Category Archives: Corruption: Foreign

The Financial Action Task Force Evaluation of Russia: An Opportunity

By Joshua Kirschenbaum and Jennifer DeNardis

Introduction     

Russia in recent years has been the most conspicuous source of illicit flows into European banks and the Western financial system. The Russian government weaponizes these opaque channels to export corruption, facilitate influence operations, and prop up the domestic patronage system. Despite a money laundering crackdown by the Central Bank of Russia (CBR), the country’s main financial supervisor, recent history poses serious questions about the effectiveness of the central bank, law enforcement agencies, and prosecutors in combating illicit financial activity.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) sets international anti-money laundering (AML) standards (PDF 6.37 MB)  and evaluates its member states for compliance. It was created in 1989 and is housed at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.  Russia joined in 2003. FATF last evaluated Russia over a decade ago under the old “technical compliance” review process, which largely focused on the country’s legal framework. FATF now evaluates (PDF 1.51 MB) jurisdictions on the basis of the effectiveness of their AML regimes. The new method focuses on enforcement and outcomes. That makes this year’s FATF evaluation of Russia a unique opportunity to protect democratic countries from corrosive financial flows.

Should FATF conclude that Russia falls short, it could “greylist” the jurisdiction, which would have immediate reputational effects. It could ultimately lead to a process by which other FATF members, would require their financial institutions to take special steps in dealing with Russian banks. This would raise the cost of international business and banking in Russia. Such a decision against an FATF member state would be unprecedented but not necessarily unjustified. Continue reading

The Slow Introduction of Pre-Trial Diversion Mechanisms in the Italian System of Corporate Liability

by Simone Lonati

The Common Law-inspired decision to enlist corporations as precious, proactive allies in the essential activities of detection and combat of crime, and particularly of bribery, has often been looked at with the typical skepticism of civil law systems, which – a long way from accepting the idea of equal cooperation in the fact-finding mission – require a neat distinction of roles in proceedings. Nonetheless, it is by now undeniable that the perception of corporate compliance in the Italian legal system has undergone a significant transformation in recent years.

The structure of Legislative Decree n. 231/2001, which established for the first time in the Italian legal system an administrative liability of legal persons and entities without legal personality for the crimes committed by employees and executives, outlines a correction model that views the conduct held by the accused legal entity during an investigation and the related criminal proceedings as one of the cornerstones triggering the virtuous path towards compliance monitoring, which should bring the entity back on the tracks of profitable compliance. Continue reading

French Anti-Corruption Authority Raises Alarm About M&A Transactions

by Antoine F. Kirry, Frederick T. Davis, and Alexandre Bisch

The French Anti-Corruption Authority (AFA) is zeroing in on corruption risks hidden in acquisition targets of French companies, in France and overseas.

In a statement reported yesterday, AFA representatives alerted would-be acquirers to the need to conduct in depth pre-acquisition anti-corruption due-diligences.  The AFA observed that most companies and investment bankers seem insufficiently aware of this need, and urged them not to underestimate the reputational damage that may result from potential corruption issues in target companies, in addition to potential sanctions. Continue reading

How are non-trial enforcement mechanisms facilitating the resolution of foreign bribery cases?

by Sandrine Hannedouche-Leric, Elisabeth Danon, and Brooks Hickman

A new Study on Resolving Foreign Bribery Cases with Non-Trial Resolutions builds a typology of non-trial resolutions available to the Parties to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention and takes stock of how these resolutions have been used to resolve foreign bribery cases in recent years.

The Study focuses on key legal, procedural and institutional challenges attached to the use of non-trial resolutions to conclude foreign bribery cases. It provides data demonstrating a clear trend to resolve these cases outside the court room. In particular, it shows that nearly 80% of foreign bribery cases concluded since the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention entered into force 20 years ago have been resolved with a non-trial enforcement vehicle. Relying on data and case examples, it analyses how these instruments have driven the enforcement of foreign bribery laws. In some countries, non-trial resolutions have provided the exclusive means for sanctioning legal persons, while other countries have used non-trial resolutions to impose sanctions in their first-ever foreign bribery resolutions. 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

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

The Future of Anti-Corruption Enforcement Involving Brazil and the United States

by Bruce E. Yannett, David. A. O’Neil, Andrew M. Levine, Kara Brockmeyer, and Daniel Aun

The beginning of the year allows us to look back at recent developments in the white collar front involving Brazil and the United States, and prompts us to consider what to expect going forward, especially in light of the election of President Jair Bolsonaro and the appointment of former judge Sergio Moro as Minister of Justice. 

Lava Jato, Carne Fraca, and Zelotes are among the Brazilian anti-corruption operations that have echoed in the United States over the last few years.  Intensified cooperation between authorities in the two countries has fueled countless investigations, settlements, convictions, and related civil litigation.  U.S. criminal enforcement also has reverberated in Brazil, with the FIFA prosecutions being perhaps the most headline-making example.  Continue reading

Is a European Anti-Corruption Prosecutor Needed?

by Jonathan J. Rusch

In a January 17 interview with the French news-magazine L’Obs, former French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve argued that a European anti-corruption prosecutor is needed “to restore a balance, to correct the asymmetry of the Euro-Atlantic relationship in the fight against corruption from which European companies are currently suffering.”

In the interview, Cazeneuve — now a partner with the August Debouzy law firm specializing in compliance issues – stated that “it cannot be ruled out that in a context of rising protectionism under the Trump Administration, ‘compliance’ rules are also used to protect the economic and industrial interests of certain powers.  Faced with such a reality, it would be very naive not to seek to protect our own interests!”  At the same time, Cazeneuve said that “in a global economy, corruption is a long-term factor that impoverishes companies and distorts competition. Only the law can regulate what needs to be and create the conditions for a global level playing field. Preventing corruption in French companies is still the best way to protect them from the often intrusive procedures of U.S. prosecuting authorities.” Continue reading

New Supervisory Rating System for Large Banking Organizations

by Sullivan & Cromwell LLP

Federal Reserve Establishes a New Rating System for the Supervision of Large Financial Institutions

Summary

On November 2, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (the “FRB”) issued a final rule (the “Final Rule”) that establishes a new rating system for the supervision of large financial institutions (“LFIs”). The LFI rating system applies to all bank holding companies with total consolidated assets of $100 billion or more; all non-insurance, non-commercial savings and loan holding companies with total consolidated assets of $100 billion or more; and all U.S. intermediate holding companies of foreign banking organizations with total consolidated assets of $50 billion or more.[1] The LFI rating system is designed to align with the FRB’s existing supervisory program for LFIs,[2] enhance the clarity and consistency of supervisory assessments, and provide greater transparency regarding the consequences of a given rating. For LFIs, the new rating system replaces the RFI/C(D) rating system currently used by the FRB for holding companies of all sizes.[3] Continue reading

DOJ Extends FCPA Corporate Enforcement Policy Principles to Non-FCPA Misconduct Discovered in the M&A Context

by John F. Savarese, Ralph M. Levene, David B. Anders, Marshall L. Miller, and Daniel H. Rosenblum

In an important speech, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Matthew Miner of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division announced on Thursday that DOJ will “look to” the principles of the FCPA Corporate Enforcement Policy (PDF: 50.6 KB) in evaluating “other types of potential wrongdoing, not just FCPA violations” that are uncovered in connection with mergers and acquisitions.  As a result, when an acquiring company identifies misconduct through pre-transaction due diligence or post-transaction integration, and then self-reports the relevant conduct, DOJ is now more likely to decline to prosecute if the company fully cooperates, remediates in a complete and timely fashion, and disgorges any ill-gotten gains. Continue reading