Category Archives: Enforcement Policy

Two Truths and a Lie About Settlements in Bribery Cases

by Pascale Hélène Dubois, Kathleen May Peters, and Roberta Berzero

If we were playing “Two Truths and a Lie,” we would say the following: (a) settlement agreements are used in a variety of jurisdictions as an alternative to litigation; (b) settlement agreements can offer parties the opportunity to save time and resources while securing a predictable outcome; (c) there is a book that will tell you everything you need to know about settlements in bribery cases. The last, of course, is the lie. But only until Spring 2020.

What do settlements within the World Bank Group Sanctions System look like? Why do entities and individuals choose to enter into settlements with the Bank Group? How do settlements support the Bank Group’s mission to further development impact and contribute to safeguarding donor funds in the projects it finances worldwide? These and other questions will be addressed by the chapter “Settlements Within the World Bank Group Sanctions System” to be published in spring 2020 in the forthcoming book from Edward Elgar Publishing, “NEGOTIATED SETTLEMENTS IN BRIBERY CASES – A Principled Approach,” edited by Tina Søreide, Norwegian School of Economics (NHH), Norway and Abiola Makinwa, The Hague University of Applied Sciences, the Netherlands. Continue reading

DOJ Updates FCPA Corporate Enforcement Policy

By Jonathan S. Kolodner, Lisa Vicens, and Lorena Michelen

In a recent speech at the annual ABA White Collar Crime Conference in New Orleans, Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski of the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced certain changes to the FCPA Corporate Enforcement Policy (“the Enforcement Policy” or “Policy”) to address issues that the DOJ had identified since its implementation.[1]  These and other recent updates have since been codified in a revised Enforcement Policy in the Justice Manual.[2] 

The Enforcement Policy, first announced by the DOJ in November 2017, was initially applicable only to violations of the FCPA, but was subsequently extended to all white collar matters handled by the Criminal Division.[3]  The Policy was designed to encourage companies to voluntary self-disclose misconduct by providing more transparency as to the credit a company could receive for self-reporting and fully cooperating with the DOJ.  Among other things, the Enforcement Policy provides a presumption that the DOJ will decline to prosecute companies that meet the DOJ’s requirement of “voluntary self-disclosure,” “full cooperation,” and “timely and appropriate remediation,” absent “aggravating circumstances” – i.e. relating to the seriousness or frequency of the violation.  For more information on the Enforcement Policy, read our blog post explaining it

The most significant recent changes to the Enforcement Policy include eliminating the prohibition on a company’s usage of ephemeral instant messaging applications to receive full credit for “timely and appropriate remediation.”  Additionally, the modified Enforcement Policy (1) now makes clear that one requirement of cooperation, de-confliction of witness interviews, should not interfere with a company’s internal investigation; (2) confirms based on an earlier announcement, that the Policy applies in the context of a merger and acquisition (“M&A”), if an acquiring company discovers and self-discloses misconduct in a target; and (3) implements a change announced months before by the Deputy Attorney General that a company only needed to provide information about individuals “substantially involved” in the offense.  These changes are discussed in greater detail below. Continue reading

OFAC Takes Enforcement Action Against U.S. Parent Company for its Recently Acquired Chinese Subsidiary’s Iran Sanctions Violations

by Brad S. Karp, H. Christopher Boehning, Jessica S. Carey, Christopher D. Frey, Michael E. Gertzman, Roberto J. Gonzalez, Richard S. Elliott, Rachel M. Fiorill, Karen R. King, Joshua R. Thompson

Enforcement Action Shows the Importance of Pre-Acquisition Sanctions Due Diligence and Post-Acquisition Sanctions Compliance Enhancements

On March 27, 2019, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) announced a $1,869,144 settlement agreement with Connecticut-based Stanley Black & Decker, Inc. (“Stanley Black & Decker”), a manufacturer of industrial tools and household hardware, regarding 23 apparent violations of OFAC’s Iran sanctions regulations.[1] OFAC determined that Stanley Black & Decker’s Chinese subsidiary, Jiangsu Guoqiang Tools Co. Ltd. (“GQ”), knowingly provided power tools and spare parts to Iranian end-users.[2] According to OFAC, GQ’s shipments were made via third-party intermediaries, located in the United Arab Emirates and China, with the knowledge that the products were ultimately destined for Iran.[3]  Under U.S. law, non-U.S. companies owned or controlled by U.S. companies are required to adhere to Iran sanctions as if they were U.S. persons.  The settlement,  along with the Kollmorgen Corporation (“Kollmorgen”) settlement in February 2019, signals the Trump Administration’s willingness to hold U.S. parent companies liable for their subsidiaries’ Iran sanctions violations, which is an area that, prior to this year, had seen little enforcement activity to date. Continue reading

The Enforcement of Financial Market Crimes: A Comparative Case Study of Canada and the United Kingdom

by Anita Indira Anand

Strong enforcement of the law governing financial markets improves investment, reduces information asymmetries among corporations and investors, and prevents adverse selection. It has proven to be a deterrent, signaling to potential wrongdoers that criminal activity has serious consequences. It can also provide victims of crime with compensation for their losses. Despite these benefits, developed market economies struggle to develop comprehensive systems which allow for the successful prosecution of financial crimes. Indeed, the law of financial market crime is perhaps the most poorly-enforced branch of criminal law.

While there is no universally-accepted definition of “financial market crime,” the term typically refers to “any non-violent crime that generally results in a financial loss.”[1] In my comparative analysis of the enforcement of financial market crimes in Canada and the United Kingdom (UK), I argue that financial market crimes have low enforcement rates for a multiplicity of reasons common to both jurisdictions. To begin, financial market crimes have historically been relatively low priority for law enforcement officials who are required to devote increasing resources to violent crimes. In addition, and perhaps relatedly, law enforcement infrastructure lacks financial resources, which undermines the investigation and prosecution of financial market crime and fraud cases. Furthermore, technology, especially the prevalence of social media, has allowed new types of fraud to develop, with insufficient tools and financial resources to deal with them. Finally, past treatment of financial market criminals as pillars of the community who have merely had a fall from grace has weakened public perceptions of the harm caused by these crimes.

In both the UK and Canada, there is a lack of coordination among enforcement agencies when these crimes are investigated and prosecuted. While market regulation is more centralized in the UK, both countries rely on multiple agencies – and require those agencies to work together for the system to properly function. Theoretically, this integrated approach to financial market crime enforcement should work. Yet, in both countries, problems have arisen as regulators struggle to determine which agency (or agencies) should be responsible for tackling a specific financial crime, and handle issues of information sharing between national and local law enforcement teams. This lack of proper coordination has hampered officials in both countries as they attempt to prosecute and prevent financial market crime. In light of these issues, I propose three main reforms. Continue reading

CFTC Enters the Market for Anti-Corruption Enforcement

by Alice S. Fisher, Douglas K. Yatter, William R. Baker III, Douglas N. Greenburg, Robyn J. Greenberg, and Benjamin A. Dozier

New enforcement advisory encourages reporting of foreign corrupt practices that the agency intends to pursue under the Commodity Exchange Act.

On March 6, 2019, the Division of Enforcement (Division) of the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC or Commission) announced that it will work alongside the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to investigate foreign bribery and corruption relating to commodities markets.[1] CFTC Enforcement Director James McDonald announced the agency’s new interest in this area as the Division issued an enforcement advisory on self-reporting and cooperation for violations of the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA) involving foreign corrupt practices.[2]

For companies and individuals who participate in the markets for commodities and derivatives — or whose activities may impact those markets — the CFTC announcement adds a new dimension to an already crowded and complex landscape for anti-corruption enforcement. A range of industries, including energy, agriculture, metals, financial services, cryptocurrencies, and beyond, must now consider the CFTC and the CEA when assessing global compliance and enforcement risks relating to bribery and corruption. This article summarizes the new developments and outlines key considerations for industry participants and their legal and compliance teams. Continue reading

Canadian Corporate Criminal Liability

by Lincoln Caylor and Nathan Shaheen

Introduction

In Canada, corporate criminal liability is increasingly becoming an area of focus for regulators, law enforcement officers, and the public. As stories of corporate wrongdoing have generated media and public interest, key stakeholders have been trying to develop various tools and mechanisms to properly apportion fault and determine liability in often complex and highly public scandals. One merely has to read about the SNC-Lavalin matter that has generated controversy and the calls for a public inquiry in the highest echelons of the Canadian executive branch to understand the importance of carefully managing corporate criminal liability. This blog posts reviews Canadian corporate criminal liability, setting out some new developments in the law and highlighting key areas of concern for corporations undertaking either an internal investigation or being investigated by a regulator.

Overview Of Canadian Corporate Liability Doctrine

In Canada, corporate criminal liability is narrow in scope. Unlike in the United States, Canada does not apportion criminal liability under the doctrine of respondeat superior. Rather, corporate liability is generally apportioned to the employees or individuals involved in the wrongdoing, instead of the actual corporations themselves.[1]

Unlike American precedent, Canadian jurisprudence has historically upheld the ‘identification doctrine’, an organizing principle of corporate liability wherein an “identity” is established “between the directing mind and the corporation, which results in the corporation being found guilty for the act or the natural person, the employee”.[2] The identification doctrine will only be used in narrow circumstances to hold the corporation accountable. It will not be engaged if the employee/individual who committed the alleged acts is not a ‘directing mind’ of the corporation, or if there was fraud on the corporation. Additionally, judges retain the residual right to not apply the doctrine depending on the circumstances of the case. Continue reading

Financial Institutions Alert: Marijuana-Related Businesses Developments in the Marijuana Industry and the Implications for Financial Institutions

By Sharon Cohen Levin, John F. Walsh, Paul M. Architzel, Franca Harris Gutierrez, Matthew T. Martens, Michelle Nicole Diamond, Emma Bennett, and Zachary Goldman

The myriad—and conflicting—state, federal and international laws governing the burgeoning marijuana industry have created a complicated legal landscape for financial institutions. In the United States, most states have legalized some form of marijuana use, but the manufacture, sale and distribution of marijuana nevertheless remains illegal under federal law. As a result, in providing financial products and services to US marijuana-related businesses (MRBs), a financial institution could risk violating the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), 21 U.S.C. § 841. Moreover, engaging in or facilitating transactions that contain proceeds from US marijuana sales could create liability under the money laundering laws.

Further complicating matters, Canada became the first major world economy to legalize recreational marijuana in October 2018. Because the US narcotics laws generally do not apply to activity that is legal abroad, providing financial products and services to Canadian MRBs would not violate the CSA or implicate the US money laundering laws. However, that is not the case in many European countries. The European Union recently passed a law expanding the extraterritorial scope of member countries’ money laundering laws with respect to certain narcotics-related offenses. These laws could now criminalize the transfer of funds from activity that is legal in the foreign country (e.g., marijuana sales in Canada) if that activity would be illegal in the home country.

Below we discuss the fragmented legal and regulatory landscape governing the marijuana industry as well as notable recent developments and their implications for global financial institutions. Continue reading

AML Information Sharing in a Technology-Enabled and Privacy-Conscious World

by Kevin Petrasic, Paul Saltzman, Jonah Anderson, Jeremy Kuester, John Wagner, Rebecca Copcutt, and John Timmons

Financial firms play an integral role in preventing, identifying, investigating and reporting criminal activity, including terrorist financing, money laundering, and many other finance-related crimes. It is a critical role that depends on financial firms having the information they need to identify and report potentially suspicious activity and provide other relevant information to law enforcement. However, there are significant barriers to information sharing throughout the US anti-money laundering (“AML”) regime. These barriers limit the effectiveness of AML information sharing within a financial institution, among financial institutions, and between financial institutions and law enforcement.

Much has changed in the 17 years following the passage of the USA PATRIOT Act (“Patriot Act”), which, among other things, sought to enable greater information sharing among law enforcement, regulators and financial institutions regarding AML risks. Of note, Section 314(a) of the Patriot Act and its implementing regulations (“Section 314(a)”) enables federal, state, local and European Union law enforcement agencies to reach out to US financial institutions through the US Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) to locate accounts and transactions of persons that may be involved in terrorism or money laundering. Section 314(b) of the Patriot Act and its implementing regulations (“Section 314(b)”) provides a limited safe harbor for financial institutions to share information with one another in order to better identify and report potential money laundering or terrorist activities. Continue reading

Trends in U.S. Sanctions Enforcement During the Trump Administration

by Dr. Bryan R. Early and Keith A. Preble

U.S. Economic Sanctions Policy

Economic sanctions are coercive foreign policy tools that work by disrupting otherwise profitable commerce between the governments imposing them and their targets. In order to be effective, governments imposing sanctions must obtain the compliance of their constituents, or the sanctions will not harm their targets as intended. Complying with sanctions is costly for companies not only in terms of the commerce they disrupt, but also with respect to the investments required to prevent unintentional violations. Thus, as policy tools, economic sanctions inherently create costly compliance obligations for companies. Given that employing sanctions appears to run counter to U.S. President Donald Trump’s goal of reducing regulatory burdens on U.S. firms, it is surprising that he has heavily relied upon threatening and imposing sanctions as part of his administration’s foreign policy.

Two years into the Trump Administration, we can begin to see evidence of how this tension in President Trump’s policy preferences has affected the implementation of U.S. sanctions. Despite the fiery rhetoric directed at the targets of U.S. sanctions, our research indicates that the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) has adopted a softer stance on sanctions enforcement during the Trump Administration than during his predecessors’ administrations. The major area in which OFAC’s recent enforcement policies have been more stringent is in punishing foreign sanctions violators. This suggests that OFAC has resolved the tension between reducing regulatory burdens on U.S. firms and President Trump’s sanctions preferences by focusing more of its attention on punishing foreign firms instead of American ones for violating sanctions. Continue reading

Court Upholds SEC Authority and Finds Broker-Dealer Liable for Thousands of Suspicious Activity Reporting Violations

by H. Christopher Boehning, Jessica S. Carey, Michael E. Gertzman, Roberto J. Gonzalez, David S. HuntingtonBrad S. Karp, Raphael M. Russo, Richard S. Elliott, Rachel M. Fiorill, Karen R. King, Anand Sithian, and Katherine S. Stewart

Decision Provides Rare Judicial Guidance on SAR Filing Requirements

On December 11, 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) obtained a victory in its enforcement action against Alpine Securities Corporation, a broker that cleared transactions for microcap securities that were allegedly used in manipulative schemes to harm investors.[1] Judge Cote of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York issued a 100-page opinion partially granting the SEC’s motion for summary judgment and finding Alpine liable for thousands of violations of its obligation to file Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs).[2]

Because most SAR-related enforcement actions are resolved without litigation, this decision is a rare instance of a court’s detailed examination of SAR filing requirements.  The decision began by rejecting—for a second time[3]—Alpine’s argument that the SEC lacks authority to pursue SAR violations.  The court then engaged in a number of line-drawing exercises, finding that various pieces of information, as a matter of law, triggered Alpine’s SAR filing obligations and should have been included in the SAR narratives.  This mode of analysis, which applies the SAR rules under the traditional summary judgment standard, may appear to contrast with regulatory guidance recognizing that SARs involve subjective, discretionary judgments.[4]

Although the decision has particular relevance in the microcap context, all broker-dealers—and potentially other entities subject to SAR filing requirements—may wish to review the court’s reasoning for insight on a number of SAR issues, including the adequacy of SAR narratives and the inclusion of “red flag” information. Among other cautions, the decision illustrates the dangers of relying on SAR “template narratives”[5] that lack adequate detail.

More broadly, the SEC’s action against Alpine is another indicator of heightened federal interest in ensuring broker-dealer compliance with Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) requirements. For example, last month the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York brought the first-ever criminal BSA charge against a broker-dealer, noting that this charge “makes clear that all actors governed by the Bank Secrecy Act—not only banks—must uphold their obligations.”[6] Continue reading