Department of Justice (DOJ)

On March 12, 2015, Commerzbank AG, Germany’s second largest bank and a global financial institution, agreed to pay $1.45 Billion (yes, with a “B”) in forfeitures and fines to the U.S. Government for violating U.S. sanctions against Iran and Sudan. The amount paid by Commerzbank under the settlement will not be shocking to those who read our reporting on the BNP Paribas penalty of $8.9 Billion (again, that is a “B”) for similar sanctions violations.
Continue Reading The Broader Problem: European Bank Creates an Easy Catch for the Long Arm of U.S. Jurisdiction

On February 12, 2015, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that three U.S.-based importers had agreed to pay more than $3 million to resolve a lawsuit brought by the United States under the False Claims Act (FCA) alleging that they had made false declarations to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and conspired with other domestic companies to make false declarations to CBP in order avoid paying “antidumping” and “countervailing” duties.  No government contracts were involved.  These were “reverse” FCA claims based upon underpayment of duties for private sector import transactions.
Continue Reading Add Importers to Those Facing Expanding Whistleblower Claims under the False Claims Act

On October 10, 2014, the U.S. Department of Justice announced a civil settlement with Teodoro (“Teddy”) Nguema Obiang, Vice President of Equatorial Guinea and eldest son of the country’s current President, under the DOJ’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative. Through a combination of forfeiture and divestment, Obiang agreed to turn over $30 million in U.S.-based assets purchased in a “corruption-fueled spending spree,” according to the DOJ. Those assets include a Malibu mansion, Ferrari, and $1 million for life-size Michael Jackson statues Obiang had expatriated from the United States to Equatorial Guinea. He gets to keep a Gulfstream jet and most of his other Michael Jackson paraphernalia, however, including the red leather jacket MJ wore in “Thriller” and the white crystal-covered glove from the king of pop’s “Bad” tour. The settlement dollar-value represents less than half of what the DOJ sought; Obiang managed to send a bulk of his U.S.-based assets outside the United States, including several luxury cars. But the case still represents significant progress in the U.S. government’s anti-corruption efforts, particularly because this action was brought against an official still in power, and most of the settlement amount will be used for the benefit of the people of Equatorial Guinea.


Continue Reading Take the Mansion, But Leave the Thriller Jacket: DOJ Settles with Equatorial Guinea Veep for $30 Million in Assets Bought With Corrupt Proceeds

I will start by saying I am a proud Francophile. I love many things about French culture; from the just-right draw of their espresso (sorry, Italy, that ristretto is just too short and bitter) to the sacrosanct treatment of time for leisure and family. Indeed, most attempts by the country to preserve la vie Française are idealistic efforts to protect what I see as a beautiful way of life (perhaps excluding some of the Académie Française’s more laughable efforts to provide French alternatives to borrowed English words). And some of the country’s biggest companies represent not only the economic engines of France but also embody national pride in global market power.
Continue Reading BNP Paribas and La Résistance: Why Compliance is not Capitulation and Cooperation Could Save an Economy

Vacation is great, but it can involve a great deal of planning.  And, paradoxically, leisure travel can involve more planning than traveling for business.  That travel-related work stands out as a centerpiece of the October 22, 2013 Diebold, Inc. (Diebold) Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Deferred Prosecution Agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).  The $48 million in penalties, disgorgement, and interest, and the 18-month compliance monitor imposed on Diebold under the settlement, serve to demonstrate the strong emphasis that the DOJ and SEC place on appropriate compliance planning, and the significant steps that will be taken against companies seen to be lacking an internal compliance compass.

Continue Reading Tryin’ to Make a Dollar out of Fifteen Cents: The Diebold FCPA Settlement Explains What Officials Did on Their Vacation

By: Cheryl Palmeri

On May 29, 2013, Total, S.A. (Total), the French petroleum corporation, agreed to pay nearly $400 million to resolve charges that it violated the anti-bribery and books and records provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).  Collectively, the penalties imposed by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) against Total mark one of the largest settlement amounts yet under the FCPA.
Continue Reading Total Settlement of FCPA Charges

By: Matthew Riemer and Mark Jensen

On December 17, 2012, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) announced a settlement under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) with Allianz SE (“Allianz”), the insurance company based in Germany, resulting in $5.3 million in civil penalties and more than $7 million in disgorgement and interest.  The settlement stemmed from a two-year investigation into allegations that an Allianz subsidiary paid bribes to government officials in Indonesia over a seven-year period and violated the FCPA’s books and records and internal controls provisions.  The Department of Justice (“DOJ”) started its own investigation into potential criminal liability for Allianz, but closed its case in 2011 with a declination letter, an event that was reported in the Wall Street Journal.
Continue Reading No Knowledge, but Hints of Omissions in the Allianz FCPA Settlement

By: Scott Maberry and Mark Jensen

On August 8, 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) announced agreements with the drug manufacturer Pfizer Inc. to settle allegations that a Pfizer subsidiary had paid bribes to non-U.S. doctors and health care system personnel in exchange for prescribing Pfizer products.
Continue Reading Profit Counting: The Pfizer FCPA Settlement

By: Thad McBride and Mark Jensen

On March 26, 2012, U.S. medical device maker Biomet, Inc. (Biomet) agreed with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to settle charges related to alleged bribes paid to obtain business in Argentina, Brazil, and China. This is the third – though almost certainly not the last – Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) settlement with medical device manufacturers.

In the wake of recent setbacks in the Shot Show and Lindsey cases, the settlement serves as a reminder that the U.S. government is still aggressively enforcing the FCPA and broadly interpreting its provisions.
Continue Reading Continuing the Trend: Medical Device Maker Biomet Settles FCPA Charges For More Than $22 million

By: Thad McBride and Cheryl Palmeri

On February 24, 2012, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged three executives of Noble Corporation (Noble), a Swiss oil services company, with violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). The SEC accused Noble’s former CEO and the company’s current Division Manager in Nigeria of arranging hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from 2003 to 2007. According to the SEC, the bribes were to induce Nigerian customs officials to grant new temporary permits and extensions to allow Noble’s oil rigs to remain in the country improperly. Both individuals are disputing the charges.


Continue Reading A Noble Pursuit? SEC Brings FCPA Charges Against Individual Oil Services Executives

By: Thaddeus McBride and Mark Jensen

There were several noteworthy developments related to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) in 2011.  For the first year in recent memory, however, the most significant developments were not simply huge monetary settlements (although there were those, too).  Instead, the key developments of 2011 provide new guidance on how the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and – notably – the courts view enforcement under the statute.  While we have a more nuanced view of the FCPA after 2011, we are also left with a substantial question about the future of the law.
Continue Reading The FCPA in 2011: Five Answers and a Looming Question