Aon Corporation, one of the biggest insurance brokerage firms in the world, agreed today to settled FCPA charges with the DOJ and SEC.
Entries in Vietnam (38)
President Obama meets tomorrow on Bali, Indonesia with the heads of state from ASEAN -- the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
The Guardian today reported the arrest of a British businessman who allegedly paid for the son of a Vietnamese state bank governor to attend Durham University in the U.K. in exchange for a banknote printing deal.
A report this week by the VOA's Trung Nguyen said although Vietnam ranks 116 on the Corruption Perception Index and is one of Asia's most corrupt countries, citizens there want to clean things up. The problem is that they don't know how.
The former boss of Ho Chi Minh City's transport department gets life in prison for taking bribes from a Japanese company. The Japanese executives who admitted paying the bribes aren't punished. FCPA cases involving Vietnam have proliferated.
The DOJ said today that three former employees and a partner of Nexus Technologies Inc., a Philadelphia-based company, were sentenced late yesterday for their roles in a conspiracy to bribe Vietnamese government officials.
San Jose, California-based VOiP company Veraz Networks, Inc. paid $300,000 to settle charges brought by the SEC that it violated the books and records and internal controls provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) by making illegal payments to foreign officials in China and Vietnam.
The SEC said the company hired a consultant in China who in 2007 and 2008 gave gifts and offered improper payments worth about $40,000 to officials at a government-controlled telco to win business for Veraz. Also in 2007 and 2008, a Veraz employee made improper payments to the CEO of a government-controlled company in Vietnam to win.
Veraz had disclosed the $300,000 settlement with the SEC in March. It said then that because of the ongoing compliance investigations, it 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. 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. The SEC then requested documents related to Vietnam.
The SEC said without elaborating that it had help in its investigation from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Veraz Networks trades on NASDAQ under the symbol VRAZ.
View the SEC's Litigation Release No. 21581 (June 29, 2010) in Securities and Exchange Commission v. Veraz Networks, Inc., Case No. CV-10-2849 (PVT) (N.D. Cal. filed June 29, 2010) here.
View the SEC's civil complaint against Veraz here.
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.
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.
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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.
If you haven't seen (or heard) last week's episode of Bill Moyers' Journal on PBS called LBJ's Path To War, it's something special. The hour-long program consists almost entirely of excerpts from President Johnson's recorded phone calls with advisors and congressional leaders. He's talking to them about the Vietnam problem.
The first call is from November 1963, when Johnson had just taken office after JFK's assassination. There were about 15,000 U.S. military advisors on the ground in South Vietnam. The last call we hear is from the end of 1965, when the build-up of combat forces had reached 184,000 and there was no end in sight.
It's eerie to listen as Johnson struggles to find a military strategy for Indochina that's politically acceptable back home. Several times you hear him fantasizing about a stronger and more legitimate government in Saigon, one that could provide an honorable exit by inviting U.S. troops to leave its soil. But as we all know, he never found a peace partner there -- only corruption and infighting. As Johnson slid deeper into war, he described himself as a victim trapped by events. There's no hint he ever saw himself as a leader who could shape history. But that's what he did.
Eavesdropping on the commander-in-chief from our time now -- and knowing how the catastrophe that Vietnam became destroyed his presidency and cost maybe a million lives, including 56,000 Americans -- is almost unbearably frustrating. Like Marty McFly in Back To The Future, you want to yell, "No, don't do that."
Bill Moyers, who was working for LBJ in the White House during those years, closes the program with thoughts about Afghanistan. Although the world is different, he says, we're once again "fighting in remote provinces against an enemy who can bleed us slowly and wait us out, because he will still be there when we are gone."
Afghanistan ranked 179 out of 180 on the 2009 Corruption Perception Index, and 7th worst on Foreign Policy's Failed States Index. So the idea of finding a stable and legitmate partner in any government there is another fantasy. That leaves today's commander-in-chief with the same two military options Johnson himself said he had: Go all the way in or get all the way out. Johnson did neither.
"We will never know what would have happened if Lyndon Johnson had said no to more war," Moyers says. "We know what happened because he said yes."