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Entries in Avery Dennison (7)

Monday
Jun172013

Corruption Risks -- China Travel Edition (Part I)

In any country, paying for travel for government officials, customers at state-owned enterprises, or customers at purely private enterprises can present corruption risks. . . .

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Apr122012

Diageo's 'Rice Cake' Payments

There's always a danger that an unhealthy corporate practice, even an illegal one, will gain internal acceptance and legitimacy simply because it happens all the time.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Jun292010

Asian Values, FCPA Risks

By Michael S. Diamant

Few FCPA compliance challenges are as vexing as the provision of everyday business courtesies, like gifts, meals, drinks, travel, and entertainment. Because the FCPA has no de minimis threshold, even minor expenditures could implicate the statute’s anti-bribery and accounting provisions. Although they are a necessary and common facet of international business, such benefits have led to enforcement actions against companies like Lucent Technologies, Avery Dennison, and UTStarcom.

Multinational companies that do business in China confront this challenge daily. The Chinese business environment particularly amplifies this risk for two reasons. First, the Chinese government owns a huge percentage of its domestic economy.  It is thought to own more than 70% of the country’s productive wealth, and it is the majority shareholder of 31% of publicly listed Chinese companies.

This has profound implications for FCPA compliance due to how the law is currently enforced: In their prosecution of companies like Schnitzer Steel, the U.S. regulators have taken an expansive view of the meaning of “foreign official.” The statute defines “foreign official” as an “any officer or employee of a foreign government or any department, agency, or instrumentality thereof.” According to the U.S. authorities, this includes for-profit businesses, like steel mills, that are only partially owned or controlled by a foreign government.

Therefore, China’s broad ownership of its publicly listed companies qualifies a huge percent of Chinese businesspeople as “foreign officials” according to U.S. regulators.  When you discuss a prospective deal over dinner or a drink with a Chinese business executive, you might be giving a thing of value to a foreign official!

Second, Chinese business culture typically values the provision of things of value to build relationships. This development of business connections, termed guanxi, is especially important for multinational companies trying to develop business in China and make inroads into that country’s booming economy. Further, the failure to reciprocate courtesies that have been provided by your business counterparties in the past may be seen as rude and could hamper business. The risk of offending on one hand may be balanced against the risk of violating the FCPA on the other.

Over the years, we have advised numerous multinational companies on how to handle this conundrum.  This month we published an article in the Virginia Law & Business Review that gathers some of our accumulated wisdom on the issue, both by performing a legal analysis of the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions to determine why certain business courtesies are permissible while others are not and by providing some internal compliance suggestions to manage this risk with regard to a company’s Chinese operations. We hope readers of the FCPA Blog find it helpful. It can be downloaded here.

Michael Diamant is a member of the white collar defense and investigations practice group in the Washington, D.C. office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. His practice focuses on white collar criminal defense, internal investigations, and corporate compliance. He has conducted internal investigations in eleven countries on four continents regarding possible FCPA violations and assisted clients in complying with government subpoenas and negotiating settlements with enforcement agencies.

Thursday
Oct012009

Enforcement Report For Q3 '09

During the third quarter, we counted Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement actions involving nine individuals and five corporations. Among the developments: Three FCPA-related trials were completed, all ending badly for the defendants (Bourke, Jefferson and Green). For the first time, the SEC asserted control-person liability in an FCPA case (Faggioli and Huff). And the Justice Department used a California anti-corruption law as the basis for a federal Travel Act charge in an FCPA prosecution (CCI).

Here's what happened:

AGCO Corporation (September 30, 2009) Criminal and civil enforcement actions resolved. To settle charges that it paid kickbacks to the pre-war Iraqi regime under the U.N. oil for food program, agricultural equipment-maker AGCO Corporation agreed with the Justice Department to pay a criminal fine of $1.6 million and enter into a three-year deferred prosecution agreement. Its U.K. subsidiary was charged in a one- count criminal information with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and to violate the books and records provisions of the FCPA.

In its settlement of civil charges with the Securities and Exchange Commission, AGCO Corporation agreed to disgorge $13,907,393 in profits and $2,000,000 in pre-judgment interest, and pay a civil penalty of $2,400,000. The SEC charged the company with failing to maintain an adequate system of internal controls to detect and prevent the corrupt payments and failing to properly record the payments.

Gerald and Patricia Green (September 14, 2009) Convicted of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and violating the FCPA.
The Hollywood film executives were found guilty by a federal jury in LA of violating the FCPA by bribing a Thai official in exchange for contracts to manage and operate Thailand's yearly film festival.

Gerald Green, 77, and Patricia Green, 52, were convicted of conspiring to violate the FCPA and U.S. money laundering laws, nine counts of violating the FCPA, and seven counts of money laundering. Patricia Green was found guilty of two counts of falsely subscribing to a U.S. income tax return.

The conspiracy and FCPA charges each carry a statutory maximum penalty of five years in prison. Each of the money laundering counts carries a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. The tax charges against Patricia Green each carry a statutory maximum penalty of three years in prison. The Greens are scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge George H. Wu on December 17, 2009.

Leo Winston Smith (September 3, 2009) Guilty plea to a two-count indictment. The former director of sales and marketing for Pacific Consolidated Industries (PCI), admitted that he bribed an official from the U.K. Ministry of Defense (MOD) in return for equipment orders. Smith, 73, pleaded guilty in the U.S. federal district court for central California to conspiracy to violate the FCPA (18 U.S.C. §371) and corruptly obstructing and impeding the due administration of the internal revenue laws (26 U.S.C. §7212(a)).

Sentencing is scheduled for December 18, 2009. He faces a maximum five years in prison on the FCPA conspiracy charge and three years on the tax charge, and a fine of about $255,000.

Oscar H. Meza (August 28, 2009) Resolved civil enforcement action. Meza, the former sales director in Asia for Faro Technologies, Inc., was charged by the SEC 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 complaint alleged that he "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."

Meza paid a $30,000 civil penalty and $26,707 in disgorgement and prejudgment interest.

William Jefferson (August 5, 2009) Convicted of conspiracy to violate the FCPA. The former nine-term congressman from Louisiana was found guilty by a federal jury in Alexandria, Virginia of 11 of 16 corruption charges. In addition to the conspiracy charge, he was also found guilty of soliciting and taking bribes, depriving citizens of honest services, money laundering and racketeering, and conspiracy to solicit bribes. He was acquitted of a substantive charge of violating the FCPA.

Jefferson's case started in 2005 when the FBI raided his congressional office. He then became the first elected U.S. official to be charged under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The indictment alleged among other things that he conspired to bribe the then Nigerian vice president, Atiku Abubakar, to steer telecommunications contracts to companies controlled by Jefferson's family.

Nature's Sunshine Products Inc. (NSP), Douglas Faggioli, and Craig D. Huff (July 31, 2009) Civil enforcement actions resolved. The SEC filed a settled enforcement action against NSP, its CEO Faggioli, 54, and its former CFO Huff, 53. The charges related to cash payments made in 2000 and 2001 by the Brazilian subsidiary of NSP, a manufacturer of nutritional and personal care products, to import unregistered products into Brazil and the subsequent falsification of its books and records to conceal the payments. NSP was required to pay a civil penalty of $600,000; Faggioli and Huff each paid $25,000.

The SEC's civil complaint alleged thatNSP's Brazilian subsidiary made a series of cash payments to customs officials to import product into that country and then purchased false documentation to conceal the nature of the payments. The conduct violated the FCPA, and the antifraud, issuer reporting, books and records and internal controls provisions of the federal securities laws. The complaint also alleged that Faggioli and Huff, in their capacities as control persons, violated the books and records and internal controls provisions of the securities laws in connection with the Brazilian cash payments. NSP also failed to disclose the payments to Brazilian customs agents in its filings with the SEC.

Control Components Inc. (July 31, 2009) Criminal enforcement action resolved. Valve-maker CCI of Rancho Santa Margarita, California pleaded guilty to violating the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA (15 U.S.C. §78dd-2) and the Travel Act (18 U.S. C. §1952). It bribed foreign officials in a decade-long scheme to secure contracts in about 36 countries. CCI's plea agreement imposes a criminal fine of $18.2 million, a compliance monitor for three years, and a three-year term of organizational probation.

CCI designs and manufactures service control valves for use in the nuclear, oil and gas, and power generation industries. Its website is here. It's owned by British-based IMI plc, which trades on the London Stock Exchange under the symbol IMI.L.

The corrupt payments were made to foreign officials at state-owned entities including Jiangsu Nuclear Power Corp. (China), Guohua Electric Power (China), China Petroleum Materials and Equipment Corp., PetroChina, Dongfang Electric Corporation (China), China National Offshore Oil Corporation, Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power, Petronas (Malaysia) and National Petroleum Construction Company (United Arab Emirates).

Ousama Naaman
(July 31, 2009) Arrested in Frankfurt, Germany. The Canadian citizen had been indicted in August 2008 for his alleged role in an eight-year conspiracy to defraud the United Nations Oil for Food Program (OFFP) and to bribe Iraqi government officials in connection with the sale of a chemical additive used in refining leaded fuel. Naaman, 60, of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and to violate the FCPA and two counts of violating the FCPA. The Justice Department is trying to extradite him from Germany to the United States to stand trial. He faces a maximum prison sentence of 15 years.

Helmerich & Payne Inc. (July 30, 2009) Criminal and civil enforcement actions resolved. The Oklahoma-based oil and gas driller paid a $1 million criminal penalty to the Justice Department and entered into a two-year deferred prosecution agreement to settle FCPA violations related to improper payments to government officials in Argentina and Venezuela. It was also required to disgorge to the Securities and Exchange Commission $320,604 plus prejudgment interest of $55,077.22 for books and records and internal controls violations.

Avery Dennison Corporation (July 28, 2009) Civil enforcement action resolved. Label-maker Avery Dennison resolved civil and administrative charges brought by the SEC in the United States District Court for the Central District of California. Avery was charged with violating the FCPA's books and records and internal controls provisions. In the administrative action, the SEC ordered the company to disgorge $273,213 and $45,257 in prejudgment interest. In the federal civil action, Avery agreed to a final judgment requiring it to pay a civil penalty of $200,000.

From 2002 through 2005, the Reflectives Division of Avery (China) Co. Ltd. paid or authorized the payment of kickbacks, sightseeing trips, and gifts to Chinese government officials amounting to about $30,000. In one transaction, Avery China secured a sale to a state-owned end user by agreeing to pay a Chinese official a kickback of nearly $25,000 through a distributor. Avery China earned $273,213 in profit from the transaction, which it inaccurately booked as a sale to the distributor rather than to the end user.

Frederic Bourke (July 10, 2009) Convicted of conspiring to violate the FCPA, violating the Travel Act, and lying to FBI agents.

Bourke, 63, is co-founder of well-known handbag brand Dooney & Bourke. A federal jury in Manhattan found that he invested in Czech-born promoter Viktor Kozeny's unsuccessful attempt in 1998 to gain control of Azerbaijan's state oil company, Socar, despite knowing Kozeny planned to bribe Azeri leaders. Kozeny has also been charged in the case but is a fugitive living in the Bahamas. Bourke was acquitted of money-laundering charges.

Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 13, 2009. Bourke faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss resulting from the alleged violations on each of the two counts on which he was convicted.
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Click on the party names for the original posts, with links to charging documents, plea agreements, and news and litigation releases.

View our enforcement report for Q2 '09 here.

View our enforcement report for Q1 '09 here.

View our 2008 enforcement index here.
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Wednesday
Aug122009

Juiced Up Enforcement

For those who missed any of the FCPA enforcement news during the recent hyper-active stretch, here's what happened:

July 28 -- Label-maker Avery Dennison Corporation resolved civil and administrative charges brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC filed settled enforcement actions in the United States District Court for the Central District of California charging Avery with violating the FCPA's books and records and internal controls provisions. In the administrative action, the SEC ordered Avery to disgorge $273,213 plus $45,257 in prejudgment interest. In the federal civil action, Avery will pay a civil penalty of $200,000.

July 30 -- Oil and gas driller Helmerich & Payne Inc. was hit with a $1 million criminal penalty by the Justice Department to settle Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations related to improper payments to government officials in Argentina and Venezuela. The SEC ordered the Tulsa, Oklahoma-based firm to disgorge $320,604 plus prejudgment interest of $55,077.22.

July 31 -- The Justice Department announced that valve-maker Control Components Inc. (CCI) of Rancho Santa Margarita, California pleaded guilty to violating the anti-bribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (15 U.S.C. §78dd-2) and the Travel Act (18 U.S. C. §1952). CCI admitted bribing foreign officials and private parties in a decade-long scheme to secure contracts in about 36 countries. CCI's plea agreement requires it to pay a criminal fine of $18.2 million, implement an anti-bribery compliance program, retain a compliance monitor for three years, serve a three-year term of organizational probation, and cooperate with ongoing investigations.

July 31 -- The SEC filed a settled enforcement action against Nature's Sunshine Products Inc. (NSP), its Chief Executive Officer Douglas Faggioli. 54, and its former Chief Financial Officer Craig D. Huff, 53. According to the SEC, the charges relate to cash payments made in 2000 and 2001 by the Brazilian subsidiary of NSP, a manufacturer of nutritional and personal care products, to import unregistered products into Brazil and the subsequent falsification of its books and records to conceal the payments.

July 31 -- The Justice Department said a Canadian citizen has been indicted for his alleged role in an eight-year conspiracy to defraud the United Nations Oil for Food Program and to bribe Iraqi government officials in connection with the sale of a chemical additive used in refining leaded fuel. Ousama Naaman, 60, of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, was indicted on Aug. 7, 2008, in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The indictment charges Naaman, who's in Germany, with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and two counts of violating the FCPA.

August 4 -- The year's third Foreign Corrupt Practices Act trial started when the husband-and-wife movie producers arrested in 2007 faced a federal jury in Los Angeles. Prosecutors allege that Gerald and Patricia Green paid more than $1.8 million in bribes to a former governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand in return for $14 million in contracts to stage the Bangkok Film Festival. In July this year, Frederic Bourke was convicted of conspiracy to violate the FCPA. And . . .

August 5 -- William Jefferson, the former nine-term congressman from Louisiana, was found guilty of 11 of 16 corruption charges by a federal jury, including conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. He was acquitted of a substantive charge of violating the FCPA. He was also found guilty of soliciting and taking bribes, depriving citizens of honest services, money laundering and racketeering, and conspiracy to solicit bribes.

* * *
Another day, another lesson. Concerning state-law violations underlying federal Travel Act charges, a reader has pointed out that the CCI indictments weren't the first. He or she cited U.S. v. David H. Mead and Frerik Pluimers, (Cr. 98-240-01) D.N.J., Trenton Div. 1998, where defendant Mead was convicted following a jury trial of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and the Travel Act (incorporating New Jersey's commercial bribery statute) and two counts each of substantive violations of the FCPA and the Travel Act. The reader said there have been other similar cases. For us (and others we've heard from), it's been a prosecutorial tactic hidden in plain sight. Our eyes are now open. And we say again: Compliance programs shouldn't overlook the dangers of bribes to private parties overseas.

* * *
We remember laying on our back as a kid, outdoors on clear nights in New Hampshire, mesmerized by the annual Perseid meteor shower. This week we were city-bound and missed the show. Maybe next year.

* * *
We're outta here for a three-day weekend. Thanks to everyone who helped make this another great week. See you Monday.
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Tuesday
Jul282009

Avery Dennison Settles China-Related Violations

Label-maker Avery Dennison Corporation, whose compliance problems in China were described in an LA Times story last January, has resolved civil and administrative charges brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The SEC filed settled enforcement actions in the United States District Court for the Central District of California charging Avery with violating the FCPA's books and records and internal controls provisions. In the administrative action, the SEC ordered Avery to disgorge $273,213 and $45,257 in prejudgment interest. In the federal civil action, Avery agreed to a final judgment requiring it to pay a civil penalty of $200,000.

From 2002 through 2005, the Reflectives Division of Avery (China) Co. Ltd. paid or authorized the payment of kickbacks, sightseeing trips, and gifts to Chinese government officials amounting to about $30,000. In one transaction, Avery China secured a sale to a state-owned end user by agreeing to pay a Chinese official a kickback of nearly $25,000 through a distributor. Avery China earned $273,213 in profit from the transaction, which it inaccurately booked as a sale to the distributor rather than to the end user.

The SEC said, "In addition, after Avery acquired a company in June 2007, employees of the acquired company continued their pre-acquisition practice of making illegal petty cash payments to customs or other officials in several foreign countries, resulting in illegal payments of approximately $51,000. Avery failed to accurately record these payments and gifts in the company’s books and records, and failed to implement or maintain a system of internal accounting controls sufficient to detect and prevent such illegal payments or promises of illegal payments."

The SEC charged Avery, a Delaware corporation headquartered in Pasadena, California, with violating Sections 13(b)(2)(A) and 13(b)(2)(B) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The Justice Department didn't announce any charges.

A spokesperson for Avery told the FCPA Blog, "What's important to us is the fact, noted in the SEC's administrative order, that we discovered the questionable actions. We investigated them and took disciplinary action, and reported them to the Securities Exchange Commission and Department of Justice (DOJ). As the SEC's administrative order notes, in some cases we prevented them. We believe ethical conduct is critical to our reputation and our success, and we back that up with a rigorous training and reporting process to help employees make the right decisions. Our training includes training on the FCPA."

Don Lee's January story in the LA Times was unique for its first-hand accounts of the China violations. Here's one vignette:

During 2003 and 2004, it became common for Avery managers to retain Chinese "consultants" to secure contracts in exchange for a share of the proceeds. One was a midlevel Public Security Ministry official who said he could connect Avery with a state-owned truck manufacturer in northeastern China that needed red-and-white reflective stickers for the backs of trucks. Avery's expense accounts also showed lavish spending on entertaining clients, according to people who recorded the reports. By summer 2004, things were changing. On a Friday morning in September, [salesman Ding Yong] said he was called to the 11th-floor conference room of Avery's offices in southwest Shanghai. Sales were running at triple the pace of two years earlier, and Ding thought his superiors might want to renew his contract. Instead, Avery sent him packing.
Avery Dennison Corporation trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol AVY.

The SEC's Litigation Release No. 21156 and Accounting and Auditing Enforcement Release No. 3020 (b0th dated July 28, 2009) in Securities and Exchange Commission v. Avery Dennison Corporation (United States District Court for the Central District of California, Civil Action No. CV09-5493 DSF (CWx)) can be viewed here.

Download the SEC's July 28, 2009 cease and desist order in Accounting and Auditing Enforcement Release No. 3021 and Administrative Proceeding File No. 3-13564 here.
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Monday
Jan122009

Aon's New Path

A couple of months ago, guest-blogger Scott Moritz talked about risk-based compliance. His post, we now see, was prophetic. Why? Because just last week, when Aon settled an enforcement action with the U.K.'s Financial Services Authority, the real star of the show was . . . risk-based compliance.

The FSA's Final Notice described how both U.K.-based Aon Ltd and its U.S. parent, Aon Corporation, have improved the way they'll deal with intermediaries -- the group apparently responsible for Aon's problems in a number of countries. The Aon companies, the Final Notice said, have "designed and implemented a new global anti-corruption programme that includes a policy limiting the use of third parties. Aon Ltd has also implemented robust risk-based procedures that control and restrict the circumstances in which staff may make payments to Overseas Third Parties, particularly in high risk jurisdictions."

Aon's new compliance policy, according to the Final Notice, generally . . .

. . . prohibits the use of third parties whose only service to Aon is to assist in the obtaining and retaining of business solely through client introductions in countries where the risk of corrupt practices is anything other than low. These jurisdictions are defined by reference to an internationally accepted corruption perceptions index. Any use of third parties not prohibited by the policy must be reviewed and approved in accordance with global anti-corruption protocols. . . . In addition, Aon Ltd has implemented an enhanced comprehensive risk-based training regime for its staff.
How does risk-based compliance work? Guest-blogger Moritz said the concept is simple: certain customers, vendors, and intermediaries represent a higher compliance risk than others. Geography, nexus to government officials, business type, method of payment, dollar volume -- all are risk indicators. And he said the key to any risk-based approach is the strategic use of information technology -- tracking and sorting the critical elements, including risk-ranking, as well as enhanced due diligence and ongoing monitoring of high-risk parties proportionate to their risk profiles.

The benefits of risk-based compliance are clear. In places where risks are very low, compliance burdens can be reduced. Where risks are anything but low, compliance is stepped up one or more notches, to make sure nothing slips through. As we've often said, when there are more red flags around, the proper response is more compliance, not less. And that's what risk-based compliance is all about.
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And one more thing . . .

Take a look at Don Lee's amazing story from the January 12th edition of the LA Times about Avery Dennison's FCPA compliance problems in China. Shanghai bureau chief Lee seems to have gotten everyone to talk on the record. This is one of the best articles we've read in the mainstream press or anywhere else about the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act at ground level.
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