Yesterday the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced a non-prosecution agreement (“NPA”) with a Hong Kong-based subsidiary of Credit Suisse Group AG arising out of the so-called “princelings” scandals of recent years—the practice of hiring unqualified, but politically-connected, relatives of Chinese officials to garner business from state-owned firms. Per Credit Suisse’s admissions, “bankers discussed and approved the hiring of close friends and family of Chinese officials in order to secure business,” resulting in $46 million “in profits from business mandates with Chinese” state-owned enterprises. As part of the resolution, Credit Suisse agreed to a $47 million criminal penalty, to continue to cooperate with DOJ, and to enhance its compliance program, including adopting additional controls around hiring. In addition, Credit Suisse agreed to pay nearly $25 million in disgorgement and $4.8 million in prejudgment interest to the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). In its press release, DOJ stated that it was giving Credit Suisse a 15 percent discount from the bottom end of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines for its cooperation in the investigation, while also (as discussed more below) noting steps the firm did not take that worked to limit the amount of such cooperation credit. While this is hardly the first of the “princelings” cases, it does demonstrate DOJ’s continued commitment to the cooperation framework it laid out in its FCPA Corporate Enforcement Policy (“Enforcement Policy”) late last year.
On June 13, 2018, in its latest decision in a long-running litigation, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia considered the applicability of certain exemptions under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) to documents sought by journalists relating to the actions of the independent compliance monitor that Siemens AG was required to retain under the terms of its 2008 plea agreement for violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (the “FCPA”). Broadly speaking, although the court concluded that portions of the documents that related to Siemens’ business operations and the DOJ’s analysis of the monitor’s activities were exempted from disclosure, the court also required the DOJ to produce other portions of those materials and to reevaluate, based on the court’s decision, whether additional materials had to be disclosed. The decision, and the lengthy litigation over the application of FOIA to these materials, highlight the complexity of identifying the boundaries of the FOIA protection applicable to the typically sensitive and confidential information companies provide to compliance monitors and the risk that such information later will have to be disclosed once it is in the hands of the government. Continue Reading Recent District Court Decision on Applicability of FOIA to Siemens FCPA Monitorship Documents Provides Guidance on Scope of Possible Disclosures
On May 9, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein provided remarks at the American Conference Institute’s 20th Anniversary New York Conference on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and announced a new policy designed to promote coordination and limit the imposition of multiple penalties on a company for the same conduct, which he referred to as “piling on.”
This memorandum highlights some of the most salient points from Rosenstein’s remarks, and describes the key elements of the new policy, with an eye towards potential implications for enforcement actions going forward.
On March 1, 2018, U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ” or the “Department”) officials announced that the Criminal Division is expanding the applicability of a policy that encourages corporate self-reporting and cooperation for violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) to reach other types of non-corruption criminal cases. Speaking at the American Bar Association’s National Institute on White Collar Crime in San Diego, John Cronan, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the DOJ Criminal Division, and Benjamin Singer, Chief of the DOJ Securities and Financial Fraud Unit, told attendees that the Criminal Division will apply the FCPA Corporate Enforcement Policy (the “FCPA Enforcement Policy”) as nonbinding guidance in cases other than FCPA cases.
The FCPA Enforcement Policy, which was adopted in November 2017, provided additional guidelines regarding the credit the Department will provide to companies that self‑report FCPA violations and then cooperate with the resulting investigation – including a presumption that self-reporting companies will not be criminally charged. Expanding use of the FCPA Enforcement Policy signals the Department’s perception of its success and a further effort by DOJ to encourage companies to self-report and cooperate. It also provides important guidance for companies faced with a variety of different types of investigations regarding the treatment they can expect, and tools to advocate before the Department for more favorable resolutions. Continue Reading DOJ Announces Expansion of Approach Encouraging Self Reporting and Cooperation
The recent uptick in the mergers and acquisitions market in Brazil comes at a time of great upheaval in Brazil. Brazil’s sweeping anticorruption investigation, which is more than three years old, has resulted in more than 844 search and seizure warrants, 201 arrest warrants, 158 whistleblower agreements, and 10 corporate settlements (known in Brazil as “leniency agreements”) with some of the largest companies in Brazil. Some companies implicated in the scandal have been forced to restructure or file for bankruptcy as a result of their involvement.
Fortunately there is a well-worn path, informed by past settlements as well as guidance from U.S. regulators, that helps investors either avoid buying tainted companies or lessen the risk of exposure to corruption-related liability when making investments in tainted companies. To avoid or reduce these risks, investors need to be aware of and plan for circumstances unique to the Brazilian context. Appropriate diligence and early planning can help to minimize the risks and capitalize on the opportunities presented by the Brazil M&A market.
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This past year, which marked the 40th anniversary of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, saw significant anti-corruption developments in the United States and abroad, capped by the announcement of a new FCPA corporate enforcement policy by the U.S. Department of Justice. As the year began with a new administration, however, there was initially some uncertainty as to how much the new administration would prioritize FCPA enforcement. Perhaps wanting to put this concern to rest, President Trump’s appointees quickly emphasized that FCPA enforcement was “as alive as ever” with Attorney General Jeff Sessions promising that the DOJ would “continue to strongly enforce the FCPA and other anti-corruption laws.” While there were fewer total FCPA corporate resolutions in 2017 than in 2016, the DOJ concluded two of the largest global settlements in FCPA history this year. The DOJ also demonstrated a continued and expanded focus on anti-corruption compliance, aided by its issuance in February of new guidance on how the DOJ would evaluate the effectiveness of compliance programs.
This memo examines some of these key FCPA developments in greater detail and provides our analysis of what their impact may be in 2018.
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In a significant development for companies relating to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), in late November the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a new FCPA Corporate Enforcement Policy (the Enforcement Policy).
The Enforcement Policy is designed to encourage companies to voluntarily disclose misconduct by providing greater transparency concerning the amount of credit the DOJ will give to companies that self-report, fully cooperate and appropriately remediate misconduct. Notably, in announcing the Enforcement Policy, the DOJ highlighted the continued critical role that anti-corruption compliance programs play in its evaluation of eligibility under the Enforcement Policy. Continue Reading The New DOJ FCPA Corporate Enforcement Policy Highlights the Continued Importance of Anti-Corruption Compliance