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On October 23, the anti-corruption group Transparency International released its annual progress report on the enforcement of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development ("OECD") anti-bribery convention. The 41 signatories of the 1997 Anti-Bribery Convention are, among other things, obligated to investigate credible allegations of corruption and, where appropriate, to prosecute those who offer, promise, or give bribes to foreign public officials and subject those parties to effective and dissuasive penalties. In its report, Transparency International found that only four of the 41 signatories to the convention are actively investigating and prosecuting companies that bribe foreign officials. Those four leading enforcers — Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States — completed or initiated 282 cases from 2010-2013. The other 37 signatories to the convention, who account for 77% of world exports, completed or initiated only 73 cases during the same time period. According to Transparency International, enforcement of corruption is low "because investigators lack political backing to go after big companies, especially where the considerations of national economic interest trump anti-corruption commitments." Furthermore, investigators often lack the resources to investigate complex corruption cases. Transparency Intentional found that Canada was the only country to show significant improvement since last year's report, having, among other things, significantly improved its foreign bribery law.
On September 19, according to media reports, a Chinese court ordered the Chinese subsidiary of GlaxoSmithKline, the UK-based pharmaceutical company, to pay approximately $487 million related to alleged bribery of hospitals and doctors. Five of Glaxo's managers were also convicted after entering guilty pleas, and Glaxo's former country manager was ordered to be deported. Glaxo apologized for the conduct in a statement. Glaxo's Chinese subsidiary was alleged to have bribed hospitals and their doctors to boost prescriptions of Glaxo products, including through payment of large travel and entertainment expenses and other fees, leading to over $150 million in additional revenue. The Glaxo case involves many of the key areas currently affecting anti-corruption practitioners and compliance personnel. For example, allegations were first raised by a whistleblower in 2013, and investigations regarding bribery of foreign state-owned hospitals or their doctors have been rising in the past few years. Here, while the full facts are not yet clear, Glaxo has stated that only commercial (business to business) bribery was at issue, characterizing the conduct at issue as "offer[ing] money or property to non-government personnel in order to obtain improper commercial gains, and . . . bribing non-government personnel."
According to a September 11 news report, two top executives of an Italian oil and gas company are being investigated by Italian prosecutors for alleged corruption related to the companys 2011 acquisition of 50% of a Nigerian deepwater offshore oil field block. The executives include both the companys CEO, and its Chief Development, Operations, and Technology Officer. The company denied that any illegal conduct had occurred and noted its cooperation with the Milan Prosecutors Office related to the matter. The new investigation appears unrelated to the companys previous $365 million FCPA and Nigeria settlement with the DOJ and SEC, regarding the TSKJ-Nigeria joint venture.
Houston-based Cobalt International Energy, Inc. said in an August 5, 2014 securities filing that it received a Wells Notice in connection with the Securities and Exchange Commission's investigation of its oil-exploration operations in Angola. The Company stated in its filing that due to the SEC's investigation and recommendation, it may be "exposed to liabilities under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act." Wells Notices indicate that the staff of the SEC has made a preliminary determination to recommend an enforcement action alleging violations of certain federal securities laws. According to Cobalt's 2013 10-K filing, the SEC first began an informal inquiry of the company in March 2011 which was later joined by the Department of Justice. In April 2012, as first reported by the Financial Times, allegations surfaced that three Angolan officials, including the head of the country's state-owned oil company and two military generals, held shares in Nazaki Oil and Gáz, the local partner in a Cobalt-led deepwater oil venture launched in early 2010. The government officials admitted owning shares in the joint venture but denied using their influence to award Cobalt oil-exploration rights in Angola. The company has previously "strongly refuted" allegations of wrongdoing and has said it was forced to enter into a joint venture with two Angolan-based oil exploration and production companies as part of its deal with the Angolan government.
Brian Bartholomay is an associate in the Washington, DC, office of Buckley Sandler LLP. Mr. Bartholomay assists clients in the financial services industry, primarily in litigation, regulatory and compliance matters. He provides litigation support and assists with large scale document reviews and productions related to complex litigation.
Mr. Bartholomay received his J.D. from Wake Forest University School of Law in 2006 and his B.A. from Davidson College in 2001.
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