Gathering evidence overseas is so difficult that U.S. law extends the FCPA's five-year statute of limitations by up to three more years.
Entries in Letters Rogatory (3)
In July 2008, the government of Iraq launched a massive FCPA-related federal lawsuit in New York City. We first talked about it here. The complaint named 93 defendants in claims alleging bribery and fraud under the now-defunct United Nations oil-for-food program. Iraq sought more than $10 billion in damages, describing the U.N. program as "the largest financial fraud in human history." (Bernie Madoff hadn't yet reset the scale for measuring financial frauds.)
What's happening in the case today? After nearly a year, Iraq is still trying to serve some of the defendants. A claimant usually has 90 days to effect service of process; in this case, the court's been lenient by granting several extensions. Overseas service can be complicated. So Iraq asked the court to help by issuing letters rogatory (requests for assistance addressed to foreign courts). The non-binding letters are directed at courts in Austria, Jordan, Malaysia, South Africa, and the United Arab Emirates.
According to the federal court's most recent order, anyone not served by July 24, 2009 will be dropped from the suit. Until the deadline passes, none of the defendants have to file answers or raise their defenses.
The post-war Iraqi government alleged that kickbacks were paid to representatives of Saddam Hussein through illegal and undisclosed transportation and port fees, bogus after-sales service fees and overpricing of goods and services. Some of those named have already faced enforcement actions for violating the U.N. regulations or U.S. law, including the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Among them are ABB, AB Volvo, Flowserve, Akzo Nobel, Chevron, Siemens, Ingersoll-Rand, York International, Oscar Wyatt, El Paso and Textron.
There's no private right of action under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. So Iraq's claims are based on the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), common-law fraud, breach of fiduciary duty and illegal price discrimination.
Here's the full list (which may change after July 24) of everyone named as a defendant in the complaint:
AGCO Denmark A/S, AGCO S.A., Valtra do Brazil, Air Liquide Engineering, Akzo Nobel N.V., N.V. Organon ("Organon"), Intervet International B.V. (Intervet"), Mais Co. for Medical Products, Atlas Copsco CMT, AWB Ltd., B. Braun Medical France, B. Braun Melsungen A.G., B. Braun Medical Industries SDN BHD (Malaysia), Aesculap AG and KG, Aesculap Motric S.A., Aesculap Sugical Instruments SDN, Boston Scientific S.A., BNP Paribas USA, BNP Paribas (Suisse) SA, BNP Paribas Hong Kong, BNP Paribas Paris, BNP Paribas UK Holdings Limited, BNP Paribus London Branch, Buhler Ltd., David B. Chalmers, Jr, Chevron Corp., Daewoo International Corp., Daimler Chrysler AG, Dow Agrosciences, ABB AG, Eastman Kodak S.A., El Paso Corp. (successor to Coastal Corp.), Evapco (Austria), Evapco Europe S.R.L., Avio Flowserve Corp., Flowserve Corp., Flowserve Pompes (Formely Ingersoll-Dresser Pompes), Flowserve B.V.
And some more:
GlaxoSmithKline Walls House, Glaxo Smithkline Egypt SAE, ABB Automation, Glaxo Wellcome SA (South Africa) (PRY) Ltd., SmithKline Beecham International, ABG Allgemeine Baumaschinen-GesellschaftmbH, Dresser international, Ingersoll-Rand Italiana SPA, Thermo King Ireland Limited, Ingersoll-Rand Benelux N.V., Ingersoll-Rand World Trade Ltd., Cilag AG International, Janssen Pharmaceutical, ABB Elektric Sanayi AS, Kia Motors, Liebherr Export AG, Liebher France SA, Seono Pharma International, Merial, Novo Nordisk, Pauwels, Railtech International, ABB Industrie AC Machines, F. Hoffman La Roche, Roche Diagnostics GMBH, Rohm and Haas France S.A., Secalt S.A., Siemens S.A.A. of France, Siemens Sanayi ve Ticaret A.S. of Turkey, Osram Middle East FZE, Solar Turbines Europe,
And the final batch:
St. Jude Medical Export GMBH, ABB Industrie Champagne, Sulzer Buckhardt Engineering Works Ltd., Sulzer Pumpen Deutschland GMBH, Sulzer turbo Ltd., Textron Inc., David Brown Guinard Pumps S.A.S., David Brown Transmissions France S.A., Renault Trucks SAS, ABB Near East Trading Ltd., Renault Agriculture & Sonalika International, Renault V.I, Volvo Construction Equiptment AB, The Weir Group, Oscar S. Wyatt, Jr, Vitol S.A., Woodhouse International, York Air Conditioning and Refrigeration FZE, and ABB Solyvent-Ventec.
Download Iraq's June 27, 2008 complaint here.
No corporations and just a few individuals have fought Foreign Corrupt Practices Act charges in court, so only a handful of people have ever seen an FCPA defense up close. But for the first time, we have a chance to follow not one but three pending prosecutions -- in U.S.v. Kozeny (defendant Frederic Bourke, Jr., owner of the luxury handbag brand Dooney & Bourke), U.S. v. Green (husband-and-wife movie producers Gerald and Patricia), and U.S. v. Jefferson (former Rep. William J. Jefferson).
Because alleged FCPA violations usually involve some overseas behavior, prosecution and defense evidence has to be retrieved from beyond U.S. borders. There's no way to compel production from a foreign entity or individual outside the United States. So prosecutors usually work directly with foreign law enforcement agencies to exchange information on a voluntary basis; defendants don't have that option. Their route to foreign evidence is through letters rogatory. In United States usage, according to 22 CFR 92.54, "letters rogatory have been commonly utilized only for the purpose of obtaining [overseas] evidence. Requests rest entirely upon the comity of courts toward each other, and customarily embody a promise of reciprocity."
Mr. Bourke says for his defense he needs stock ownership and transfer records about a Liechtenstein corporation. In his case docket, item 135 is an order directing issuance of a letter rogatory. Attached to the order is the letter rogatory itself, formally called a "Request for International Judicial Assistance (Letter Rogatory) to the appropriate judicial authority of the Principality of Liechtenstein."
Again, a letter rogatory can't compel a foreign individual or entity outside the U.S. to produce evidence; it's only a polite request to a foreign court on behalf of one of the parties, in this case Mr. Bourke. We imagine the normally secretive authorities in Liechtenstein won't be anxious to release corporate ownership information. What happens if Mr. Bourke never sees the company records he's after? Can he describe the "missing" evidence to the jury? Can he argue that his right to a fair trial is somehow violated? We'll keep watching.
For practical advice about how to prepare, obtain and use letters rogatory, the State Department runs an excellent resource site here.
Download the Order Directing Issuance of Letter Rogatory on behalf of Frederic Bourke, Jr., with a copy of the letter rogatory attached (entered October 17, 2008) here.