerce to promote the alleged bribery. So too, Counts Twelve and Fourteen fail to adequately allege the jurisdictional element of travel or use of a facility in interstate or foreign commerce. Because the Travel Act Counts omit necessary elements, they fail."

"Finally, the Court cannot guess whether the Grand Jury would have even indicted Defendants for conspiracy had it known that the Travel Act did not apply to Defendants’ alleged conduct. Because the defective Travel Act allegations infect the entire conspiracy count, Count One must be dismissed in its entirety."

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

House Hearing - Overview and Observations

Representative James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) today chaired a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security titled "Foreign Corrupt Practices Act." (See here for the video).

This post provides a chronological overview of the hearing as well as observations.

Compared to the Senate's FCPA hearing in November 2010 (see here for the prior post) today's hearing (approximately two hours) was much more contentious. For instance, during the hearing Chairman Sensenbrenner noted that FCPA enforcement has become a "considerable windfall for the federal government" and he concluded the hearing by telling Greg Andres (DOJ) that it "would behoove the DOJ to realize that the statute needs updating" and that those on the Committee will be drafting a reform bill.

The hearing focused on a wide range of issues and in many ways was similar to FCPA reform hearings in the 1980's in that a common theme explored during the hearing was whether the current state of FCPA enforcement harms U.S. business.

There is clearly a push to introduce FCPA reform legislation and members of both parties appeared receptive (to at least certain) FCPA reform proposals most notably clarifying the FCPA's definition of "foreign official" / "instrumentality" and exploring an FCPA compliance defense. In fact, John Conyers (D-MI), who appeared most supportive of the current state of FCPA enforcement, stated he would support such reform proposals. The DOJ supports neither of these proposals.

Other issues explored in the hearing included prosecutorial discretion and DOJ declination decisions - including a request that the DOJ provide further information as to its declination decisions.

What happens next is a good question.

It seems like an FCPA reform bill will soon be introduced and hearings as to the specifics of such a bill may occur. Whether such a bill can get out of committee for full consideration by the House, and whether similar bills will be introduced in the Senate, is the open question. Politically, any FCPA reform efforts are likely, because of the topic at issue, to attract substantial opposition - including opposition that is less than informed as to the actual issues.

It bears noting that the last time Congress enacted significant FCPA amendments, the process took eight years and the statute was amended, not through a stand-alone bill, but through Title V, Subtitle A, Part I of the Omnibus Trade and Competiveness Act of 1988.

Opening Statement of Chairman Sensenbrenner

Sensenbrenner began by noting that when Congress passed the FCPA in 1977 the "world was a different place." In response to slush funds and secret payments to foreign governments that adversely affected U.S. foreign policy, Congress passed the FCPA and the law "sent a strong signal." (For an overview of the facts and circumstances motivating Congress to pass the FCPA - see here).

Sensenebrenner next observed that thirty-four years later, the world has turned upside down, China is a power, the nature of overseas business has changed, and many countries have some state-control over business.

Sensenbrenner noted that there has been a dramatic increase in FCPA prosecution and that last year approximately 1/2 of all DOJ criminal penalties were in FCPA cases (see here for the DOJ release) - a dynamic he called a "considerable windfall for the federal government."

In touching upon themes similar to when Congress held substantive FCPA hearings in the mid-1980's, Sensenbrenner placed the increase in FCPA enforcement in the context of the current economic downturn. Indeed a theme throughout the hearing was that the current state of FCPA enforcement may be harming U.S. business interests.

Sensenbrenner stated that "FCPA prosecutions should be effective and fair," but also "predictable" so that the "rules of the road are clear" so that "business can start moving again."

In closing his opening statement, Sensenbrenner stated that the Committee was well-suited to examine the impact of the FCPA and to ask hard questions - such as whether the FCPA was succeeding in its mission or hurting job creation.

Opening Statement of Ranking Member Scott

Robert Scott (D-VA) next made an opening statement. Scott summarized the reform proposals including providing greater clarity to the "foreign official" definition. As a potential compliance affirmative defense, Scott observed that companies are spending substantial sums - millions of dollars in some cases - on FCPA compliance - a result he indicated may often result in "overcompliance" because companies would rather be "safe than sorry." Scott stated that "punishing those companies and individuals who are operating in good faith runs counter to the basic tenets of fairness and justice." He also indicated that successor liability "runs counter" to a system of justice that should only punish the guilty party.

In closing, Scott said that effective enforcement of the FCPA is "crucial" and he applauded aggressive enforcement of the law. At the same time, Scott noted the necessity of periodically reviewing laws to make sure "they remain fair and just."

Opening Statement of John Conyers

John Conyers (D-MI) also made an opening statement. After a few sentences about unemployment figures and the Obama administration, Conyers asked the following question: will somebody explain to me how 140 cases in 10 years is "overly aggressive prosecution."

Conyers did indicate in his opening statement that he does support certain FCPA reform proposals. As to clarification of "foreign official," Conyers said he can "support this one" because it can create a problem when those subject to the FCPA do not have a clear understanding of who a "foreign official" is. Conyers also said that he can support the addition of a compliance defenses so that companies can fight imposition of criminal liability if individual employees and agents circumvent compliance measures. Conyers did not support other FCPA reform proposals - such as limiting successor liability, limiting parent company liability for acts of foreign subsidiaries, and adding a wilful mens rea requirement for corporations.

Statement by Greg Andres

Greg Andres (Deputy Assistant Attorney General) next delivered an opening statement. His prepared statement can be found here.

Among other things, Andres noted that DOJ's FCPA prosecutions involve "systemic long-standing bribery schemes" not the payment of single bribe payments of nominal sums.

Andres specifically cited the Daimler AG and Siemens FCPA prosecutions to support this point. However, the irony is that neither of these FCPA enforcement actions involved FCPA anti-bribery charges against the parent company or any related individual prosecutions.

As to a potential FCPA compliance defense, Andres stated that the DOJ already considers a company's pre-existing compliance policies and procedures pursuant to the Federal Principles of Prosecution of Business Organizations (see here).

As to providing guidance, Andres noted that the DOJ's goal "is not simply to prosecute FCPA cases" and that senior DOJ officials often speak publicly on the FCPA and highlight relevant considerations and practices companies should adopt. Andres also discussed the DOJ's FCPA Opinion Procedure program (see here for more).

In closing, Andres stated that DOJ is proud of its enforcement record and that it looks forward to working with Congress.

Statement by Michael Mukasey

Former Attorney General and current Debevoise & Plimpton partner Michael Mukasey next delivered an opening statement on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. See here for his prepared statement.

Mukasey began by noting that no one favors bribery and that while the FCPA indeed does have merit, "more than 30 years of experience" with the law demonstrates that it can be improved.

His testimony focused on two of the Chamber's FCPA reform proposals: clarifying the definition of "foreign official" and "instrumentality" and amending the FCPA to include a compliance defense.

As to the later, Mukasey observed that statutory guidance can be found in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act which provides for something akin to a compliance defense. Mukasey stated that "dozens, if not hundreds of cases are resolved under this compliance defense" and that the defense reduces discrimination by encouraging employers to have robust compliance systems.

As to "foreign official," Mukasey referenced the recent judicial opinions on this issue (see here and here for the prior posts), yet noted that the judges did very little to clarify the limits of the "foreign official" issue other than say that whether an employee of an alleged state-owned or state-controlled enterprise could constitute a "foreign official" varied depending on the circumstances. Mukasey stated that leaving this issue in the hands of a jury in a criminal trial makes it "impossible" for companies to determine in advance who is a "foreign official" thereby increasing uncertainty and barriers to U.S. business. According to Mukasey, "majority ownership is the most plausible threshold" for whether a state-owned or state-controlled enterprise constitutes a foreign government "instrumentality."

Statement by George Terwilliger

George Terwilliger (White & Case) next delivered an opening statement. See here for his prepared statement.

Terwilliger opened by stating that he favors "fair enforcement of sensible corruption statutes" and that "leveling the playing field" is essential. He noted that the DOJ and SEC are "realizing their enforcement goal of driving companies into far greater compliance," but also noted the less desirable effects of stepped-up enforcement. He spoke of the "hidden effect" of foregone business opportunities because of FCPA enforcement concerns and noted that the current state of enforcement may hurt job creation.

According to Terwilliger, the "hidden costs" of FCPA enforcement are the result of uncertainty and that companies sometimes forego deals, take a pass on certain projects and withdraw from other projects - not because such companies are necessarily risk averse - but because of the risk-reward ratio in this current FCPA enforcement environment.

Terwilliger proposed a further FCPA reform proposal related to successor liability and that is a statutory safe harbor provision during which an acquiring company could be shielded from FCPA liability for a defined time period post-closing. During this post-closing period, the acquiring company would undertake a thorough review of the target's business operations and have the opportunity to self-disclose any FCPA issues to the enforcement authorities.

Statement by Shana-Tara Regon

Shana-Tara Regon (Director, White Collar Crime Policy, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers) next testified. See here for her prepared statement.

She observed that given the general lack of judicial scrutiny over FCPA enforcement, the FCPA says whatever essentially the DOJ says it means and that the FCPA has, in many instances, become a strict liability statute "in ways that those who created the FCPA could never have envisoned."

Regon stated that NACDL does not advocate bribery and similarly stated that advocating for reform is not akin to advocating for bribery. Her testimony was focused on two reform proposals - clarifying the definition of "foreign official" and strengthening the mens rea requirement for corporate offenses. She stated that the FCPA is "emblematic of the general problem of overcriminalization" and that FCPA enforcement has several "unintended consequences" including over-compliance.

During the hearing, Global Financial Integrity (see here for yesterday's post) tweeted as follos: " This group of witnesses is such a sham. All three non-DOJ witnesses spewing disingenuous pro-#bribery #AmChamb talking points #FCPAHearing." (See here).

Chairman Sensenbrenner reserved his questions for the end and next called on various Representatives present.

Q&A Session

Tom Marino (R-PA) asked Andres (DOJ) about the DOJ's top enforcement obstacle.

Andres stated that because FCPA violations focus on conduct abroad, the DOJ often needs to rely on MLAT requests which can take longer. He noted that the DOJ is in favor of extending the FCPA's statute of limitations given that it generally takes a long time to investigate FCPA cases. Andres further stated that while there is much discussion as to the increase in FCPA enforcement, this discussion often "fails to recognize the size and magnitude of the problem."

Robert Scott (D-VA) next asked Mukasey whether the compliance defense proposed was a total defense or an affirmative defense. Mukasey stated that the proposal was for an affirmative defense and that where there is a proved violation of the FCPA, the question should then become whether the company had a compliance mechanism in place reasonable designed to detect and prevent the conduct. Mukasey noted that this issue may be an "uphill climb" for a company, but that the FCPA ought to at least allow a company to pursue such a defense.

Scott next asked Mukasey about the mens rea reform proposal for corporate liability. Mukasey seemed to be advocating a corporate liability standard similar to the (soon to be old) U.K. standard and the current Canada law standard when he stated that a company should only be held liable if someone in a "policy making position" was involved in or condoned the improper activity.

Scott next asked Andres (DOJ) the general question of whether any de minimis cases have ever been brought by the DOJ. Andres stated "no," the DOJ has never prosecuted "cup of coffee, lunch, taxi-ride type of cases" and he further stated that because of the FCPA's corrupt intent element and the affirmative defense for reasonable and bona fide business expenditures, it is an open question as to whether such facts even violate the statute.

Even so, Andres stated that the DOJ is opposed to creating a de minimis exception to the FCPA because small, recurring payments can amount to significant bribery. He stated that the amount of the bribe is not the relevant consideration, rather the intent of the bribe is and that all bribery is inappropriate. Andres said that all the talk of taxi-ride payments and meals being in violation of the FCPA "is not reflected in our enforcement actions."

Taxi-cabs were a recurring issue throughout the hearing. Mukasey stated, in response to a question, that the taxi-cab example is real and that when "nervous counsel" found out that a company may have paid a "foreign official's" taxi-cab fare, the company disclosed the conduct to the DOJ and the DOJ requested that the company investigate its entire relationship with the "foreign official." Mukasey stated that this investigation cost the company approximately $200,000, no violation was found, and that the company could have used this money for something more beneficial than conducting in investigation as to these facts.

Louie Gohmert (R-TX) next stated that those subject to the FCPA "ought to have a clear enough line" so that people don't have to think "is it or isn't it a bribe" to make this payment. Gohmert said that Congress can define bribery so that companies "can have a clear line" so that a company does not have to spend $200,000 to figure out whehther paying for a cab is an FCPA violation. Gohmert then made an interesting observing that the FCPA allows a "young prosecutor" or an "FBI agent seeking to make a name for himself" the opportunity to pursue all sorts of enforcement actions and that enforcement then ends up being more aggressive than it should be.

Gohmert next asked Andres (DOJ) as follows: why should a company be prosecuted if a company has a compliance program set up according to the standards set forth in Chapter 8 of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines (see here). Gohmert stated that if a company has done everything it can do, it seems like a strict liability standard if the company is prosecuted because of the act of an employee acting contrary to the company's policy. Andres stated that the DOJ "does not prosecute companies based on the acts of a single, rogue employee."

Rather, Andres stated that the DOJ looks at how pervasive was the conduct or whether the conduct involved a high-ranking employee. Andres specifically stated that the DOJ opposes consideration of an FCPA compliance defense. He stated that DOJ already seriously considers compliance programs in its charging decisions, along with other factors such as cooperation and voluntary disclosure.

Andres called a potential compliance defense "novel" and one that is not "well-defined." He said that such a defense could lead to "paper compliance." He also referenced the U.K. Bribery Act (which does contain such a compliance defense) yet stated that this defense is not yet in effect and thus there is no precedent to analyze to see whether such a defense is effective.

Given that the DOJ frequently takes FCPA enforcement position that are "novel," are not "well-defined," and are not supported by precedent, Andres response on this issue was less than convincing.

In closing, Andres stated that an FCPA compliance defense could "create a loophole" and allow for some bribery to occur. He called such a potential defense "novel and risky" and said that the "time is not right to consider it."

The floor next returned to John Conyers (D-MI). He stated that ignorance of the law is no excuse and wondered why in the case of bribery does there need to be a de minimis rule. He stated that "corporations have more lawyers than anybody else" and "why do they need to know" how low the bribery threshold should be. He said that "they don't deserve to know that."

Conyers also conducted the most contentious Q&A exchange of the hearing with Regon. Conyers asked - "give me some examples of overcriminalization of the FCPA." He repeatedly interrupted Regon and asked "just give me some examples" "give me an instance of where one case was ever brought by the DOJ that would constitute overcriminalization." Conyers stated, "only 140 cases have been brought in 10 years -that averages 14 cases a year - is that overcriminalization to you?" Regon stated that overcriminlization occurs when a statute provides no reasonable limits and that she is concerned more about prosecutions that may occur in the future more so than prosecutions that have already occured.

Ted Poe (R-TX) next launched into a criticism of China. He said that "China, through its government, follows a systematic philosophy of corruption" and that China will "do anything in the world to get their way" including stealing from the U.S. and paying bribes. He suggested that "any means necessary" is the Chinese way to get business. "We on the other hand," Poe stated, "believe in the rule of law." Poe stated that the "Chinese are effective in their philosophy" and he observed that he just returned from Iraq where he learned that Chinese companies are going to rebuild Iraqi's oil system and that he suspected money changed hands in order to get this business.

Poe, a former prosecutor, next said that it "disturbs" him when we give DOJ prosecutors too much discretion. Poe said that he was not advocating loosening the standards, but he did prefer "absolute certainty" about what is a violation of the FCPA as "opposed to too much discretion" by the DOJ on what something means and whether it is a bribe.

Judy Chu (D-CA) next asked Andres a series of questions allowing him to further articulate how the DOJ takes into consideration a company's compliance program and how compliance expectations are stated in public documents such as Chapter 8 of the Sentencing Guidlines and the OECD Guidelines. (See here). Andres further stated that there are situations where the DOJ does not pursue an enforcement action because of a variety of factors, including a company's pre-existing compliance program, even if these instances are not made public because the DOJ does not issue a press release. Asked by Chu for reasons why FCPA enforcement has expanded, Andres stated that the "problem is as big as it has ever been" and that "at least one reason" for the increase in enforcement is the result of SOX whereby companies have an obligation to test its internal controls - tests that often uncover FCPA issues that are then often disclosed to the DOJ.

Hank Johnson (D-GA) next asked Regon about prosecutorial discretion and whether it is fair to say that the "looser the law the more prosecutorial discretion and the narrower the law the less prosecutorial discretion." Regon stated that if the DOJ means what it says (i.e. that it targets only explicit instances of bribery and that it does not prosecute based on the actions of rogue employees), then the DOJ should not mind less prosecutorial discretion. Johnson next launched into an unusual statement about illegal crime (blue-collar crime) and legal crime (white collar crime in the sense that prosecutions of white collar crime tend to be less vigorous). Johnson said he was bothered by the fact there has not been much prosecutorial activity as to white collar crime, he said this "seems kind of fishy" and that some "folks are getting off the hook for legal crime."

Sandra Adams (R-FL) next asked Andres whether the DOJ has a definition of "foreign official" or "instrumentality." Andres said, in addition to the statute, there are now several decisions by district courts that further "amplified" the definition of foreign official. Andres stated that DOJ does not support a change to the definition of "foreign official" or "instrumentality."

Adams next Andres several pointed questions about DOJ declination decisions and whether such decisions are published or transparent. Andres stated that this is a difficult area for the government because the DOJ does not want to "penalize a company or individual investigated by not prosecuted."

I've argued before (see here for the prior post) that the DOJ should publish its declination decisions in a manner similar to its FCPA Opinion Procedure decisions. Given that most declination decisions would seem to follow disclosure by a company of FCPA scrutiny (in its SEC filings), Andres's rationale for not making declination decisions public is less than convincing.

Adams asked - in the last year, how many instances of FCPA conduct have been disclosed to the DOJ where no enforcement action resulted. Andres did not offer any specific number, but retreated to the FCPA Opinion Procedure and noted that if a company ever has a question about the FCPA, it has the ability to ask the DOJ and the DOJ is obligated to give an opinion.

Adams next asked Andres whether the DOJ is defining what the law means. Andres said that "everyone of these cases is negotiated with experienced defense counsel" and that counsel has "ample opportunity" to address any issues concerning the DOJ's enforcement.

Mukasey then answered that while resolved FCPA enforcement actions make for interesting case studies, such resolutions are not binding in other cases.

Before her time expired, Adams requested that the DOJ provide the Committee with more detail as to its declination decisions, including the DOJ's reasons and rationale for why enforcement actions did not result. Chairman Sensenbrenner then followed up and said DOJ's responses will be made part of hearing record.

Shelia Jackson Lee (D-TX) next asked Andres how many attorneys and staff are assigned to FCPA enforcement. He stated that the DOJ's FCPA unit, includes a core unit in D.C. of 15 to 20 enforcement attorneys and that assistance in trials is given by local prosecutors. Jackson Lee asked "is this an excessive amount" and Andres said "certaintly not in light of the size and magnitude of the bribery problem ... it is significant." Jackson Lee next received a tutorial from Andres as to the FCPA's jurisdiction over foreign companies.

Ben Quayle (R-AZ) next asked a question very much based on current events and that is the scrutiny of the Macau gaming industry. [Las Vegas Sands recently disclosed that it received subpoenas concerning its conduct in Macau]. Andres stated that it was not appropriate for him to comment on any ongoing investigations.

Quayle next asked Andres whethr General Motors would be considered a U.S. government "instrumentality." Andres said that in addressing this issue, the DOJ considers government ownership or investment as only one factor. Other factors include characterization of the entity under foreign law, the purpose of the entity, and that under these factors General Motors would likely not qualify as a U.S. government "instrumentality." Quayle next asked whether it is relevant if the government has communications with the company's board and the government has the ability to control or influence the entity (a presumed reference to GM's relationship with the U.S. government). Andres again stated that control and ownership is but one factor and he specifically referenced the recent Lindsey prosecution where the Mexican entity at issue was specifically addressed in the country's constitution.

Quayle next asked Terwilliger whether he has any knowledge of companies conceding markets to foreign competitors because of the FCPA. Terwilliger stated that "conceding markets" may be a bit strong, but that American companies have become much more circumspect in dealing with foreign business opportunities because of FCPA enforcement. In particular, Terwilliger said that companies may bypass "smaller opportunities" (that might become bigger opportunities) because of the FCPA in that the cost-benefit analysis and FCPA compliance are too much to worry about.

Chairman Sensenbrenner was the last person to ask questions and he began his time by stating as follows. There is "no question in my mind that we have to bring this law up to date." "No one is in favor of bribery, but there has to be more certainty." Sensenbrenner said he was "a bit befuddled" by Conyer's statement that corporations don't deserve to know what bribery is and he stated that "everyone has a right to know what is illegal."

Sensenbrenner's only question (a long one at that as he basically summarized the Chamber's FCPA reform proposals) was directed to Regon and Andres. Regon focused mostly on the corporate mens rea issue and stated that her organization is supportive of "anything Congress does" to clarify the FCPA. Tara Regon failed to see the rationale for not providing greater clarity as to the FCPA and noted that "we have many bribery statutes on the books, and some of those are written tightly and work well."

Sensenbrenner then asked Andres - which of Regon's suggestions do you agree with and Andres said "I don't agree with any of them." For instance, Andres said with the definition of "foreign official" that "one thing you need to take into consideration is that the statute covers the whole world" and that what might constitute a "foreign official" in China may be different than what constitutes a "foreign official" in Brazil or France.

Sensenbrenner grasped onto this issue and noted that this part of the uncertainty that people are complaining about.

Andres followed with two points. First, that if there is concern, companies subject to the FCPA can ask for a DOJ opinion. This only seemed to enrange Sensenbrenner further as he stated "come on, China is a communist country - they are not going to tell you what the government involvement is" in a company "they don't have the type of disclosure we have."

Andres second point was that the FCPA makes illegal paying a bribe and that if companies aren't paying bribes they have nothing to fear.

Sensenbrenner then seemed to pose a question at the end of the hearing as to whether the DOJ would support an FCPA amendment that simply makee bribery (all bribery) illegal (perhaps akin to the UK Bribery Act). Sensenbrenner did not pause for Andres to respond and he (Sensenbrenner) concluded the hearing by saying "it would behoove the DOJ to realize that the statute needs updating." Andres said that the DOJ is "more than willing to work with Congress" to which Sensenbrenner said "see you later we will be drafting a bill."

Sensenbrenner then commented that if Andres were the general counsel of a corporation advising the CEO and everyone else, he would likely be advising the company in the "most narrow way" and "exercising the greatest amount of caution." "As a result," Sensenbrenner stated, legitimate business activity is not pursued and U.S. companies are put in a significant disadvantage compared to foreign companies.

Sensenbrenner then told Andres - "get the message sir and tell that to the AG."