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Thursday
Dec122013

Smith and Wesson still deals with Africa sting legacy

Here's what Massachusettss-based gun-maker Smith and Wesson said in its annual report (Form 10-Q) filed with the SEC on December 10:

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On January 19, 2010, the DOJ unsealed indictments of 22 individuals from the law enforcement and military equipment industries, one of whom was our former Vice President-Sales, International & U.S. Law Enforcement. We were not charged in the indictment. We also were served with a Grand Jury subpoena for the production of documents. We have always taken, and continue to take seriously, our obligation as an industry leader to foster a responsible and ethical culture, which includes adherence to laws and industry regulations in the United States and abroad. Although we are cooperating fully with the DOJ in this matter and have undertaken a comprehensive review of company policies and procedures, the DOJ may determine that we have violated FCPA laws.

On February 21, 2012, the DOJ filed a motion to dismiss with prejudice the indictments of the remaining defendants who were pending trial, including our former Vice President-Sales, International & U.S. Law Enforcement. On February 24, 2012, the district court granted the motion to dismiss. We cannot predict, however, when the investigation will be completed or its outcome. There could be additional indictments of our company, our officers, or our employees.

If the DOJ determines that we violated FCPA laws, we may face sanctions, including significant civil and criminal penalties. In addition, we could be prevented from bidding on domestic military and government contracts and could risk debarment by the U.S. Department of State. We also face increased legal expenses and could see an increase in the cost of doing international business. We could also see private civil litigation arising as a result of the outcome of the investigation. In addition, responding to the investigation may divert the time and attention of our management from normal business operations. Regardless of the outcome of the investigation, the publicity surrounding the investigation and the potential risks associated with the investigation could negatively impact the perception of our company by investors, customers, and others.

In fiscal 2011, we received a subpoena from the staff of the SEC giving notice that the SEC is conducting a non-public, fact-finding inquiry to determine whether there have been any violations of the federal securities laws. It appears this civil inquiry was triggered in part by the DOJ investigation into potential FCPA violations.

Although we are cooperating fully with the SEC in this matter, the SEC may determine that we have violated federal securities laws. We cannot predict when this inquiry will be completed or its outcome. If the SEC determines that we have violated federal securities laws, we may face injunctive relief, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, and sanctions, including fines and penalties, or may be forced to take corrective actions that could increase our costs or otherwise adversely affect our business, results of operations, and liquidity. We also face increased legal expenses and could see an increase in the cost of doing business. We could also see private civil litigation arising as a result of the outcome of this inquiry. In addition, responding to the inquiry may divert the time and attention of our management from normal business operations. Regardless of the outcome of the inquiry, the publicity surrounding the inquiry and the potential risks associated with the inquiry could negatively impact the perception of our company by investors, customers, and others.

We are involved in two purported stockholder derivative lawsuits. These actions were brought by putative plaintiffs on behalf of our company against certain of our officers, directors, and employees. The lawsuits are based principally on a theory of breach of fiduciary duties. The putative plaintiffs seek damages on behalf of our company from the individual defendants.

Damages sought in each case include equitable and/or injunctive relief, actions to improve corporate governance, and recovery of attorneys’ fees, and in one case also include declaratory relief and the rescission of certain option awards. A stipulation of settlement in one of our cases has been submitted and has been preliminarily approved by the court. We believe that the allegations asserted in the above lawsuits are unfounded.

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SEC filing courtesy of ethiXbase GRC Database.