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Entries in Faro Technologies (10)

Tuesday
Aug172010

Watching For Whistleblowers

In its quarterly report released August 9, SciClone Pharmaceuticals, Inc. said it received an SEC subpoena and a letter from the DOJ investigating the "sale, licensing and marketing of its products in foreign countries, including China."

According to SciClone, the DOJ said it was looking at FCPA issues in the pharmaceutical industry generally, and had received information about SciClone's practices suggesting possible violations.

A reader was curious about the timing of SciClone's announcement. Less than a month ago, President Obama signed into law the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. It authorizes payments of 10% to 30% for recoveries of at least a million dollars based on information about violations of the securities laws, including the FCPA.

So we asked SciClone if the FCPA investigation was triggered by a recent whistleblower complaint. Ana Kapor, the firm's director of investor relations and corporate communications, answered quickly but said only: "We are not able to comment on this topic beyond what we included in our filings earlier this week."

Is this the first FCPA-related whistleblower case under the new reward program? Or is it, as most assume, part of the year-old investigation of drug makers that already targeted GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca, and Merck? Or is it both? There's no way to tell until someone involved goes on the record.

SciClone Pharmaceuticals, Inc. trades on NASDAQ under the symbol SCLN.

*     *     *

A slice of the FCPA pie. In his August 16 article about FCPA-related civil suits, Forbes' Nathan Vardi correctly says there's no private right of action under the FCPA. So plaintiff lawyers look for other ways to sue directors and officers for their company's overseas bribery.

Results of the suits have been mixed but some have produced big settlements. He lists Faro Technologies, which paid $6.9 million; Nature’s Sunshine, which paid $6 million; Immucor, $2.5 million; and Syncor, $15.5 million. And he says plaintiff lawyers are prowling for more targets by following SEC and DOJ leads -- including Weatherford International, Parker Drilling, Avon Products, and Pride International.

Ther article is Plaintiff Lawyers Join The Bribery Racket.

Tuesday
Aug032010

Cracking Open The FCPA's Secrets

Law firm Hughes Hubbard & Reed, a sponsor of the FCPA Blog, has released its FCPA/Anti-Bribery Mid-Year Alert 2010.

The authors say it's both a quick desk reference and -- at 241 pages -- an authoritative collection of FCPA resources. They're right.

There's exhaustive enforcement-related information -- DOJ and SEC actions, DOJ opinion procedure releases, civil suits and related litigation, and domestic and foreign investigations. There's also plenty of high-level analysis of what's going on with enforcement and compliance. (The "Lessons Learned" section is particularly strong.)

Kevin Abikoff, one of the partners responsible for the Alert, said: "We developed it originally as a comprehensive internal resource for our lawyers and clients. On reflection, we decided to open-source it to the compliance community and beyond. We hope people will find it useful. And we're happy to be able to make a contribution."

Here, for example, is what it says about a subject we've never covered -- management changes:

In certain circumstances, regulators may use enforcement actions as a tool to force a change in management where the regulators believe management is insufficiently attuned to FCPA concerns. Regulators may also reward companies that change management in response to findings of misconduct or seek lesser penalties where management changed before the misconduct came to light. For example, the DOJ praised Siemens for its remedial efforts, including that it “replaced nearly all of its top leadership.” Similarly, in the case of Bristow, the misconduct was discovered by the company’s newly-appointed CEO, and the SEC imposed no monetary penalty on the company. (See, e.g., Technip, Siemens, Schnitzer, Bristow)

On the puzzle of FCPA jurisdiction, it says:

As the Siemens settlement (among others) confirms, U.S. regulators continue to take an expansive jurisdictional view as to the applicability of the FCPA. The charging documents applicable to Siemens Venezuela, Siemens Bangladesh, and Siemens Argentina detail connections, but not particularly close or ongoing connections, between the alleged improper conduct and the United States. Similarly, the United States government has continued to seek the extradition of Jeffrey Tesler and Wojciech Chodan, both United Kingdom citizens who were indicted for their involvement in the Bonny Island, Nigeria bribery scheme and who are described in the charging documents as “agents” of a domestic concern. Clearly, regulators in what they deem to be appropriate circumstances, will look carefully for hooks to establish U.S. jurisdiction over perceived violations of anti-corruption legislation.

And on parent-company liability for foreign subsidiaries, it says:

The U.S. Government will prosecute parent companies based on the conduct of even far-removed foreign subsidiaries and even in the absence of alleged knowledge or direct participation of the parent company in the improper conduct. As a result, as the Willbros Group and several Oil-for-Food settlements make clear, companies must ensure that their anti-corruption compliance policies and procedures are implemented throughout the corporate structure and are extended quickly to newly acquired subsidiaries. (See, e.g., Fiat, Faro, Willbros Group, AB Volvo, Flowserve, Westinghouse, Akzo Nobel, Ingersoll-Rand, York, Bristow, Paradigm, Textron, Delta & Pine, Dow).

The FCPA/Anti-Bribery Mid-Year Alert 2010 was written by Hughes Hubbard & Reed partners Kevin T. Abikoff, John F. Wood, and Gregory M. Williams.

Sunday
Aug302009

Former Faro Salesman Settles With SEC

The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a settled enforcement action Friday against Oscar H. Meza, the former sales director in Asia for Faro Technologies, Inc. Florida-based Faro designs, develops, and markets software and portable computerized measurement devices. The SEC's civil complaint alleged that Meza "authorized bribery payments to employees of Chinese state-owned companies in order to obtain contracts, and that in order to conceal the bribes Meza instructed that account entries be altered."

He was charged with violating the FCPA's antibribery provisions (Section 30A of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 [15 U.S.C. §78dd-1]), the books and records and internal control provisions (Section 13(b)(5) ofthe Exchange Act and Exchange Act Rule 13b21 [15 U.S.C. § 78m(b)(5) and 17 C.F.R. § 240.13b2-1]), and with aiding and abetting Faro's violations of the anti-bribery, books and records, and internal controls provisions.

The SEC's complaint alleged that beginning in 2004, Meza authorized a former employee of Faro's China subsidiary to make the improper payments. Faro China paid $444,492 in bribes from 2004 through 2006, generating about $4.5 million in sales and $1.4 million in net profit.

Meza will pay a $30,000 civil penalty and $26,707 in disgorgement and prejudgment interest. He's also permanently enjoined from future FCPA violations

In June 2008, his employer Faro resolved FCPA charges with the Justice Department and the SEC. The DOJ settlement required the company to pay a $1.1 million criminal penalty and enter into a two-year non-prosecution agreement that included appointment of a compliance monitor. In settling with the SEC, Faro paid about $1.85 million in disgorgement and prejudgment interest. It self-reported the violations in China to U.S. authorities in March 2006. See our post here.

View the SEC's Litigation Release No. 21190 and Accounting and Auditing Enforcement Release No. 3041 (both dated August 28, 2009) here.

Download a copy of the SEC's complaint in SEC v. Oscar H. Meza, Civil Action No. 1:09-CV-01648 (D.D.C.) (Filed August 28, 2009) here.
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Monday
Mar022009

The SEC Takes It Back

Disgorging profits is a common and prominent feature these days in Foreign Corrupt Practices Act settlements with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Last year Siemens disgorged $350 million and this year KBR paid $177 million. Maybe because disgorgements now happen so often, or because the payments have become so enormous, we automatically accept them as a suitable remedy. We don't question why the SEC uses disgorgement, where the remedy came from, or where it's going.

But at least one person has asked those questions. He's David C. Weiss (Dartmouth College, Michigan Law School), student-author of an extended note in the January 17, 2009 edition of the Michigan Journal of International Law.

According to Weiss, disgorgement never appeared in an FCPA enforcement action until just five years ago. That's right -- 27 years passed without a single FCPA-related disgorgement order. Then, in 2004, ABB Vetco Gray, Inc. paid $16.4 million in disgorgement and prejudgment interest. Next came Titan Corp. in 2005, paying $15.5 million. That same year, Diagnostics Products Corp. disgorged $2.8 million and DPC (Tianjin) Co. Ltd. $2.8 million. In 2006, Schnitzer Steel Industries, Inc. disgorged $7.7 million and Statoil $10.5 million. In 2007, Baker Hughes Inc. disgorged $23 million, El Paso Corp. $5.5 million, and York International $10 million.

Want to hear the rest? In 2008, Fiat disgorged $7.2 million, Siemens $350 million, Faro Technologies $1.8 million, Willbros $10.3 million, AB Volvo $19.6 million, Flowserve $3.2 million, and Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies Corp. $289,000. And so far this year, ITT Corporation has disgorged $1.4 million, and KBR $177 million.

Disgorgement, then, has a short but intense history in FCPA enforcement actions, and it seems to have appeared out of the blue. As Weiss puts it, "The SEC has developed the 'law' of disgorgement with neither the input, contemplation, nor blessing of Congress, and it is for this reason that one should ask normative questions about the role of disgorgement in the future enforcement of the prohibition on foreign bribery."

He points out that the SEC began requiring disgorgement just when other countries (with U.S. encouragement) started enacting their own extra-territorial anti-corruption laws. So here's the question: When more than one country enforces antibribery laws against a single company, which jurisdictions, if any, should use disgorgement as a remedy? Who decides, for example, if Siemens should forfeit ill-gotten gains to the United States Treasury or the German Chancellery? How about Italy or Norway, Greece or Argentina?

Weiss looks at laws around the world aimed at punishing foreign public bribery, and particularly those with disgorgement-like remedies. "The penal codes of at least twenty-one countries," he says, "include provisions for 'forfeiture' or 'confiscation' of the proceeds of a crime, or they base the amount of a fine on such proceeds." His survey shows just how new most of the laws are -- the majority coming into force either following enactment of the OECD anti-corruption convention in 1998 or after the events of 9/11 in 2001.

There's no evidence, Weiss says, that "Congress intended that the SEC pursue disgorgement as it has done since 2004. This fact alone should at least make one question the normative function of disgorgement." Disgorgement, he says, wasn't mentioned when the FCPA was first debated and adopted in 1977, nor when Congress amended the law in 1988 or 1998. Weiss himself doesn't say the SEC lacks the legal mandate to pursue disgorgement or that the remedy is somehow improper. But he does point out that the "lack of any statement that disgorgement should be part of the SEC’s enforcement arsenal, and the rarity of the remedy at the time that Congress passed the FCPA and its amendments, are reasons that some commentators have used to question the impropriety of the remedy."

It's great to see the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act as the object of some fresh research and scholarship. And at 47 pages and 238 footnotes (a couple of which mention the FCPA Blog), Weiss' work is thorough and thoughtful.

The cite for the note is: Weiss, David C.,The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, SEC Disgorgement of Profits, and the Evolving International Bribery Regime: Weighing Proportionality, Retribution, and Deterrence, Michigan Journal of International Law, Vol. 30, No. 2 (January 17, 2009).

It's available from SSRN here.
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Tuesday
Jan272009

Dealing With The DOJ

The Justice Department resolves corporate FCPA enforcement actions these days by using deferred and non-prosecution agreements. And the go-to guys for information about them are Ryan McConnell, an Assistant United States Attorney in Houston, and Larry Finder, a partner in Houston with Haynes and Boone. They've identified, cataloged, analyzed and published findings about every "corporate pre-trial agreement" (their term) used from 1993 to 2008 -- all 112 of them.

They were joined for their latest study by Scott Mitchell, the head of the high-profile Open Compliance & Ethics Group, a nonprofit organization that helps member companies improve their culture by "integrating governance, risk management, and compliance processes."

In 2008, the authors say, there were just 16 deferred and non-prosecution agreements, down 60% from the record-setting 40 agreements in 2007. (From 2003-2006, there were 47 agreements; before 2003, there were just 9.) Seven of the 16 agreements last year related to Foreign Corrupt Practices Act settlements, compared with about a third in 2007. Last year's pre-trial agreements involved Sigue Corp., Jackson Country Club, WABTEC, Flowserve, AB Volvo, Willbros Group, AGA Medical, Faro Technologies, ESI, Milberg Weiss, Lawson Products, Republic Services, American Italian Pasta Co, Penn Traffic, IFCO and Fiat.

We asked Larry Finder a couple of questions about the 2008 study. Here's what he had to say:

The FCPA Blog: Why were the DPA / NPA numbers down so much last year?

Lary Finder: Your guess is as good as mine. It's possible that the DOJ was distracted with Congressional hearings and the possibility of federal legislation on the monitor issue, but I truly can't divine the reasons. It is equally as possible that in the post-9/11 environment, more investigatory resources, e.g., FBI and U.S. Attorney, have been concentrated on terrorism-related matters rather than fraud cases. I just don't know.

The FCPA Blog: Your 2008 study talks about the Justice Department's recent clarification [at United States Attorneys Manual 9-28.710] that it won't require waivers of attorney-client or attorney work-product privileges when determining corporate "cooperation." You also talk about the DOJ's new internal rules on the appointment of monitors and the ban on "extraordinary restitution" payments by corporate targets. Do the DOJ's internal rules have the force of law?

LF: As I recall, the DOJ often states (in its published monographs, for example) that its policies are generally not enforceable against the government. The federal case the Department often cites as authority for that proposition is United States v. Caceres, a Supreme Court case from the late 1970s. That being said, our analysis suggests that the Department has been abiding by its own waiver policy. We saw that the privilege waiver language in DPAs was the exception (statistics from 2007 showed only 3 waivers, while in 2008 we found but two) . Further, the Department has every incentive to avoid the perception of violating its own policies on privilege and monitors, lest the organized white collar bar again lobby for curative federal legislation. We'll have to wait and see.

* * *
Ellen Podgor at the White Collar Crime Prof Blog has already said, "This piece should be a must-read for in-house counsel and all attorneys working with companies on compliance programs." She's right. We don't know of any other way to get a clearer picture of what's going on with the DOJ's compliance agreements. This is practical information and a welcome bit of accountability.

The article can be downloaded now from SSRN here. It will appear in the May 2009 Corp. Counsel Rev. - Published by S. Tex. College Of Law, Volume XXVIII, No. 1.
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Thursday
Jan152009

China Notebook

This is the first deep economic downturn most Chinese have experienced, so fear and anger are in the air. A Bloomberg report yesterday quoted an editor of a state-run magazine in the southwestern city of Chongqing as saying, “We’re entering the peak of mass incidents. In 2009, Chinese society may face more conflicts and clashes that will test even more the governing capabilities of all levels of the party and government.”

* * *
Even in prosperous times, corruption undermines governments. But add severe financial stress to the mix and people look for someone to blame. It's no surprise, then, that fighting corruption emerged as a top priority at the Chinese Communist Party's 17th National Congress this week in Beijing. “The principle that everyone is equal before the law must be enforced and no corrupt official should be able to escape punishment under the law," the official Xinhua News Agency reported, quoting a communiqué from the Party's internal anti-graft body, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

* * *
China punished 4,960 officials above county-head level between November 2007 and November 2008 for involvement in corruption, bribery or other law-breaking activity, the communiqué trumpeted. Of those, 801 were prosecuted.

* * *
In May last year, the Sichuan earthquake killed about 100,000 people, including nearly 20,000 school children crushed in their classrooms. There were allegations then, denied by the government, that corrupt officials had allowed sub-par construction of school buildings. Then in September, in the afterglow of the Olympics, came news that Chinese milk and infant formula were contaminated with melamine, a chemical added to create fake levels of protein content. Nearly 300,000 kids became sick, many with kidney stones, and at least six infants died. Other product scandals last year involved tainted cough syrup, toys, seafood, toothpaste and dog food, among others. In July 2007, China executed the former top food and drug regulator for accepting nearly a million dollars in bribes in exchange for approving an antibiotic that killed at least ten people.

* * *
In the six months ended November 2008, there were more than 550 publicly-funded overseas trips. The authorities banned almost 4,000 Party and government officials from traveling abroad during the same period, and will crack down more in the year ahead, according to the above-mentioned communiqué said.

Last month we told about the three-week study tour to the U.S. by 23 officials from the eastern Chinese city of Wenzhou. In between beach days in Hawaii and sex shows in San Francisco, they spent just five days on government business. On the way to running up a bill of $94,000, the road-trippers crashed for two nights in $700 suites at the Sahara Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

* * *
This year's Wall Street Journal / Heritage Foundation Index of Economic Freedom ranks China 132nd (behind Indonesia and above Nepal). It says the country's corruption "is perceived as widespread. China ranks 72nd out of 179 countries in Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index for 2007. [The 2008 CPI is available here.] Corruption limits foreign direct investment and affects banking, finance, government procurement, and construction most severely, and there is a lack of independent investigative bodies and courts."

What country ranks first on the 2009 Index of Economic Freedom? Hong Kong, a Chinese Special Administrative Region with local rule. Corruption? It's "perceived as minimal. Hong Kong ranks 14th out of 179 countries in Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index for 2007 [12th in the 2008 CPI], and foreign firms do not see corruption as an obstacle to investment."

* * *
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement actions in 2008 involving China included AGA Medical Corporation, Faro Technologies Inc., Shu Quan-Sheng and Siemens. Avon last year disclosed an internal investigation of its practices in China, and FCPA Opinion Procedure Release 08-03 also concerned the PRC.
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Thursday
Jun052008

Faro Pays $2.95 Million For FCPA Settlement

Faro Technologies Inc. confirmed that it has resolved Foreign Corrupt Practices Act offenses with the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission. The DOJ settlement requires payment of a $1.1 million criminal penalty and entry into a two-year non-prosecution agreement with appointment of a compliance monitor. In settling with the SEC, Faro will pay about $1.85 million in disgorgement and prejudgment interest.

Florida-based Faro -- which designs, develops, and markets software and portable, computerized measurement devices -- self-disclosed potential FCPA violations in China to U.S. authorities in March 2006. It announced an anticipated settlement with prosecutors in its October 30, 2007 earnings release (see our post here).

Faro began selling its products directly to customers in China in 2003 through a Shanghai-based subsidiary, Faro China. In 2004 and 2005, a Faro employee authorized corrupt payments in the form of “referral fees” directly to employees of state-owned or controlled entities to secure business. It made illicit payments of $444,492 to obtain contracts worth about $4.9 million, and its net profit from the contracts was $1,411,306.

Faro employees routed the corrupt payments through a shell company to “avoid exposure,” according to internal e-mails. The employees also caused Faro China to enter into a bogus service contract with an intermediary, using it to pay the bribes. The intermediary aggregated the payments and invoiced Faro for reimbursement under the service contract. In its books and records, Faro falsely recorded the bribes as referral fees. The DOJ and SEC said the company failed to devise and maintain a system of internal controls for foreign sales sufficient to ensure compliance with the FCPA.

Faro's own documents, the DOJ said, revealed the extent of the bribery. "Profit lists" reflected the price of contracts and the costs of manufacture, along with line items for "referral fees" of 10%-15% of the contract price that were kickbacks to employees of state-owned customers. The DOJ gave the following examples:
A 2005 profit list for Purchase Order CH2005-VW34 for a purchase by Shanghai Turbine Generator Co., Ltd., a Chinese government entity, shows a contract value of $148,700 and an anticipated referral fee of $14,800, or approximately 10% of the contract value.

A 2005 profit list for Purchase Order Ch-2005-VW50(SW) for a purchase by Jiangxi Changhe Auto Co., Ltd. Hefel Plant, a Chinese government entity, shows a contract value of $53,086 and a referral fee of $8,000, or approximately 15% of the contract value.

Faro's non-prosecution agreement has a two-year term instead of the usual three years, presumably reflecting the company's prompt and detailed self-disclosure and effective corrective action. Faro said its estimated costs associated with the monitoring and stepped-up compliance obligations will be "in the range of $1 million to $2 million."

Neither Faro nor the DOJ explained why it took more than nine months to formally approve the previously announced settlement. We've speculated (here) that the Justice Department was delaying settlements involving compliance monitors, including Faro's, pending some accommodation with lawmakers on safeguards for the appointments. Controversy erupted last year after New Jersey U.S. Attorney Chris Christie appointed his former boss, ex-U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, as a monitor in a domestic bribery case for orthopedic device maker Zimmer Holdings Inc. The news that Mr. Ashcroft's firm could make as much as $52 million from the appointment sent shock waves around Capitol Hill and triggered Congressional hearings.

It appears from FCPA settlements announced in the past month involving Willbros, AGA Medical, and now Faro that monitor appointments are back on track. The solution appears to have been relatively simple. As with Willbros and AGA Medical, Faro will nominate its candidate to act as compliance monitor (after consulting with the DOJ), and the DOJ will have final approval over its choice. Provided the DOJ doesn't interfere directly and allows Faro and the other companies to pick their own qualified candidates, the selection is taken out of the hands of the DOJ. That should prevent the appearance of political abuse or cronyism in the appointments.

Faro Technologies, Inc. trades on NASDAQ under the symbol FARO.

View the DOJ's June 5, 2008 news release here.

View the SEC's Securities Exchange Act of 1934 Release No. 57933 / June 5, 2008, Accounting and Auditing Enforcement Release No. 2836 / June 5, 2008, and Administrative Proceeding File No. 3-13059 here.

View Faro's June 5, 2008 press release here.
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Thursday
Mar132008

The FCPA Takes A Holiday?

It's been a quiet time here at the FCPA Blog. Not much to report -- which isn't a bad thing. We've had a chance to clean our desk, get our shoes shined, and pick on Wikipedia. On that score, we even had time to submit some edits for Wiki's FCPA article. Now we're biting our nails, waiting for the editorial lords to make a ruling on our hoped-for alterations.

Still, we're wondering why it's so quiet, why the Department of Justice hasn't announced a deferred prosecution agreement since Flowserve's on February 21? We know from various public disclosures that companies are standing in line. Faro Technologies, Inc. is one of them (see our post here). Aon Corporation could be another (see our post here), and there are more.

We're not sure why there seems to be a moratorium on FCPA settlements right now. But it could be linked to what's happening in Washington. As we mentioned yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives' Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law is holding hearings this week. The hearings have the moniker: "Deferred Prosecution: Should Corporate Settlement Agreements Be Without Guidelines?" And sparks are flying.

It's fair to say that all aspects of deferred prosecution agreements are in play. Media attention has focused on the corporate monitorships. That's due mainly to New Jersey U.S. Attorney Chris Christie's appointment of his former boss, ex-U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, as a monitor for orthopedic device maker Zimmer Holdings Inc. The case involves domestic bribery. Mr. Ashcroft's firm could make as much as $52 million from the appointment. Not surprisingly, that ignited the controversy that now engulfs every aspect of the monitorships and even the idea of deferred prosecution agreements.

While the storm blows on Capitol Hill, the DOJ can't be anxious to announce any new agreements and monitorships just yet. And no company would want to get caught in the political crossfire by being part of a fresh settlement, just as potential monitors wouldn't risk an appointment while the flap over Mr. Ashcroft et al is in the news.

All this is speculation, to be sure. Perhaps the DOJ will make a formal announcement about what's happening, or at least send out some smoke signals, to let everyone know if we're in for a long wait. Meanwhile, we're off to get a haircut, wash the car and catch some zzzzzzzzz. What a life!

Thanks to photo.jacko.com for the great picture.

Wednesday
Jan302008

Another Look At China

Yesterday we talked about a recent story in the Chinese press blaming foreign companies for more than half of the PRC's corruption, and singling out U.S. companies that violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in China. On reflection, we may have been unduly skeptical about China's motives for publishing the story. So today we want to set the record straight.

To be clear, the PRC's economic policies and the results they've produced are phenomenal. Last year the country attracted nearly $75 billion in foreign direct investment. Total FDI has topped $700 billion. There are now some 120,000 foreign-invested enterprises in the PRC, double the number from just 2002. The economy is still growing at over 11% a year, and in a country of more than 1.3 billion people, per capita income has reached around $5,500. Foreign businesses in China are getting bigger. McDonald's this week said it plans to open 125 more outlets there in 2008, and Dunkin' Donuts wants 100 new locations in Shanghai alone over the next 10 years. What's the growth look like at street level? Our first visit to China was in 1993. Crossing main roads in Beijing was nearly impossible because of the streaming bicycles pedaled by factory workers wearing black Mao suits. The same blocks now make up some of the world's fanciest neighborhoods -- upscale condos and cafes filled with world-class fashionistas, and streets flowing with BMWs and Audis, Lamborghinis and more.

With such a staggering level of foreign activity in the economy, it's logical that a lot of the corruption over the past ten years can be traced to foreign companies. We thought 64% -- the amount noted in the aforementioned story -- sounded too high. But it could be close to the mark after all. For sure, the number of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement actions and investigations related to China has ballooned over the past few years. Among the companies involved are Lucent Technologies Inc., Faro Technologies, Inc., York International Corporation, Paradigm B.V., Schnitzer Steel Industries Inc., InVision Technologies, Inc., Diagnostics Products Corporation, Alltel Corporation, BearingPoint Inc. and UTStarcom Inc. Siemens may have FCPA issues in China, and there could be others. That's a long list in the rather limited FCPA universe. So what gives?

We've wondered before if some companies go into certain countries -- China, Nigeria and Indonesia come to mind -- expecting to find a corrupt environment. And once there -- no matter what they find -- they lower their compliance standards instead of raising them. Some pundits in Nigeria have talked about this syndrome and how it victimizes the local economy and the people in it. Perhaps the Chinese press is now sensitive to the same thing.

So in the spirit of the approaching Lunar New Year -- the beautiful character above means "rat," the sign next up on the Chinese calendar -- we acknowledge that ten years ago China put out the welcome mat to the world's entrepreneurs on a scale never seen before. Since then people by the billions have enjoyed the fruits, both in China and around the globe. At the same time, the Chinese government has struggled with public corruption -- as most developing economies do. It has fought against it using all available weapons. [Sometimes we cringe to read about executions for bribe-taking there.] Now China is telling the international community that a big part of its corruption problem is imported from overseas -- even from the United States. It's a good reminder to foreign companies -- especially those required to comply with the FCPA -- that instead of being part of the problem they should be part of the solution.

Wednesday
Oct312007

Faro Discloses Expected FCPA Resolution

Faro Technologies, Inc.'s third quarter disclosure describes a not-yet-effective deferred or non-prosecution agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In March 2006, Florida-based Faro -- which designs, develops, and markets software and portable, computerized measurement devices -- self-disclosed to prosecutors potential violations in China of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. On October 30, 2007, it said it expects to pay $2.65 million in estimated fines and penalties to resolve the case. It also said this:

"FCPA Update

"The Company anticipates that resolution of the FCPA matter will not result in formal criminal charges being filed against it by the DOJ. The Company expects, in addition to monetary sanctions, the final resolution of the FCPA matter with the SEC and the DOJ will include continuing obligations with the SEC and the DOJ with respect to monitoring, compliance with the FCPA and other laws, full cooperation with the government, and the adoption of a compliance code containing specific provisions intended to prevent violations of the FCPA.

"The Company expects that its monitoring obligations will continue for a period of two years starting with the final resolution of the FCPA matter with the SEC and the DOJ. The Company preliminarily estimates that the costs associated with the monitoring obligations to be in the range of $1 million to $2 million. However, because the scope of the monitoring obligation has not yet been determined and the outside monitoring firm has not yet been selected, the actual costs incurred may vary from the Company's preliminary estimate. The Company intends to provide updates with respect to the monitoring costs when additional information is available to the Company."

Faro Technologies, Inc. trades on NASDAQ under the symbol FARO.

View Faro's October 30, 2007 Press Release Here.