Search

Editors

Richard L. Cassin Publisher and Editor

Andy Spalding Senior Editor

Jessica Tillipman Senior Editor

Harry Cassin Managing 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

Monday
Mar222010

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.  

Friday
Mar192010

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.

Friday
Mar192010

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.

Thursday
Mar182010

Innospec's $40 Million Global Settlement

Specialty chemical maker Innospec Inc. resolved more than a dozen criminal charges in the U.S. and U.K. today, including Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and U.N. oil for food program offenses, and violations of the U.S. embargo against Cuba.

The Delaware company pleaded guilty to a 12-count criminal information charging wire fraud in connection with kickbacks to the former Iraqi government under the U.N. oil for food program, as well as FCPA violations for bribes to officials in the Iraqi Ministry of Oil. It will pay a $14.1 million criminal fine and retain an independent compliance monitor for three years.

Innospec manufactures the anti-knock compound tetraethyl lead (TEL) used in leaded gasoline. Demand for TEL dropped after enactment of the Clean Air Act. Its managment knew about and encouraged the bribery to boost sales.

It will disgorge $11.2 million in profits to the SEC to settle a civil complaint charging violations of the FCPA's anti-bribery, internal controls, and books and records provisions.

It also agreed to pay $2.2 million to the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) for violating the U.S. embargo against Cuba.

In London, a U.K. subsidiary pleaded guilty today to paying about $2.9 million in bribes to Indonesian officials to secure sales. The Serious Fraud Office, which charged the U.K. unit in late February, said Innospec Ltd will pay a criminal fine of $12.7 million. 

The DOJ said the British action started after "a referral from the Department of Justice in October 2007." The SFO said, "This case is part of the first 'global settlement' reached with a co-operating Company and has been resolved in cooperation with U.S. government authorities - DOJ, SEC and OFAC."

The SEC explained the bribery and management's role:

From 2000 to 2007, Innospec routinely paid bribes to sell Tetra Ethyl Lead (“TEL”), a fuel additive that boosts the octane value of gasoline, to state owned refineries and oil companies in Iraq and Indonesia. TEL was a significant source of revenue for Innospec; however, TEL sales were declining due to the passage of clean air legislation in the U.S. and abroad. Innospec also paid kickbacks to Iraq to obtain contracts under the United Nations Oil for Food Program (the “Program”). Innospec’s former management did nothing to stop the bribery, and in fact authorized and encouraged it. In addition, Innospec’s internal controls failed to detect the illicit conduct, which continued for nearly a decade. In all, Innospec made illicit payments of approximately $6,347,588 and promised an additional $2,870,377 in illicit payments to Iraqi ministries, Iraqi government officials, and Indonesian government officials in exchange for contracts worth approximately $176,717,341 in revenues and profits of $60,071,613.

From 2000 to 2003, Innospec's Swiss subsidiary, Alcor, was awarded contracts worth more than €40 million to sell TEL to refineries run by the Iraqi Ministry of Oil under the oil for food program. Alcor paid or promised to pay at least $4 million in kickbacks to the former Iraqi government. It inflated the price of the contracts by about 10 percent to fund the kickbacks before asking for U.N. approval. It then falsely characterized the payments on its books as "commissions" paid to Ousama Naaman, its agent in Iraq.

Naaman was indicted in August 2008 and arrested in Germany in July 2009. He was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and to violate the FCPA and two counts of violating the FCPA. The U.S. is trying to extradite him.

Innospec also admitted that a subsidiary sold nearly $20 million in oil soluble fuel additives from 2001 to 2004 to state-owned Cuban power plants without a license from OFAC, in violation of the Trading With the Enemy Act.

Innospec Inc. trades on NADAQ under the symbol IOSP.

View the SEC's litigation release No. 21454 / March 18, 2010 in Securities & Exchange Commission v. Innospec, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:10-cv-00448 (RMC) (D.D.C.) here.

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

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

Download a copy of the March 17, 2010 criminal information in U.S. v. Innospec, Inc. here.

Download a copy of the government's sentencing memorandum here.

Download a copy of the Innospec's plea agreement here.

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

Please check back for the DOJ's charging documents and plea agreement.

Thursday
Mar182010

More On Graft Is Good, Sometimes

Last week we heard from Washington, D.C. lawyer and former aid worker Stephanie Connor. She disagreed with some comments Andy Spalding, left, has made in this space. Andy's a lawyer on a year-long Fulbright Research Grant in Mumbai, India.

He's questioned whether bribery is always bad and enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act always good. (His concepts were discussed without attribution to him in a recent WSJ Law Blog post "Is the FCPA Standing in the Way of Haiti’s Recovery?" here.)

Here's his response:

Hi Stephanie,

First, nice to meet you and thanks for your comments. They have forced me to examine my assumptions in some unexpectedly difficult ways.

I understand the crux of your comment to be that we should not treat the FCPA as if it were primarily designed as a poverty reduction tool. I agree.

Rather, the statute is primarily designed to be a bribery reduction tool, and we should not evaluate its success in the first instance by the extent to which it reduces poverty. But to say that it is not designed to be a poverty reduction tool is very different from saying that we should enforce it without regard to its impact on poverty.

As strongly as I agree with the former statement, I disagree with the latter. Indeed, many believed in 1977 and still believe today that proper enforcement of the FCPA will have the collateral effect of mitigating poverty -- through reducing corruption, we will eventually improve economic productivity. I am among those who subscribe to this theory, when thinking about the very long term.

But what if FCPA enforcement has the more immediate effect, quite unwittingly, of exacerbating already severe social problems, including but not limited to poverty? Should we take notice? Should we modify our approach to enforcement? Can the FCPA be enforced in such a way that it can deter bribery without deterring investment in developing countries? I certainly believe that it can, and that it should. Is there a reason why it should not?

I would truly love to hear your response.

All the best,
Andy Spalding

Views from other readers are also welcome.

Editor's Note: For the record, Andy has never said graft is good. Our over-zealous headline writers came up with that 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."

Tuesday
Mar162010

Four Guilty Pleas In Vietnam Bribe Case

The Justice Department said Philadelphia-based export company Nexus Technologies Inc. and three employees pleaded guilty today to bribing Vietnamese officials.

Nexus pleaded guilty to conspiracy, and to violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and the Travel Act in connection with commercial bribes and money laundering. Nam Nguyen, 54, of Houston and Vietnam, the president and owner of Nexus, and sibling An Nguyen, 34, of Philadelphia, each pleaded guilty to conspiracy, a substantive FCPA violation, a violation of the Travel Act, and money laundering. Kim Nguyen, 41, another sibling, pleaded guilty to conspiracy, a substantive FCPA violation, and money laundering.

They were arrested in September 2008, along with Joseph T. Lukas, 60, a partner in Nexus until 2005. He pleaded guilty in June 2009 to conspiracy and to violating the FCPA. The DOJ said he admitted in his plea that from 1999 to 2005, he and others at Nexus bribed Vietnamese officials in exchange for contracts with the officials' agencies. The bribes were falsely described in the company's books as "commissions."

Lukas now faces up to 10 years in prison and a possible $350,000 fine. His sentencing is scheduled for April 6, 2010.

Nexus and the Nguyens admitted that from 1999 to 2008 they paid bribes of more than $250,000 to Vietnamese government officials in exchange for contracts. Nexus sold third-party underwater mapping and bomb containment equipment, helicopter parts, chemical detectors, satellite communication parts and air tracking systems.

The DOJ said Nexus acknowledged as part of its guilty plea that "it operated primarily through criminal means and agreed to cease operations."

Sentencing is scheduled for July 13, 2010. Nexus still faces a maximum fine of $27 million. Nam and An Nguyen each face a maximum sentence of 35 years in prison. Kim Nguyen faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

The government hasn't released the plea agreements for Nexus and the Nguyens; the plea agreement in U.S. v. Lukas remains under court seal.

A copy of the Justice Department's March 16, 2010 release can be viewed here.

Download a copy of the October 29, 2009 superseding indictment in U.S. v. Nexus Technologies, Inc. et al here.

Tuesday
Mar162010

Two Sentencing Delays, Two Reasons

Photo by walknbostonSentencing for Gerald and Patricia Green was delayed again. Their next hearing is scheduled for April 1, 2010 at 8:00 am.

And Albert "Jack" Stanley's sentencing was rescheduled until May 26, 2010.

The reasons for the delays?

In the Greens' case, Judge George H. Wu in Los Angeles may be reluctant to adopt the government's view that Gerald Green, 76, should spend 20 or more years in prison. The judge has asked for memoranda analyzing sentences in prior cases. The Greens were convicted by a jury of FCPA and related offenses in September 2009.

After Jack Stanley's guilty plea in September 2008, the former KBR CEO was sentenced to seven years in prison. But the sentence is subject to review based on his cooperation with the government. His plea agreement is here.

Stanley's ex-company, KBR, resolved FCPA offenses in February 2009. And as reported, two other companies involved in the case are now discussing settlement with the DOJ -- Technip and ENI. Stanley's testimony about their roles could be important, so his sentencing isn't likely to happen until their enforcement actions are resolved. 

Stanley admitted he helped the four-party TSKJ consortium bribe Nigerian officials. In addition to KBR, Technip, and ENI, the fourth member was Japan's JGC Corporation (once known as Japan Gasoline Co., Ltd.). It hasn't disclosed any FCPA-related investigation or potential enforcement action resulting from its role in the consortium.

Monday
Mar152010

ENI Reserves €250 Million For FCPA Settlement

A category in our post Where The Money Is listed big-dollar FCPA enforcement actions in the pipeline. One was French company Technip, which had just disclosed a €245 million ($330 million) provision for its role in the TSKJ Nigeria joint venture. That's the same case KBR and Halliburton settled last year for $579 million.

We weren't the only ones reading Technip's news. So was Italian energy giant ENI SpA. It was also part of the TSKJ joint venture through a subsidiary it later sold.

ENI's 2009 Annual Report (released March 11, 2010) said:

In a press release of February 12, 2010, the French company Technip announced, as a result of the circumstances that its discussions with U.S. authorities have intensified over the last weeks, the recognition of a provision for an amount of €245 million reflecting the estimated cost of resolution with such Authorities. The decision was made according to the status of ongoing discussions with DOJ and SEC that allowed Technip to estimate a global resolution of all potential claims against the company arising from the investigation.

As to ENIi, the contacts with the U.S. authorities have been intensified recently. Based on the ongoing status of the discussions, the Company has been able to estimate the cost of a global resolution of all potential claims arising from the investigation with the U.S. authorities, similarly to Technip. As a result of this, a provision of €250,000,000 has been accrued, also considering the contractual obligations assumed by ENI to indemnify Saipem as part of the divestment of Snamprogetti.

Discussions with the U.S. authorities are underway.

If Technip and ENI resolve their FCPA cases for around $300 million each, that means TSKJ's $180 million bribery in Nigeria will have resulted in U.S. financial penalties of more than $1.1 billion. Some in Nigeria will no doubt ask why the penalty money should end up in the U.S. Treasury and not their country.

ENI's ADRs trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol E.

Download a copy of ENI's 2009 Annual Report released March 11, 2010 here.

Our thanks to a friend for sending the link to ENI's disclosure.

Saturday
Mar132010

Guilty Plea By Former Haitian Telco Official

A former Haitian phone company official at the center of a major Foreign Corrupt Practices Act prosecution pleaded guilty Friday to a money-laundering conspiracy. 

The Justice Department said Robert Antoine, 62, of Miami and Haiti, the director of international affairs for state-owned Telecommunications D’Haiti from May 2001 to April 2003, accepted bribes from three U.S. telecommunications companies. To disguise the bribes, Antoine laundered them through intermediary companies, including J.D. Locator Services. 

Antoine was indicted on money-laundering charges in December 2009. Bribe takers cannot be prosecuted under the FCPA.

Juan Diaz, the president of J.D. Locator, pleaded guilty in May 2009 to conspiracy to violate the FCPA and money laundering. He admitted he paid and concealed $1,028,851 in bribes while acting as an intermediary for three private telecommunications companies.

Antoine said in his plea that a portion of the J.D. Locator funds were also laundered by Jean Fourcand of Fourcand Enterprises, who pleaded guilty last month to money laundering.

Antonio Perez, 51, of Miami, the former controller of one of the U.S. telcos, pleaded guilty in April 2009 to a one-count information charging him with conspiring to bribe officials at Telecommunications D'Haiti. Perez arranged bribes of $674,193 to the Haitian officials while he worked at the company from March 1998 to January 2002.

Diaz and Perez are waiting to be sentenced.

Antoine said during his guilty plea that $800,000 was given to him by a U.S. telecommunications company of which Joel Esquenazi was the president and director, Carlos Rodriguez was the executive vice president, and Antonio Perez was the controller.

Esquenazi and Rodriguez, as well as Jean Rene Duperval, who was director of international relations of Telecommunications D’Haiti from June 2003 to April 2004, and Duperval’s sister, Marguerite Grandison, were indicted along with Antoine in December 2009. (As the DOJ says, an indictment is merely an accusation, and defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.)

Following his guilty plea, Antoine faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of the greater of $250,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction. He already agreed to a forfeiture order of $1,580,771. He's scheduled to be sentenced on May 27, 2010.

Download a copy of the indictment in US v. Esquenazi et al here.

Friday
Mar122010

Veraz Announces Expected Settlement

VOiP provider Veraz Networks said in an earnings release Thursday that it has reached agreement with the Securities and Exchange Commission to settle Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations. It said it would pay a civil penalty of $300,000 and agree to entry of an injunction "prohibiting violations of the non-fraud provisions" of the FCPA. It also said the settlement still needs final approval by the SEC and the court. A copy of Veraz's March 11, 2010 release is here.

San Jose, California-based Veraz Networks trades on NASDAQ under the symbol VRAZ.

The SEC began investigating the company in early 2008. Veraz then launched an internal investigation and discovered potential FCPA violations in China and Indonesia, which it self-reported to the SEC. The SEC also requested documents related to Vietnam.

Because of the ongoing investigations, the company had to delay filing its quarterly reports for March and May 2008. That resulted in NASDAQ warning Veraz "that its common stock may be subject to delisting." NASDAQ ultimately granted an extension for the filings, which were made in July 2008, allowing Veraz's common stock to continue to be listed.

The company said in November 2009 that it had spent $2.5 million to investigate and handle the FCPA compliance issues.

*   *   *

A copy of Veraz's November 16, 2009 Form 10-Q is here. The company's disclosure in that filing regarding the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act said:

On April 3, 2008, the Company received a letter from the SEC informing it that the SEC was conducting a confidential inquiry, or SEC Inquiry, and requesting that the Company voluntarily produce documents in connection with the SEC Inquiry. On April 5, 2008, the Company’s Board of Directors appointed a special committee, or Special Committee, consisting entirely of independent directors to cooperate with the SEC in connection with the SEC Inquiry and to oversee an independent investigation into the matters raised by the SEC Inquiry. . . .

On July 17, 2008, Independent Counsel reported their findings to representatives of the SEC and, on July 21, 2008, provided to the SEC copies of certain documents collected by Independent Counsel during the course of its independent investigation. The Company provided all the requested documents to SEC.

As a result of the SEC Inquiry, the Company was not able to file timely its quarterly report on Form 10-Q for the first quarter ended March 31, 2008 and, on May 21, 2008, the Company received a notification letter from NASDAQ stating that its common stock may be subject to delisting in accordance the NASDAQ rules.

The Company’s management attended a hearing on July 24, 2008 to request that NASDAQ grant the Company’s request for an extension of time in which to comply with the NASDAQ listing standards. On July 29, 2008, the Company filed its quarterly report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended March 31, 2008 and now believes it is in compliance with all SEC filing requirements. Additionally, on August 6, 2008, the Company received notification from NASDAQ informing the Company that the NASDAQ hearing panel had determined to continue listing the Company’s common stock on the NASDAQ.

During the course of the SEC inquiry, the Company became aware of allegations of misconduct relating to the Company’s business practices in the Asia Pacific region that, if true, may constitute violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or FCPA. These potential FCPA violations include alleged misconduct related to a Chinese customer and an Indonesian customer. In addition, the Special Committee was informed and made the Company aware of allegations of possible fraud perpetrated against the Company and violations of the Company’s Code of Conduct and Ethics, or Policy. The allegations of possible fraud and violations of the Policy involve payments from a reseller to certain non-management employees (whose employment has since been terminated) and other potentially inappropriate commercial relationships between non-management employees and a reseller.

On January 27, 2009, the Company received a subpoena from the SEC requesting documents related to the Company’s business practices in Vietnam. In connection with such SEC investigation, the Company produced documents and provided testimony relevant to the SEC’s investigation and is continuing to cooperate with the SEC in its investigation. In November 2009, the Staff of the SEC contacted the Company concerning some of the transactions described above and the Company is cooperating with the Staff.

At the current time, the Company cannot determine the probability of or quantify the amount of any fines or penalties associated with the SEC matters discussed above.

There were no expenses incurred related to SEC investigation in the three and nine months ended September 30, 2009. During the three and nine months ended September 30, 2008, the Company had incurred SEC investigation expenses of $0.2 million and $2.3 million, respectively. To date, the Company has incurred expenses related to the SEC investigation of approximately $2.5 million.

Wednesday
Mar102010

What, Then, Is A Bribe?

A reader called our attention to an extraordinary statement made in February by Richard Alderman, left, director of the U.K.'s Serious Fraud Office. His subject was how Britain's new bribery bill will work.

He was asked about transferring a majority interest in a profitable subsidiary of a (presumably) U.K. company to the family of the president of a developing country. The transfer was a condition of continuing to do business there.

Here's what he said:

While we cannot compromise overall ethical standards, there needs to be considerable sensitivity as to how those standards play out . . .

And so, what does this mean? Let me give you an example.

I was approached by the Board of a corporate that is involved in one of these [developing] countries. They had a 100% subsidiary. This was becoming very profitable and so they received an approach from the Government. They were told that if they wanted to continue to do business in the country then they would need to transfer a 51% interest in the subsidiary to the family of the President. That gave rise to all sorts of worries for them for obvious reasons. One of these was whether or not the SFO would take the view that payment in this way was a bribe. They were concerned we might investigate and prosecute.

I assured them that I would have no intention of doing that whatsoever. I said I recognised the very great difficulty of the moral and ethical position that they were in. This was something they would have to resolve. What I could do though was to give them comfort that whatever they did, we would be sensitive to the circumstances here and would not seek to take any action, even if technically the transfer of the interest in the subsidiary constituted a bribe.

They found that very helpful.

Under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the transfer to the president's family would likely be illegal.

Director Alderman's full remarks can be found here.

Tuesday
Mar092010

Not-So-Great Expectations, Please

We like hearing from readers. Here's a note from Washington, D.C. lawyer Stephanie Connor, left:

Dear FCPA Blog,

I'm grateful for the insights this blog, and its many contributors, have provided throughout the years. This includes the admirable work of Andy Spalding, Art Carden and Lisa Verdon – academics who cast doubt upon the ultimate utility of the FCPA as a means of combating corruption and reducing poverty in the developing world. As a lawyer and a former aid worker, I don’t always agree.

While I believe anti-corruption enforcement is necessary, I am troubled by the tenor of the recent dialogue surrounding that enforcement. This has nothing to do with the quality of the analyses that Spalding, Carden and Verdon are providing, and everything to do with the fact that expectations for what the FCPA can and should accomplish have grown completely out of hand.

The works of Spalding, Carden, and Verdon are important. Poverty reduction strategies need to be evaluated, measured, and critically assessed. But the FCPA is not a poverty reduction strategy. We cannot mistake supply-side anti-corruption enforcement for the wider effort to reduce corruption in the developing world -– a project that will require significant advancements in health, education, and the rule of law, for starters. The FCPA simply aims to ensure that U.S. actors do not provide monetary lifelines to the autocrats and oligarchs who will be threatened by the advancement of their people. It will not solve the underlying problems of poverty.

Holding the FCPA up as the magic bullet for poverty reduction is unfair to those who have foregone lucrative opportunities in order to comply with the law. By framing the anti-corruption effort as a means of vanquishing poverty, we risk handing an early victory to opponents of the Act. When the FCPA is inevitably unsuccessful, the enthusiasm for anti-corruption may dissipate, the resources for FCPA enforcement may quietly disappear, and those companies that have sacrificed so much to act within the confines and spirit of the law would be left at an even greater disadvantage. 

I admire the business people and aid workers who refuse to pay bribes. They often make that choice because they realize that paying one official will lead to a torrent of other requests. The FCPA supports them. The law allows them to tell a soldier with a greedy glint in his eye that they would pay him but cannot do so without risking their company and their job. This is much easier than telling him that they could pay him but just don’t feel like it. 

A successful anti-corruption effort will take more than a few years, or even a few dozen years, of enforcement. Maintaining that effort over a prolonged period requires that we also manage our expectations. It should be enough that the FCPA reduces some high-level corruption. We need not, and should not, ask it to do more.

Best Regards,

Stephanie Connor

The views expressed in this post belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of her employer.