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 →
Last week, in a much-anticipated decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit held in SEC v. Scoville et al. that Congress “clearly intended” Section 929P(b) of the Dodd-Frank Act to grant the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) authority to enforce the anti-fraud provisions of the federal securities laws abroad where there is sufficient conduct or effect in the United States. In affirming the lower court’s decision, the Tenth Circuit undertook a thorough analysis of the legislative history of Section 929P(b) and concluded that Congress “affirmatively and unmistakably” intended to grant extraterritorial authority to the SEC where either “significant steps” are taken in the U.S. to further a violation of the anti-fraud provisions, or conduct outside the U.S. has a “foreseeable substantial effect” within the U.S.
The Scoville decision thus provides judicial affirmation of the SEC’s ability to bring enforcement actions under what is essentially the same “conduct-and-effects” test that the Supreme Court rejected for private securities litigation in Morrison v. Nat’l Australia Bank Ltd., 561 U.S. 247 (2010). The Tenth Circuit’s decision, though not entirely unexpected, is significant in that it represents the first Circuit Court decision to directly address the SEC’s authority to enforce the federal securities laws extraterritorially after the Supreme Court’s rejection of the “conduct-and-effects” test in Morrison. 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 →