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FCPA Blog Daily News

Entries in Douglas Murphy (20)

Monday
Aug112014

WSJ: Esquenazi, Rodriguez will seek Supreme Court review

Image courtesy of the U.S. Supreme CourtSam Rubenfeld of the Wall Street Journal reported that Joel Esquenazi and Carlos Rodriguez, who were convicted for FCPA-related offenses in a scheme to bribe officials at Haiti’s state-owned telecom company, plan to file a petition this week for a writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Dec242012

Magazine bashes FCPA, defends Wal-Mart

An article in the National Review Friday slammed the FCPA and the DOJ's enforcement of it.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Dec042012

A compliance lesson from middle school

The seventh grade shop teacher said, 'Always cut the wood on the way side of the line. That protects against mistakes. You can shorten a board, but you can never make it longer.'

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jan122012

'It's A Growth Industry, Isn't It?'

Jack Stanley's admissions when he pleaded guilty three years ago to conspiracy to violate the FCPA and commit mail and wire fraud were staggering.

Click to read more ...

Monday
May162011

How Much Prison Time For Lindsey and Lee?

They're facing up to 30 years behind bars. The government isn't likely to ask for jail terms of that length. But prosecutors will want long sentences -- probably more like 10 or 12 years.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
May112010

The Hard Timers

Compliance officers will want to keep a copy of the table below close at hand. What better way to answer those who insist that the FCPA is small potatoes, after all, when you look at the relatively few enforcement actions over the past 33 years.

Here are the 22 men (no women so far), most of them former company executives, who've spent time in prison for FCPA-related convictions. Each name that follows represents a terrible tragedy, often with permanent damage extending to families. As the compiler of the list said: "By my count there have been 187 people charged with violating the FCPA. This list will look a little different at the end of the year."

We'd like to thank the generous individual responsible for this post, but that's not possible. He or she has asked to remain anonymous, making this contribution pro bono publico.

The information is compiled from the Federal Bureau of Prisons' inmate locator. Readers with suggestions and corrections are welcome to let us know.

 

Name

Related Company

Register #

Age Race Sex

Release Date

Location

FERNANDO MAYA BASURTO

ABB Ltd

39135-177

48-White-M

UNKNOWN

HOUSTON FDC

CHARLES PAUL EDWARD JUMET

Ports Engineering Consultants Corporation

75638-083

53-White-M

UNKNOWN

NOT IN BOP CUSTODY

SULEIMAN A NASSAR

Lockheed

45723-019

73-White-M

11/19/1996

RELEASED

DAVID H MEAD

Saybolt

79529-079

72-White-M

7/21/1999

RELEASED

HERBERT STEINDLER

General Electric

02423-061

71-White-M

3/13/2000

RELEASED

HERBERT LAWRENCE TANNENBAUM

Tanner Management Corp

82537-054

85-White-M

4/20/2000

RELEASED

RICHARD G PITCHFORD

Central Asia American Enterprise Fund

26036-016

75-White-M

12/4/2003

RELEASED

ROBERT RICHARD KING

Owl Securities and Investments

14447-045

76-White-M

6/30/2006

RELEASED

STEVEN LYNWOOD HEAD

Titan

95321-198

63-White-M

9/29/2008

RELEASED

YAW OSEI AMOAKO

ITXC Corporation

60267-050

58-Black-M

12/17/2008

RELEASED

PAUL GRAYSON NOVAK

Willbros

43505-279

43-White-M

12/19/2008

RELEASED

ROGER MICHAEL YOUNG

ITXC Corporation

29574-016

49-White-M

4/10/2009

RELEASED

STEVEN JOSEPH OTT

ITXC Corporation

60540-050

50-White-M

6/17/2009

RELEASED

RAMENDRA BASU

World Bank

29254-016

47-White-M

8/7/2009

RELEASED

FAHEEM MOUSA SALAM

 

28567-016

32-White-M

1/7/2010

RELEASED

MISAO HIOKI

Bridgestone

90290-111

56-Asian-M

11/23/2010

LOMPOC USP

DAVID KAY

American Rice

13749-179

58-White-M

1/27/2011

TEXARKANA FCI

JIM BOB BROWN

Willbros

66158-179

48-White-M

1/29/2011

ATLANTA USP

CHRISTIAN SAPSIZIAN

Alcatel SA

78172-004

63-White-M

3/18/2011

NE OHIO CORR CTR CI

JASON EDWARD STEPH

Willbros

36444-177

40-White-M

3/28/2011

EL RENO FCI

DOUGLAS MURPHY

American Rice

13987-179

53-White-M

12/31/2012

EL RENO FCI

SHU QUAN-SHENG

AMAC International

58250-083

69-Asian-M

2/18/2013

LA TUNA FCI

 

Thursday
Nov122009

Frederic Bourke's Big Bet

While we're watching the teletype (left) for news about William Jefferson's sentencing Friday morning (see our post here), let's talk about Mr. Bourke. He was sentenced Tuesday to a year and a day in jail and fined a million dollars for conspiring to violate the FCPA and lying to FBI agents. People in the courtroom said when he was convicted, Bourke was shocked. So apparently he never expected the jury to find him guilty. But when he was sentenced, he was happy and relieved. So he must have been expecting a lot worse. And that probably means the DOJ never offered him a deal with so little jail time.

Why was Bourke shocked by the verdict? Because he had good facts and good law and good lawyers. He didn't pay any bribes himself; he was one of Viktor Kozeny's victims; he'd blown the whistle on Kozeny's fraud and testified to a state grand jury that indicted Kozeny; he thought he'd have the local law defense (he didn't; Judge Scheindlin ruled against it); George Mitchell was his friend, co-investor and character witness; he had smart, active lawyers, and so on. So let's face it. As a defendant, Bourke had a lot going for him. That's why he was shocked by the verdict.

But should he have been? We don't think so. Defendants haven't done well with juries in FCPA-related cases. There hasn't been a full acquittal -- Mr. Jefferson's split decision notwithstanding -- since 1991. Why? For two main reasons.

Before we get to reason number one, we acknowledge that there are lots of legal arguments you can raise about the words of the FCPA -- about the business nexus element, the meaning of "foreign official," and others. And those are good arguments on paper. But judges haven't wanted to hear much about them. In the Kay and Murphy case, for example, the Fifth Circuit even warned against defendants who try "splitting hairs" (they were talking about the meaning of "obtaining or retaining business"). So that's reason number one why defendants don't do well in court. Judges don't welcome a lot of legal argument about the FCPA. Bourke's trial also illustrated the point. Judge Scheindlin didn't allow the local law defense. That surprised us and it dented Bourke's chances of acquittal.

Reason number two: Juries hate graft. That's what we said when the Greens were convicted in September. There's no other conclusion to draw from the trial record in FCPA-related prosecutions stretching back eighteen years. We'll say it again: FCPA cases are about bribes to corrupt foreign officials. They're about sophisticated and often wealthy people looking for shortcuts, hoping to subvert foreign governments for personal or corporate gain. Wheeling and dealing in exotic places. Flashing cash and pulling strings. That's how the prosecutors tell it and juries lap it up. So even if the government's evidence isn't rock solid on all the elements of an FCPA offense, the jury will still get the picture that people who should know better stepped over the line. And they'll convict.

Coming back to Bourke, we'd have to say he took a big risk going to trial, even though he had a lot going for him. But he was fortunate. Judge Scheindlin was on the bench. She said he was at least partly a victim so she gave him a break on the jail time. That's how justice should work (and why no one is sorry the federal sentencing guidelines aren't compulsory anymore).

One more thing. Bourke still has an appeal to the Second Circuit. Defendants who plea bargain can't appeal but those who go to trial can. That's a reason to go to trial, although it can't be nice to sit in a jail cell hoping your appeal will work (they rarely do). Still, Bourke's chances with the Second Circuit aren't too bad.

Our conclusion: If the government never offered Bourke less than a year in prison as part of a plea deal, he came out ahead by going to trial. And he may do even better after his appeal. But his decision to go to trial in the first place was against the odds. And he ended up lucky.

Monday
Nov022009

How Appealing Are Bourke's Chances?

On the subject of Frederic Bourke -- the wealthy entrepreneur convicted in July of conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and lying to FBI agents -- we now know what issues his lawyers plan to raise on appeal. Most relate to what Bourke knew and intended -- his mens rea. In a recent pleading arguing for his release pending the appeal, his lawyers said:

[T]he issues Bourke intends to raise on appeal relate closely to each other and, in turn, to the critical disputed aspects of the case. A series of issues—the conscious avoidance instruction, the good faith instruction, the absence of an instruction on "willfully and corruptly," and the exclusion of the Dresner testimony, for example—bear directly on Bourke's mens rea, which was the central battleground at trial. The assessment of Bourke's mens rea, in turn, depends heavily on the weight given the testimony of Bodmer and Farrell. . . .
The mens rea argument didn't work for Bourke in his motion for acquittal or a new trial (see here). Nor did it work for David Kay and Douglas Murphy in the Fifth Circuit or with the Supreme Court. See our posts here and here.

But it might work for Bourke on appeal. He's got deep pockets and good facts. And the timing is right. There are more questions these days about the criminalization of business mistakes and mere negligence. Under the influence of thoughtful commentators such as Ellen Podgor at the White Collar Crime Prof Blog and Tom Kirkendall at Houston's Clear Thinkers, more appellate justices must be wondering if the vague elements that are part of so many white-collar prosecutions are fair -- including the ever-more elusive mens rea element. Last month, the Supreme Court agreed to review whether the honest-services statute used to prosecute Jeffrey Skilling and Conrad Black (18 U.S.C. § 1346) is too vague to meet constitutional standards. If that's a signal of wider judicial discomfort with some of the push-the-envelope white-collar prosecutions, mens rea could be in play, and that could help Bourke.

His prosecution didn't include a substantive FCPA charge. Bourke was tried and convicted for conspiracy to violate the FCPA. On appeal, some of his arguments will probably relate exclusively to the conspiracy elements -- such as whether there needs to be an overt act. So he could still win on appeal without us learning anything new about the FCPA itself.

Bourke is scheduled to be sentenced on November 10, 2009. He faces up to ten years in prison.

View a copy of the October 16, 2009 Reply Memorandum in Support of Defendant Frederic Bourke, Jr.'s Motion For Release Pending Appeal here.

Read all our posts about the prosecution of Frederic Bourke here.
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Monday
Sep142009

No Hollywood Ending

An LA jury needed not days but hours to convict the husband-and-wife movie producers of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. They were also found guilty on related charges, including conspiracy, money laundering, and tax cheating. Gerald Green, 77, and Patricia, 52, are facing at least ten years behind bars and maybe a lot more for bribing a Thai official in exchange for contracts to produce the Bangkok Film Festival.

The trial's tragic outcome shouldn't surprise anyone. There hasn't been an acquittal in an FCPA prosecution since 1991. Not one. That's why comments from Patricia Green's lawyer are hard to understand. Marilyn Bednarski told the LA Times here, "To me it’s a case of circumstantial evidence . . . the people of Thailand were not victimized in any way" because the Greens provided "top notch services." Really?

Gerald Green's lawyer, Jerome Mooney, was more in touch. The DOJ used the case, he said, partly to send a warning to the entertainment industry: clean up the way you deal with "community relations" in foreign countries, or else. "We understand the government taking a shot across the bow of Hollywood," Mooney said. "We just wish the shell hadn't landed on our clients' boat."

From the convictions this year of the Greens, Frederic Bourke and William Jefferson, and those from prior years of David Kay, Douglas Murphy and David Mead, and all the prosecutions and guilty pleas in between, here are some things that every FCPA defendant should keep in mind before their trial starts:

Juries hate graft. FCPA cases are about bribes to corrupt foreign officials. They're about sophisticated and often wealthy people looking for shortcuts, hoping to subvert foreign governments for personal or corporate gain. Wheeling and dealing in exotic places. Flashing cash and pulling strings. Juries lap it up. As we've said before, even if the government's evidence isn't rock solid on all the elements of an FCPA offense, the jury will still get the picture that people stepped over the line of acceptable business behavior. And they'll convict.

There are clouds of witnesses. Forget lone wolves and rogue employees. Foreign bribery is usually a team effort. When the government gets a whiff of the plot, it hauls in everyone -- from those who might have had a hand in it to anyone who could have overheard talk at the water cooler. If it's early in the investigation, the bit players can be persuaded to turn, to become the government's cooperating witnesses or confidential informants. Supporting actors are given immunity or offered the hope of lighter sentences. So they sing about their bosses, colleagues, friends. They have extra incentive if they blame the aforementioned for dragging them into the criminal activity.

Evidence is everywhere. Bribes have to be planned, funded, paid, and covered up. There's always someone on the receiving end, so the complications multiply. It all takes a lot of work and usually leaves behind a trail that's easy to find and follow. Phony contracts and dummy invoices, hot money bouncing from bank to bank, fake agents and distributors, shell companies as fronts, two sets of books, and so on.

Show and tell. These days the government is likely to show up for trial with audio tapes of the accused discussing the bribes or videos showing the actual handover of cash. "Wearing a wire" once meant strapping to your torso an awkward piece of electronic gear the size of a croissant. Not any more. A cell phone on the table can be an open mic. A spy pen in the breast pocket can capture or broadcast sound and pictures. Scary stuff. And once the feds have tapes, they may not even need the cooperating witnesses or informants at the trial.

Related charges a-plenty. In foreign bribery cases, the government might start with FCPA charges. But remember: bribes to foreign officials need to be planned, funded, paid, and covered up. So there's usually a conspiracy, money laundering, traveling to commit the offense, fraud and obstruction in the cover-up, and tax-cheating to boot. What a mess. The government can throw a lot of mud at the wall. If some doesn't stick, so what? Prosecutors can drop weak charges later and plow ahead with the rest.

Examples: Frederic Bourke was convicted of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and a Travel Act offense, but not the FCPA itself. William Jefferson was acquitted of a substantive FCPA charge but found guilty of conspiracy to violate the FCPA, soliciting and taking bribes, depriving citizens of honest services, money laundering and racketeering, and conspiracy to solicit bribes. Gerald Green beat the obstruction rap -- the government ended up dropping the charge -- but he and his wife were convicted of conspiracy to violate the FCPA, eight violations of the FCPA and seven counts of money laundering. Mrs. Green was also found guilty of two counts of falsely subscribing a U.S. tax return.
_______

Not everyone accused of violating the FCPA is guilty. And certainly those accused and awaiting trial are presumed innocent unless and until found guilty in a court of law. But with no acquittals in an FCPA trial since 1991, defendants and their counsel should have their eyes wide open about their chances in court.

View prior posts about the Greens here.
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Monday
Aug172009

The Feds Should Take A Meeting

Husband-and-wife movie producers Gerald and Patricia Green are now on trial in LA for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Prosecutors allege they paid more than $1.8 million in bribes to Juthamas Siriwan, a former governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, in return for $14 million in contracts to stage the Bangkok Film Festival. They're also charged with conspiracy, money laundering, obstruction, and filing false tax returns. He's 76, she's 54, and they're now facing up to five years in prison for each FCPA charge, up to 10 years for each tax count, and up to 20 years for the money-laundering and obstruction charges.

Theirs is the third FCPA-related trial this year. In July, Frederick Bourke of the Dooney & Bourke handbag company was convicted by a jury in Manhattan of conspiracy to violate the FCPA. A month later, William Jefferson, the former nine-term congressman from Louisiana, was found guilty on a similar charge (among 10 others) in Alexandria, Virginia.

We don't know how many currently-serving U.S. Attorneys or Assistant U.S. Attorneys had seen an FCPA trial before this year. But the number could be zero or close to it. So going into the recent trials, prosecutors didn't have a lot of courtroom-tested resources to draw from. That might explain why the government's proposed jury instructions on the FCPA counts in the Greens' case are copied verbatim from Judge Shira Scheindlin's instructions in Frederic Bourke's trial. There's one problem though. Those instructions contained some errors.

The most glaring mistake concerns the "interstate commerce" element of an FCPA offense. That instruction, as they'd say in Hollywood, is just so 1997. As Prof Mike Koehler explained on his blog,
The [Bourke] instructions say (on pg. 24) that a "domestic concern" (as Bourke is under FCPA-speak) "must have intended to make use of the mails or a means or instrumentality of interstate commerce" in order to violate the FCPA. This is the so-called "territorial" jurisdictional provision found at 78dd-2. However, the 1998 amendments to the FCPA expanded the jurisdictional reach of the FCPA, as applied to "domestic concerns," by adding an alternative "nationality" jurisdictional provision found at 78dd-2(i) which removes the interstate commerce / U.S. territorial nexus requirements. Thus, a "domestic concern" can be charged and found liable for a substantive FCPA violation even if the prohibited activity took place entirely outside of the U.S. The jury instruction that the "domestic concern" "must have intended to make use of the mails or a means or instrumentality of interstate commerce" is thus just plain wrong.
Another problem in the Bourke instructions and repeated by the government's requested instructions in U.S. v. Green concerns the definition of "foreign official." The instructions depart from the text of the FCPA by inserting a reference to "an instrumentality" where it shouldn't be. True, the word "instrumentality" pops up all over the FCPA, but not in the place in the statute's definition of a "foreign official" where the instructions put it. The government has gone one instrumentality too far.

How serious are the errors? Not very. In Bourke's trial, the anachronistic "interstate commerce" element probably hurt the government's case but not Bourke's defense. Prosecutors had to present evidence that wasn't really needed to prove his FCPA-related violation -- i.e., Bourke's use of an instrumentality (that word again) of interstate commerce while offering or making a corrupt payment to a foreign official. And the reference to "instrumentality" in the description of a foreign official is a bit confusing but not a big deal -- probably harmless error. Still, the government might want to have a quick huddle and check its notes.

The jury instructions from United States v. Bourke, S1 05 Cr. 418 (SAS) (S. D. N. Y.) can be downloaded here.

The government's proposed jury instructions in United States v. Green (United States District Court for the Central District of California, Case #: 08-59(B) - GW) can be downloaded here.

Read all our posts about U.S. v. Green here.

* * *
More from Hollywood: A couple of years ago, LA Times reporter Glenn F. Bunting wrote a great story (here) about the budget for the movie "Sahara." The information he extracted from documents filed in a court case included this:
"Courtesy payments," "gratuities" and "local bribes" totaling $237,386 were passed out on locations in Morocco to expedite filming. A $40,688 payment to stop a river improvement project and $23,250 for "Political/Mayoral support" . . .
Since that story appeared, lawyers and pundits have wondered when the FCPA hammer would fall on Hollywood's overseas "community relations" practices. Could the Greens' case be the first of many?

* * *
New Addresses: The wrageblog has a fascinating post (here) about prison assignments in white-collar criminal cases. Here's what it says about two convicted FCPA defendants who started serving their time this year:
Douglas Murphy of American Rice, sentenced to 63 months after his FCPA conviction, is serving his sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, a medium security facility. However, David Kay, who was tried with Murphy, is serving his 37 month sentence at Texarkana, a low security facility.
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Wednesday
Dec102008

Readers Respond To Hired Guns

A comment last week from Huffington Post blogger Andrew Woods asked whether the reach of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act should be extended to ban payments to local security forces. Our post about it is here. We've now heard from several readers, and nearly all were skeptical. The note below (which we've edited slightly for context) is from a lawyer in the D.C. area. It reflects the consensus:
_________

Dear FCPA Blog,

I don't know, it sounds like a stretch...

The author should propose the enactment of a new statute to address the human rights abuse issue.

The best argument I can come up with for using the FCPA for this purpose is as follows:

Even ignoring the human rights abuse issue, something like this should be incorporated into the FCPA if it involves payment to a government official (was an "official" actually paid in this case?) for services for which governments are not traditionally paid. If so, the firms are in effect "bribing" the government officials for services the government would not normally provide and for which it would not normally be compensated. Those payments, then, create an unfair advantage and are therefore banned by the FCPA. But if such payments are allowed under local law, then firms can still rely on that affirmative defense.

As for the "obtaining and retaining business" objective, the statute may have to be tweaked with regards to "proximity," if you will. The government could argue, however, that the military officials were compensated or "bribed" in order to obtain the security necessary to continue drilling to extract oil to sell. If oil companies cannot drill in Nigeria without the security forces, they therefore cannot sell oil. So ultimately their payments for security do help them obtain or retain business.

Here I would cite your October 7, 2008 post, Case Closed For Kay And Murphy. In the Kay case, you said,

the Fifth Circuit emphatically did not think enforcing the statute against Kay and Murphy would be unfair, even if the business nexus element is a bit ambiguous. 'A man of common intelligence,' it ruled, 'would have understood that . . . in bribing foreign officials, [Kay and Murphy were] treading close to a reasonably-defined line of illegality. . . . Defendants took this risk, and splitting hairs . . . does not allow them to argue successfully that the FCPA’s standards were vague....'

[In light of the court's opinion in Kay,] compliance programs need to be expansive as well, aimed not just at bribes intended to help land business directly from foreign governments but extending also to any overseas public bribery that might create a commercial advantage. That includes payments to reduce taxes or speed up refunds, jump customs queues, obtain favorable product inspections, manipulate business registrations, alter rates or delivery times of national carriers, reduce utility costs, and enhance property usage -- to name just a few.

________

We think the debate about how far to extend the FCPA is worthwhile, and we'll continue to post ideas from readers.

Our thanks to those who have already taken the time to voice their opinions on this provocative issue.
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Monday
Oct062008

Case Closed For Kay And Murphy

The U.S. Supreme Court will not review the Fifth Circuit's decisions in U.S. v. Kay, the Justices said yesterday. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act convictions of David Kay and Douglas Murphy cannot be further appealed and the two must now serve their prison sentences -- 37 months for Kay and 63 months for Murphy.

The former executives of American Rice, Inc. were found guilty in 2005 of bribing Haitian officials in order to reduce their company's taxes. They argued all along that the FCPA didn't apply to bribes to reduce taxes, or that if it applied, the "obtaining or retaining" language in the law (the business nexus element) is so ambiguous that enforcement in their case would be unfair. The Justice's denied the petition for certiorari after a review at their Sept. 29, 2008 docket conference.

The lower court's view of the FCPA, left undisturbed by the Supreme Court, is important for at least a few reasons:

First, the Fifth Circuit said any payments to foreign officials that might assist in obtaining or retaining business by lowering the costs of operations can fall within the FCPA.

Second, the Fifth Circuit emphatically did not think enforcing the statute against Kay and Murphy would be unfair, even if the business nexus element is a bit ambiguous. "A man of common intelligence," it ruled, "would have understood that . . . in bribing foreign officials, [Kay and Murphy were] treading close to a reasonably-defined line of illegality. . . . Defendants took this risk, and splitting hairs . . . does not allow them to argue successfully that the FCPA’s standards were vague."

And third, the court said the government can satisfy the "knowing" element of an FCPA offense by showing merely that the defendants understood that their actions were illegal. No specific knowledge about the FCPA and its prohibitions is required.

Denial of cert is terrible news for Kay and Murphy and a personal tragedy for them. For the rest of us, it means the Justice Department's so-called "expansive enforcement" of the FCPA will continue. Compliance programs need to be expansive as well, aimed not just at bribes intended to help land business directly from foreign governments but extending also to any overseas public bribery that might create a commercial advantage. That includes payments to reduce taxes or speed up refunds, jump customs queues, obtain favorable product inspections, manipulate business registrations, alter rates or delivery times of national carriers, reduce utility costs, and enhance property usage -- to name just a few.

View the U.S. Supreme Court's Oct. 6, 2008 Orders List here.

View our prior posts about U.S. v. Kay here.

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