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FCPA Blog Daily News

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Monday
Feb042019

Did real estate broker plead guilty under seal to outstanding FCPA charges?

A recent docket update by the Southern District of New York suggests that Andrew Simon, a Manhattan-based commercial real estate broker charged in 2017 with conspiring to violate the FCPA, has pleaded guilty under seal and is scheduled to be sentenced later this month.

Simon was originally charged in October 2017 on one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA for his role in a corruption scheme involving the Keangnam Hanoi Landmark 72 skyscraper in Vietnam. Based on the relevant court filings, Simon conspired with two other Manhattan-based commercial real estate brokers, Joo Hyun Bahn and Sang Woo, to channel a $500,000 bribe through a New York fashion consultant and blogger named Malcolm Harris to a government official from an unnamed Middle Eastern country.

The bribe, which Harris reportedly had no intention of passing along, was meant to induce the unnamed Middle Eastern country's sovereign wealth fund to purchase the Landmark 72 building. Simon, Bahn and Woo were allegedly acting at the behest of Bahn’s father, Ban Ki Sang, the nephew of former U.N. Chief Ban Ki-Moon and a former executive with Keangnam Enterprises Co., which built and owned Landmark 72 and was heavily indebted on the project.

Simon entered a plea of “not guilty” to a superseding indictment filed on March 30, 2018, after which the docket contains limited information until two entries on January 22, 2019, that indicate that Simon is scheduled to be sentenced on February 25, 2019, suggesting his plea agreement is under seal. Prosecutors frequently seek court approval to file plea agreements under seal where the settlements relate to other ongoing cases that could be negatively affected by the premature release of sensitive or confidential information.

Simon would be the latest defendant to plead guilty in connection with the Landmark 72 scandal, following: Harris, who pleaded guilty to a non-FCPA offense on June 21, 2017, and was later sentenced to 42 months in prison; and Bahn, who pleaded guilty on January 5, 2018, agreed to a $225,000 disgorgement with the SEC on September 6, 2018, and was ultimately sentenced to 6 months in prison.

The status of Woo’s charges are unclear. Woo’s case was last continued until May 12, 2017, and he was reportedly attempting to negotiate a plea.

Which leaves only Ban, who is a South Korean national whom the United States has been trying to extradite since January 2017.

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Marc Alain Bohn, pictured above, is Counsel in the International Department of Miller & Chevalier and focuses on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and other areas of international corporate compliance, including export controls and economic sanctions. He can be contacted here.