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FCPA Blog Daily News

Entries in Private Right of Action (34)

Monday
Dec172012

For U.S. gun maker, Africa sting case goes on

Here's the latest FCPA disclosure from Massachusetts-based Smith & Wesson from its Form 10-Q filed with the SEC on December 6. We've paragraphed the text for readability:

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Oct102012

Alcoa, Alba settle bribes suit

Alcoa said Tuesday it has reached a settlement with Aluminium Bahrain B.S.C. ('Alba') to end a civil lawsuit that accused Alcoa of bribing Alba officials and overcharging for the supply of raw materials.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
May082012

In New Class Action Complaint, Sam Walton Speaks

Predictably, plaintiffs lawyers filed a securities class action suit this week against Walmart and several current and former executives.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Mar052012

Alba Fights Alcoa's 'Home Cooked' Scheme

Aluminum Bahrain BSC ("Alba") said last week it should be allowed to sue for damages in a U.S. court because it was victimized by alleged bribery and fraud that was 'home-cooked . . . conceived, orchestrated, and directed in and from the United States.'

Click to read more ...

Monday
Nov142011

Alba's Suit Against Alcoa Reopened

The Wall Street Journal's Joe Palazzolo reported Friday that Aluminum Bahrain BSC's civil suit against Alcoa has been reopened, and that Alcoa will ask that it be dismissed.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Dec172010

The Alba Files

Alcoa and Sojitz are on our watch list for 2011. Here's why.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Dec132010

Private Suit Alleges China Bribes 

An American working for Allison Transmission in Shanghai said he was fired after complaining about cash payments, gifts of jewelry, and lavish parties for customers.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Nov112010

News From The Neighborhood

We check in with the D&O Diary, the FCPA Prof, lawgents.com, and the WSJ online.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Oct152010

Panalpina, Shell Near FCPA Settlements, Paper Says

The Wall Street Journal has reported that Panalpina and its customer Shell may be close to settling FCPA-related charges with the DOJ and SEC.

Click to read more ...

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.

Thursday
Jun102010

Plaintiffs Keep Trying

Parker Drilling's directors are facing a shareholder suit that was brought after the company's detailed disclosure earlier this month that it is being investigated by the Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission for compliance problems in Nigeria and Kazakhstan.

Courthouse News said the derivative suit was filed in Harris County Court in Texas.

The suit alleges breach of fiduciary duty, abuse of control, gross mismanagement and wasting corporate assets. It named Robert Parker Jr., Robert Parker, John Gibson, Roger Plank, Robert McKee, George Donnelly, Robert Goldman, Gary King, Rudolph Reinfrank and David Mannon.

As we've reported, Parker is one of the dozen or so oil and gas-related companies dragged into FCPA compliance problems by Panalpina, the Swiss logistics firm that allegedly bribed overseas customs and licensing officials on behalf of its clients. Among those investigated by the DOJ and SEC in addition to Parker are Schlumberger, Shell, Tidewater, Nabors Industries, Transocean, GlobalSantaFe Corp., ENSCO, Cameron, Noble Corp., and Pride International. Panalpina itself was hit with a shareholder derivative suit in federal court in Texas last year. 

There's no private right of action under the FCPA. So private litigants have to resort to other causes of action -- such as common law fraud, RICO, securities law violations, or breach of fiduciary duties. But private litigants haven't done well with FCPA-related claims. BAE directors this year won dismissal of a bribe-related case, as did Dow Chemical's.

In 2008, the Ninth Circuit in Glazer Capital Management v. Magistri put an obstacle in the path of plaintiffs. The court raised the "scienter" bar for FCPA-related claims against officers and directors under the federal securities laws. Since then, plaintiffs have filed FCPA-based derivative claims in state court, including one in Texas a year ago against some of the officers and directors of Halliburton and its one-time subsidiary, KBR

Tuesday
Jun012010

Feds Seek Sojitz Stay

The Justice Department has intervened for the second time in civil suits brought by Aluminium Bahrain BSC -- known as Alba -- against its raw material suppliers and brokers. Last week, the DOJ asked for a stay in Alba's suit against Japanese trading company Sojitz Corp. and its U.S. subsidiary. More than two years ago, the Justice Department obtained a stay in Alba's civil suit against Alcoa, Inc. The DOJ said discovery in the cases could interfere with the government's own investigation into potential criminal wrongdoing by Alcoa, Sojitz and other parties, including possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Alba sued Sojitz in December 2009, filing a $31 million claim in federal court in Houston. The suit alleged that from 1993 to 2006, Sojitz paid $14.8 million in bribes to two of Alba's employees in exchange for access to metals at below-market prices. Alba is majority-owned by the government of Bahrain.

In March 2008, Alba sued Alcoa Inc., its long-time raw materials supplier, for corruption and fraud. The suit in federal court in Pittsburg alleged that Alba paid $2 billion in overcharges during a 15-year period. The money, according to the suit, first went to overseas accounts controlled by Alcoa's agent, London-based Victor Dahdaleh, and some was then used to bribe Alba's executives in return for supply contracts.

Just weeks after Alba sued Alcoa, the Justice Department intervened in the case. It asked the court for a stay while the government investigates possible criminal violations of the FCPA and other laws by Alcoa and its executives and agent. The DOJ said the stay was needed to protect potential witnesses against civil discovery. The court granted the stay, which is still in effect. The DOJ hasn't commented on the status of its criminal investigation. Alcoa denied wrongdoing and said it is cooperating. Sources with knowledge of the government's investigation have reported to the FCPA Blog that the Justice Department had questions about Alcoa's initial explanations, which may have delayed potential settlement talks.

Alba did not oppose the DOJ's requests for stays in the Alcoa and Sojitz cases.

There's no private right of action under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. So Alba's claims against Alcoa and Sojitz were based on other federal laws, including RICO (18 U.S.C. § 1962(c)), conspiracy to violate RICO (18 U.S.C. § 1962(d)), fraud, and civil conspiracy to defraud. The complaint against Sojitz alleged the Japanese company used bribes to buy underpriced product and then "resold the aluminum it bought from Alba at below-market rates to U.S. companies including Enron Corp." Alcoa's conspiracy, Alba said in the civil complaint, "succeeded in exacting hundreds of millions of dollars in over payments, which continue to accumulate to this day. Among other things, Plaintiff seeks damages in excess of $1 billion, including punitive damages, for this massive, outrageous fraud."

Sojitz Corp. consists of 522 companies including 147 subsidiaries and affiliates in Japan and 375 overseas. Together they have 17,331 employees. The parent company's ADRs trade in the over-the-counter pink sheets under the symbol SZHFF.PK.

Download a copy of the government's May 27, 2010 memorandum in support of a stay in Aluminium Bahrain B.S.C v. Sojitz Corporation and Sojitz Corporation of America here.

Download a copy of the December 18, 2009 federal civil complaint in Aluminium Bahrain B.S.C v. Sojitz Corporation and Sojitz Corporation of America here.