On 6 September 2018, following hot on the heels of the important decision on the application of litigation privilege in internal investigations in ENRC v Serious Fraud Office (read our recent summary here), the Administrative Court handed down its judgment in R (KBR Inc.) v Serious Fraud Office concerning the Serious Fraud Office’s (SFO) powers to compel the production of documents held outside of the United Kingdom by companies incorporated outside of the United Kingdom. The Administrative Court held that where there is a “sufficient connection” to the United Kingdom, the SFO can compel the production of such documents. Continue reading
Today the Court of Appeal of England and Wales issued its judgment in The Director of the Serious Fraud Office and Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation Limited regarding the privileged nature of documents created in the context of an internal investigation.
The Court of Appeal reversed the High Court’s decision and found that all of the interviews conducted by ENRC’s external lawyers were covered by litigation privilege, and so too was the work conducted by the forensic accountancy advisors for the books and records review. The Court of Appeal found that ENRC did in fact reasonably contemplate prosecution when the documents were created. Moreover, while determining that it did not have to decide the issue, the Court of Appeal also stated that it may also have departed from the existing narrow definition of “client” for legal advice privilege purposes in the context of corporate investigations. Continue reading
On August 24, 2018, the Second Circuit handed down its long-awaited decision in United States v. Hoskins,  addressing the question of whether a non-resident foreign national can be held liable for violating the FCPA under a conspiracy theory, where the foreign national is not an officer, director, employee, shareholder or agent of a U.S. issuer or domestic concern and has not committed an act in furtherance of an FCPA violation while in the U.S. In a word, the court held that the answer is “no,” concluding that the government may not “expand the extraterritorial reach of the FCPA by recourse to the conspiracy and complicity statutes.” The court added, however, that the same foreign national could be liable as a co-conspirator if he acted as an agent of a primary violator.
While the ruling is undoubtedly an important curb on some potential sources of liability for foreign entities and individuals, the availability of agent liability may limit the practical impact of the decision for many non-resident foreign nationals. Unfortunately, the decision did not address the scope of agent liability under the FCPA, leaving that issue open. As a result, further development in this and subsequent cases — especially with respect to the meaning of “agency” under the FCPA — will necessarily be required before the full impact of the Hoskins ruling becomes clear. However, the decision is likely good news for foreign companies that enter into joint ventures with U.S. companies and some other classes of potential defendants, as it may be harder for the U.S. government to charge them with FCPA violations. Continue reading
One of the most frequently discussed white collar issues of late has been the benefits of voluntarily self-disclosing to the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) allegations of misconduct involving a corporation. This is the beginning of periodic analyses of white collar issues unique to financial institutions, and in this issue we examine whether and to what extent a financial institution can expect a benefit from DOJ for a voluntary self-disclosure (“VSD”), especially with regard to money laundering or Bank Secrecy Act violations. Although the public discourse regarding VSDs tends to suggest that there are benefits to be gained, a close examination of the issue specifically with respect to financial institutions shows that the benefits that will confer in this area, if any, are neither easy to anticipate nor to quantify. A full consideration of whether to make a VSD to DOJ should include a host of factors beyond the quantifiable benefit, ranging from the likelihood of independent enforcer discovery; to the severity, duration, and evidentiary support for a potential violation; and to the expectations of prudential regulators and any associated licensing or regulatory consequences, as well as other factors. Continue reading
Corporate misconduct allegations often result in investigations by multiple agencies, including foreign, federal, state, and local authorities. Without proper coordination, companies risk being hit with duplicative penalties for the same misconduct. Duplicative corporate penalties can be avoided, but coordinating a corporate resolution with multiple authorities is hard to navigate.
Within the United States, federal prosecutors often have overlapping jurisdiction with other federal criminal and civil prosecutors, federal and state regulators, and local prosecutors. In international investigations, federal prosecutors also have to cooperate with foreign authorities with overlapping jurisdiction. All of these players can have a legitimate interest in protecting the public from economic crimes. Regulatory competition, however, often leads government authorities to want to take the lead over other authorities. Other times, government authorities jump from the sidelines onto the field of play when a corporate resolution is near and refuse to leave the field without a share of the penalties. A coordinated resolution is difficult to achieve in either case. In the end, the overlapping jurisdiction and regulatory competition can either lead to (1) each authority “piling on” their share of penalties or (2) a coordinated resolution that identifies the collective harm caused by the company’s misconduct, the appropriate penalties for that harm, and the fair allocation of the penalties among the interested government players. Continue reading
by Liz Campbell
Prosecuting corporate criminality is not straightforward. As a result of these difficulties, the UK Parliament is turning to an indirect form of corporate criminal liability: the Bribery Act 2010 introduced the corporate offence of failure to prevent bribery (FtPB), and this provision has been emulated with respect to the failure to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion in the Criminal Finances Act 2017.
In brief, a relevant commercial organisation (C) is guilty of FtPB if a person associated with C bribes another person with the intention of obtaining or retaining business or an advantage for C. An ‘associated’ person is an individual or body who ‘performs services’ for or on behalf of the organisation, and this definition was framed broadly intentionally. Crucially, the corporate entity can rely on the section 7(2) defence that it had “adequate procedures” in place designed to prevent persons associated with it from bribing. Continue reading
On April 18, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in Lagos v. United States. On appeal from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Lagos presents the important issue of whether a corporate victim’s professional costs—such as investigatory and legal expenses—incurred as a result of a criminal defendant’s offense conduct must be reimbursed under the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act (“MVRA”).
The issue has been subject to a recurring circuit split and Lagos now offers the Supreme Court an opportunity to resolve the conflict. Moreover, as noted by the certiorari petition, the Court’s decision will necessarily have implications “every time corporations engage in internal investigations or audits at the suspicion of wrongdoing.” Continue reading
But for other more salacious political concerns, the biggest story of the last couple weeks likely would have been Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before Congress. Zuckerberg spent two days answering hundreds of questions from lawmakers. Much of the questioning was concerned with Facebook’s protection, or alleged lack thereof, of its users’ privacy. The testimony, however, once again raises questions about how companies that engage in repeated instances of misconduct should be sanctioned. Continue reading
by Jason Driscoll
This post is the second part of a two-part post by the author.
In my previous post (DeCoster v. United States: Testing the Limits of the Responsible Corporate Officer Doctrine), I discussed how the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) and the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) have revived the Responsible Corporate Officer (“RCO”) doctrine in an attempt to increase compliance with the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (“FDCA”). In light of the incarcerative sentences in the Quality Egg case, I addressed the DOJ’s new strategy of seeking enhanced sanctions in RCO cases. In United States v. Quality Egg, LLC, the government brought FDCA Section 333(a)(1) misdemeanor food adulteration cases against two corporate officers—Jack and Peter DeCoster—ultimately securing three-month prison sentences premised largely on the RCO doctrine. On appeal, the DeCosters argued that the incarcerative sentences violated due process absent evidence of mens rea or actus reus. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the sentences, however, holding that a three-month strict liability prison sentence was “relatively light” doing “no grave damage” to an offender’s reputation. A petition for a writ of certiorari followed, inviting the Supreme Court to review the doctrine for the first time since 1975, but was denied. Continue reading
On 19 March 2018, Singapore passed legislation introducing the concept of the deferred prosecution agreement (“DPA”) to the jurisdiction for the first time. Under the new laws, corporations (but not individuals) facing prosecution for offences of corruption, money laundering or receipt of stolen property may attempt to negotiate the terms of a DPA with prosecuting authorities, under which they would avoid prosecution, in return for adherence to various conditions imposed upon them, for a set period of time.
By introducing the DPA as an enforcement tool, Singapore joins the ranks of the United States, Brazil, the United Kingdom and France, which form the vanguard of an increasingly consistent global approach to corporate criminal resolutions. Australia and Canada are also both currently evaluating whether to introduce similar legislation. Continue reading