Richard L. Cassin Publisher and Editor

Andy Spalding Senior Editor

Jessica Tillipman Senior Editor

Elizabeth K. Spahn Editor Emeritus

Cody Worthington Contributing Editor

Julie DiMauro Contributing Editor

Thomas Fox Contributing Editor

Marc Alain Bohn Contributing Editor

Bill Waite Contributing Editor

Shruti J. Shah Contributing Editor

Russell A. Stamets Contributing Editor

Richard Bistrong Contributing Editor 

Eric Carlson Contributing Editor

Bill Steinman Contributing Editor

Aarti Maharaj Contributing Editor

FCPA Blog Daily News


Headwinds In London

SFO Director Richard Alderman: Good job, don't do it again. A senior Crown Court judge on Friday warned the head of Britain's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) that he doesn't have the legal authority to settle corruption prosecutions with plea bargains.

The judge's comments raise doubts about the SFO's ability to cooperate with the DOJ and SEC in crafting global settlements for companies that agree to plead guilty. And companies seeking joint settlements may now fear being fined twice for the same offenses.

Lord Justice Thomas, Britain's second-ranking criminal judge, was speaking during a hearing involving the British division of Innospec, Inc., the Delaware-based chemical maker that in mid-March reached a global settlement with U.S. prosecutors and the SFO.

The judge approved the U.K. plea deal and penalty but said the $12.7 million fine the SFO agreed with Innospec was inadequate and went beyond the SFO's authority. In the U.S., Innospec agreed with the DOJ to pay a $14.1 million criminal fine and disgorge $11.2 million in profits to the SEC. It also agreed to pay $2.2 million to the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control for violating America's embargo against Cuba.

According to the Independent, the judge, who's the deputy head of criminal justice, said: “I have concluded that the director of the SFO had no power to enter into the arrangements made and no such arrangements should be made again.”

The Financial Times (registration required) reported Lord Justice Thomas as saying that "while [SFO director] Alderman's 'vigorous prosecution' of Cheshire-based Innospec was praiseworthy, the director had exceeded his powers in the course of striking a joint deal with the U.S. authorities over the total penalty of just over $40 million the company would pay. The judge said he confirmed the U.K. part of the fine 'reluctantly,' as it was 'wholly inadequate' and should have been in the tens of millions for a 'very serious' offence."

The judge said under English law only judges can impose sentences. “This has always been the position under the law of England and Wales. Agreements and submissions of the type put forward in this case can have no effect,” he said, according to the Times.

Judge Thomas' remarks also open the possibility that BAE's settlement with the SFO may come under judicial fire. The company agreed in February to a U.K. penalty of £30 million. At the same time, it agreed with the DOJ to a U.S. criminal fine of $400 million.

In the U.S., plea bargains also need court approval. However, judges usually defer to the DOJ and SEC and accept the terms those agencies agree with defendants.


Not All Corruption Is Created Equal

In the latest edition of Foreign Policy magazine, Ray Fisman, a professor at the Columbia Business School, has a short commentary with an unusual slant: Corruption that's predictable and stable is easy for investors to deal with and may not do that much harm to local economies.

He's not saying corruption is ever a good thing. Just that some corruption -- the knowable kind -- isn't as damaging as graft that surprises and spooks investors. His example of the latter: China's arrest and trial of four Rio Tinto employees.

"The Bad Kind of Corruption" can be found here. Here's the lead:

By the end of President Suharto's 30-year rule in 1998, Indonesia ranked as one of the half-dozen most corrupt economies on the planet, according to Transparency International (TI). Yet in those three decades, the country also experienced growth in per capita income of 6 percent per year, a rate almost unparalleled in recorded human history. The past 30 years have seen comparable economic progress in China: since the 1976 death of Mao Zedong, the Chinese economy has eclipsed even Suharto-level growth rates despite also holding position 79 in TI's latest ranking, tied with Burkina Faso.

We hit a similar note in the Wall Street Journal's Asia edition in 1998, saying:

An American executive working in Jakarta complained to me in 1992 that every time he tried to do anything, one of Mr. Suharto’s kids or cronies would show up and demand a piece of the action. He said it happened on everything, from a $100 million project to routine purchase orders. It was easy to do business in the Philippines during Marcos’s time, likewise in Iran during the Shah’s or Nicaragua during Somoza’s. Foreign investors cut through the red tape by working with one of the few wired local partners. Well-greased insider deals always look good at the time, but are usually too good to be true.

Ray Fisman is right. No corruption is good but it's not all created equal.


Tesler Loses Extradition Hearing

A judge in London said Thursday the U.K. lawyer accused of being a middleman in KBR's bribery of Nigerian officials should be extradited to the U.S. to face trial.

Jeffrey Tesler, 61, a U.K. citizen, was indicted in February 2009 by a federal grand jury in Houston. He was charged with one count of conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and ten substantive FCPA offenses. If convicted on all counts, he faces up to 55 years in prison. U.K. police, acting at the request of U.S. authorities, arrested Tesler in March 2009.

The Guardian newspaper's Rob Evans said the judge "rejected Tesler's argument that it would be 'unjust and oppressive' to send him to America as prosecutors had taken a long time to charge him. He argued that he would no longer be able to get a fair trial in the US. However the judge pointed out that he was responsible for part of this delay, as he had hired lawyers to block prosecutors obtaining evidence from Switzerland. Prosecutors, who have been investigating the allegations for at least seven years, say that the corrupt payments were laundered via bank accounts there and in Monaco."

The U.S. indictment charged Tesler with using his Gibraltar company, Tri-Star Investments, to funnel about $132 million in bribes to Nigerian officials. The payments were intended to secure contracts worth more than $6 billion to build liquefied natural gas facilities on Nigeria's Bonny Island. The DOJ said Tesler was acting for a joint venture known as TSKJ, equally owned by KBR, Technip of France, Snamprogetti of Italy, and JGC of Japan.

A year ago, Houston-based KBR pleaded guilty to one conspiracy count and four substantive counts of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act through its role in TSKJ. It also settled civil charges with the SEC. KBR's criminal fine was $402 million and, with its former parent Halliburton, it agreed to pay the SEC $177 million in disgorgement.

French company Technip said last month it has reserved €245 million for a potential settlement of FCPA offenses with the Justice Department and SEC for its role in the TSKJ Nigeria joint venture. A few weeks later, Italian energy giant ENI, Snamprogetti's former owner, said it had reserved €250 million for a possible FCPA settlement.

Tesler has argued that the case against him has no connection to the U.S. because the bribery didn't originate or happen there. But lawyers for the U.K. and U.S. governments argued that U.S.-based companies were involved and money had been channelled through U.S. bank accounts.

In his indictment, the U.S. also said Tesler was subject to the FCPA as an "agent" of an "issuer," of a "domestic concern," and of a "person," all within the meaning of the FCPA (Title 15, U.S.C. §§78dd- 1, 78dd-2, and 78dd-3). 

The Guardian said Tesler's lawyers plan to appeal and that the review process would be "lengthy."


Freeh Named Daimler Monitor

Former FBI director Louis Freeh will act as compliance monitor to German vehicle-maker Daimler AG, which is expected to obtain court approval on April 1st for its settlement with the Justice Department of two FCPA-related charges.

Freeh is nominated to be monitor in the deferred prosecution agreement the government filed in federal district court in Washington on Wednesday. His term will be three years.

Daimler is expected to pay $185 million to resolve bribery-related charges with the DOJ and SEC -- $93.6 million for a criminal fine and $91.4 million in civil penalties.

Download a copy of the government's sentencing memorandum in U.S. v. Daimler AG here.

Download a copy of Daimler's deferred prosecution agreement here.

Download the March 22, 2010 two-count criminal information in U.S. v. Daimler AG here.

Our thanks to Washington, D.C.'s Marc Alain Bohn for his help with this post.


Where To Look

Be sure to check out Shearman & Sterling's searchable data base here. It's utterly amazing and free to use. Searches return cases, pleadings, dollar amounts, countries involved, dispositions, and related actions. It's like their original FCPA Digest, but in liquid form. A wonderful new public resource.

Philip Urofsky, who heads the project, told us "the new 'Digest 2.0' should be a useful tool for companies in evaluating risk by region, industry, and enforcement trends." He said his group will keep the data base current and as comprehensive as possible with original pleadings.

On top of that, the latest version of the firm's "Trends and Patterns in the Enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act" is now available, along with the March 10, 2010 .pdf edition of the FCPA Digest. Both are here.

Authors Urofsky and Dan Newcomb always bring a fresh perspective. In the latest Trends, they wonder how the DOJ's FCPA trial teams will cope with the recent indictment of so many individuals:

Senior DOJ and SEC officials of the Obama Administration have repeatedly promised a robust program of enforcement, including proactive initiatives focusing on specific business sectors, particularly the pharmaceutical industry. Nevertheless, the DOJ’s focus on individuals will undoubtedly have an impact on enforcement in the coming year. As of March 1, the DOJ has 38 individuals awaiting trial; some, such as the six Control Components defendants charged with a single conspiracy, will potentially be tried together, while others, such as the 22 defendants in the law enforcement supply cases, are likely to stand trial separately. Trials drain resources, and although we expect that the DOJ’s Fraud Section will call upon other parts of the Department for assistance, it is likely to be stretched thin in the near future.

And somehow anticipating the DOJ's comments about Daimler, they ruminate on the questionable role played by corporate law departments, as described in some pre-Daimler enforcement actions:

The SEC similarly expressed concerns about the fairly passive role of AGCO’s legal department. For example, the SEC noted that, in addition to allowing the Iraqi contracts to be executed without legal review, the legal department was aware that the company was doing business in Iraq, a country then subject to U.S. economic sanctions, yet it “failed to ensure that the sanctions or the U.N. rules and regulations were followed.” Further, the company did not conduct any due diligence on the agent nor did it provide or require the agent to take FCPA training nor did its agreement with the agent accurately describe his services and payment terms or include FCPA language.

We're grateful to Philip Urofsky and Dan Newcomb, as we have been for years, for making these resources available to the compliance community.


Daimler Deal Reported

The New York Times's DealBook says in a post today that "Daimler has agreed to pay about $185 million in fines, and two of its subsidiaries will plead guilty to bribing foreign government officials, to settle a multiyear corruption investigation." Parent-company Daimler AG "will avoid indictment," the report said.

The DealBook post was based on a story in the Times by Charlie Savage. He reported that "Daimler has agreed to pay a $96.3 million criminal fine and a $91.4 million civil fine, along with entering a consent decree with the Securities and Exchange Commission." His source requested anonymity.

The government hasn't commented. A hearing is scheduled for April 1 before U.S. district judge Richard J. Leon in Washington.

A possible $200 million settlement involving two subsidiaries was first reported in February. A Daimler spokesperson said then: “We are in discussions with the DOJ and the SEC regarding consensually resolving the agencies’ investigations.”

See our posts here, here and here.


Code Named Ruthenium

The U.K.'s Serious Fraud Office today reported in dramatic fashion the arrest of three top executives of French industrial giant Alstom's British unit. They're suspected of paying bribes overseas to win contracts.

After today's arrests, the company said:

Several Alstom offices in the United Kingdom have been raided on Wednesday 24 March by police officers and some of its local managers are being questioned. The police apparently executed search warrants upon the request of the Swiss Federal justice. Alstom has been investigated by the Swiss justice for more than 3 years on the motive of alleged bribery issues. Within this frame, Alstom’s offices in Switzerland and France have already been searched in the past years. Alstom is cooperating with the British authorities.

In August 2008, we reported that Swiss police had arrested a former Alstom manager and searched for evidence as part of a corruption and money-laundering investigation. Offices near Zurich and in Baden were raided, as were homes in several cantons.

Another international investigation of Alstrom involving suspected corrupt payments in Asia and South America between 1995 and 2003 has been ongoing. Reports in May 2008 said Swiss authorities found evidence Alstom paid around €20 million via shell companies to agents and others in Singapore, Indonesia, Venezuela and Brazil. Reports also mentioned payments of $6.8 million in connection with a $45 million contract for the Sao Paolo subway and a Brazilian energy plant.

The press said in June 2008 that French judges had charged a former Alstom consultant for his role in suspected overseas bribes. The company apparently appeared as a civil plaintiff in that case, claiming it may have been a victim of embezzlement.

Paris-based Alstom is a global leader in equipment and services for power generation and high-speed rail transport. It operates in more than 70 countries with about 80,000 employees. Revenues last year were €18.7 billion. It has an office in Windsor, Connecticut and its securities trade in the pink sheets (Other OTC: AOMFF.PK).

Here's the full text of the today's SFO release:

Three members of the Board of Alstom in the U.K. have been arrested on suspicion of bribery and corruption, conspiracy to pay bribes, money laundering and false accounting, and have been taken to police stations to be interviewed by the Serious Fraud Office.

Earlier this morning search warrants were executed at Alstom business premises and residential addresses at locations in Warwickshire, Leicestershire, Cheshire, Shropshire, Derbyshire, Staffordshire and London. This operation has involved 109 SFO staff and 44 police officers and Accredited Financial Investigators from Warwickshire, Leicestershire, Cheshire, West Mercia and Staffordshire Police Forces and the Metropolitan Police Service. The three men arrested during this operation are aged 52, 51 and 44.

Code-named Operation Ruthenium, the investigation by the SFO is into the suspected payment of bribes by companies within the Alstom group in the U.K. It is suspected that bribes have been paid in order to win contracts overseas, and that this has involved associated money laundering and other offences. The SFO has been working closely with the Office of the Attorney General and Federal Police in Switzerland and a number of Police Forces in the U.K.

Commenting on today's action, SFO Director Richard Alderman said, "The SFO is committed to tackling corruption. We are working closely with other criminal justice organisations across the world and are taking steps to encourage companies to report any suspicions of corruption, either within their own business or by other companies or individuals."


Daimler Charged For Bribery [Updated]

Germany's Daimler AG has been charged in a criminal information with Foreign Corrupt Practices Act-related violations involving "at least 22 countries over almost a decade." China, Croatia, Egypt, Greece, Hungary, Indonesia, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Latvia, Nigeria, Russia, Serbia, Montenegro, Thailand, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam are among the countries mentioned.

The company faces one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA (18 U.S.C. §371) and one count of violating the books and records provisions (15  U.S.C. §§78m(b)(2)(A), 78m(b)(5), and 78ff(a), and 18 U.S.C. §2).

The 76-page information recounts years of systematic payments and gifts made through third-parties, many of them shell companies, to state-owned customers and government officials, including Changquing Petroleum Exploration Bureau, and Sinopec, both in China. In Turkmenistan, it gave a government official "an armored Mercedes Benz S class passenger car, valued at more than €300,000, for his birthday." Bribes in Iraq also violated the U.N.'s oil for food program.

Daimler's top brass knew about the bribery. The criminal information describes a 1999 meeting of the Board of Management:

[P]articipants in the meeting discussed that adopting such policies (and stopping the practice of making "useful payments") would result in Daimler losing business in certain countries. At that meeting, an integrity code with anti-bribery provisions was adopted. However, Daimler subsequently failed to make sufficient efforts to enforce the code, train employees on compliance with the FCPA or other applicable anti-bribery statutes, audit the use of [third-party accounts], or otherwise attempt to ensure that the company was not continuing to make improper payments in order to obtain or retain government business overseas.

In February, Daimler was reported to be close to settlement with U.S. authorities and ready to pay about $200 million.

The DOJ's filing of a criminal information instead of an indictment usually indicates a settlement has been reached, subject to court approval. A hearing is scheduled for April 1 in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

A Daimler spokesperson said in February: “We are in discussions with the DOJ and the SEC regarding consensually resolving the agencies’ investigations.” See our posts here and here.

The information says before 2005, Daimler -- despite being an "issuer" since 1993 and subject to the FCPA, despite having by then "more than 270,000 employees and 60 affiliates and business units that sold vehicles to governments and government-related entities in many high-risk countries for corruption" -- had a feeble compliance program. There was no head of compliance; legal and accounting people reported directly to sales executives; the audit department was small and chronically understaffed; cash controls were absent -- employees could draw tens of thousands of dollars with little justification or oversight; the selection, use, and payment of agents was largely unregulated; employees received inadequate compliance training, and whistleblower hotlines were decentralized.

The FCPA investigation into Daimler began in 2004, triggered by the firing of an alleged whistleblower from the audit group at DaimlerChrysler Corp., Daimler's former U.S. affiliate.

"In total," the information alleges, "the transactions with a territorial connection to the United States resulted in over $50,000,000 pre-tax profits for Daimler."

Download the March 22, 2010 two-count criminal information in U.S. v. Daimler AG here.

Our thanks to Washington, D.C.'s Marc Alain Bohn for his help with this post.


Speaking Freely

The Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of VirginiaThe Miller Center of Public Affairs [at the University of Virginia] has a long tradition of luring influential people to speak to engaged citizens, but this genteel practice degenerated on Friday, March 19, at an appearance by the lawyer who wrote the infamous “torture memos” that the Bush Administration used to justify waterboarding terrorist suspects. While irate audience members shouted at the interrupters, the Center’s programs director, George Gilliam, scolded disruptive protesters during the talk by University of California at Berkeley law professor John Yoo. -- Uncivil discourse: Protesters disrupt Yoo at Miller Center, The Hook

*   *   *

Free speech is something most Americans say they believe in. But some don't act that way. Shouting down a speaker because his or her view is unpopular isn't free speech. It's using more volume to drown out less volume. If we're honest, many of us would say we believe in free speech for ourselves but not for our neighbors. That's why we all need the First Amendment.

*   *   *

Andy Spalding's views of FCPA enforcement as a de facto economic sanction against developing countries aren't always popular. But they force us to look again at national and global anti-corruption policy. We think Stephanie Connor's response to Andy's most recent comments in this space sum up the counter-argument nicely. She says,

Dear Andy,

Don’t get me wrong, I think your analysis of the FCPA as a de facto sanction is downright brilliant. But we have to distinguish between increases in investment and decreases in poverty. As many commentators have noted over the last several decades, foreign direct investment does not impact poverty because of corruption. This is one of the most significant factors playing into the relationship between resource wealth and economic failure. Corruption prevents the proceeds of investment from spreading throughout an economy because it creates strong incentives for political actors to control the access to resources. 

Moreover, we cannot gloss over the practical realities that “black-knights” will face when they invest in corrupt economies, and what that means for long-term investment. For example, when the Angolan government rejected IMF funding in 2007, China stepped in as Angola’s benefactor. But the Chinese government soon grew exasperated with the rampant corruption, and demanded greater transparency.

You and I agree that we need robust international anti-corruption enforcement. But others are abusing a short-term analysis of the FCPA's impact on investment to reach the opposite conclusion. I’m referring to a recent suggestion that FCPA enforcement will undermine Haiti’s recovery. For the first time in its sad history, Haiti is getting some attention from the international community, an influx of donor money, and an opportunity to rebuild. This is not the time to advocate for bribery.

No amount of FCPA enforcement will completely stamp out corruption. There will always be local officials who demand bribes, and there will always be free-riding foreign companies who choose to ignore the law. The FCPA seeks to punish comparatively wealthy actors who benefit from and sustain a lack of transparency. We should give the law some time to work.


Stephanie Connor


That's Right, Follow The Money

It's hard to bribe a foreign official without someone laundering the money. That's why money-laundering charges are part of most FCPA cases. Each shot-show defendant, for example, was charged with conspiracy to launder money. And it's why the DOJ uses the same law against corrupt foreign officials, as in the recent Haiti telco case. (The FCPA doesn't reach bribe takers, only bribe payers.)

The U.S. anti-money laundering law is 18 U.S.C. §1956. It packs a wallop -- a fine of a half million dollars or more, and up to 20 years in prison. (Jail terms for FCPA anti-bribery violations are five years maximum.)

What's a money-laundering offense? Knowingly using money that comes from an illegal activity; trying to conceal or disguise the nature, location, source, ownership, or control of the proceeds of unlawful activity; or trying to avoid reporting a transaction that has to be reported under state or federal law.

Foreigners are subject to the U.S. anti-money laundering law if any part of their transaction happens in the U.S., if they use property in which the U.S. has an interest (through a judgment, lien, or court order), or if they maintain a bank account at a financial institution in the U.S.

Just as bribery usually involves money laundering, money laundering usually involves tax evasion. Again in the Haiti telco case, it was the IRS's Miami field office that investigated Robert Antoine, the former director of international affairs for Haiti telco, who lived in both Miami and Haiti. He pleaded guilty last week to a money-laundering conspiracy (same statute; same potential penalties).

Evidence of money laundering often leads to discovery of other crimes. On its extensive AML website, the University of Exeter says:

Although money laundering is a threat to the good functioning of a financial system, it can also be the Achilles heel of criminal activity. In law enforcement investigations of organised criminal activity, it is frequently the connections made through financial transaction records that allow hidden assets to be located and that establish the identity of the criminals and the criminal organisation involved.

The DOJ hasn't said how often it finds FCPA offenses through money-laundering investigations.  


What They're Saying

Get ready for even more FCPA enforcement against individuals. The DOJ's Mark Mendelsohn was quoted this week by Reuters as saying:

"If you look at who we're prosecuting, we're prosecuting mid-level to senior level corporate officers and employees, CEOs, CFOs, heads of international sales. My point is these are people with significant positions in companies."

*   *   *

Innospec's docs. Thanks to the kindness of a reader, the criminal information, sentencing memo, and plea agreement can now be downloaded from our post here.

*   *   *

For the record. Andy Spalding, whose provocative comments appear in this space from time to time, has never said graft is good. Our over-zealous headline writers came up with that silly phrase.

Andy himself says: "I certainly don't believe that 'graft is good' . . . I do believe, though, that our efforts to reduce bribery can, quite unintentionally, sometimes produce bad results.  But fortunately, we need not choose between enforcing the FCPA or not.  Rather, we should develop an approach to enforcement that is more sensitive to the reality of collateral damage in economically desperate countries, one that punishes bribery without punishing the citizens, for example, of Haiti."

*     *    *

What time is it there? Expanding cooperation between the DOJ and the U.K.'s Serious Fraud Office is one of the year's most important FCPA enforcement trends. How's it working? We don't really know. But it brought to mind this clip from Extras.


Executive Action At Innospec

Photo by MJCdetroitWhat stands out about Innospec's FCPA guilty plea yesterday is the hands-on role former top managers had in the criminal activity. For nearly a decade they used bribery as just another sales tool, a manipulative and cynical revenue spinner, and did what they could to cover it up.

By 2000, the company's flagship product, TEL, an additive used only in leaded gasoline, was in trouble. The market was drying up after the U.S. and other countries ordered the switch to cleaner, healthier unleaded fuels. But under their go-team bosses, Innospec's salesmen and agents began paying bribes to move TEL into mainly third-world markets.

The SEC's complaint said "Innospec’s former management did nothing to stop the bribery, and in fact authorized and encouraged it."

An email from a former agent in October 2005 to Innospec’s then business director and another executive said Iraqi officials were demanding a 2% kickback on sales. The e-mail said: “We are sharing most of our profits with Iraqi officials. Otherwise, our business will stop and we will lose the market. We have to change our strategy and do more compensation to get the rewards.” 

The Business Director authorized over $195,000 in bribes, and in an e-mail discussing the wording of the invoice, said: "The fewer words the better!”

Innospec acted like a classic corrupter. According to the SEC complaint, it paid lavish travel and entertainment expenses for Iraqi officials, including a seven day honeymoon. It handed out mobile phone cards and cameras and paid thousands in cash for “pocket money.”  It even paid bribes to ensure the failure of a 2006 field test of MMT, a fuel product manufactured by a competitor.

In Indonesia, the bribes to push TEL sales came when the country was planning to go unleaded. At government-linked BP Migas, Innospec paid “special commissions” to a Swiss account and a “one off payment” of $300,000. The greed was mutual. The SEC said one Indonesian official indicated he would assist Innospec in landing TEL sales but he wanted more than just “cents” in return.

The case is far from over. The DOJ said as part of its guilty plea, the company "agreed to fully cooperate with the Department of Justice and other U.S. and foreign authorities in ongoing investigations of corrupt payments by Innospec employees and agents."

Download a copy of the SEC's civil complaint here.

View the DOJ's March 18, 2010 release here.

Copies of the criminal information, sentencing memorandum, and plea agreement can be download from our post here.