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  • FCC Enforcement Chief Touts Global Anti-Robocall Push

    Federal Issues

    In an official FCC blog post published November 21, FCC Enforcement Chief Travis LeBlanc re-emphasized the agency’s efforts to work with international law enforcement partners to target fraudsters who might otherwise be outside the FCC’s reach. As explained by Mr. LeBlanc:

    “Unsolicited calls and text messages are more than just a nuisance these days. They are used to perpetrate criminal fraud, phishing attacks, and identity theft schemes all around the world. These calls often overwhelm facilities, including emergency or 911 call centers. Those responsible for sending unwanted calls and texts often operate from outside of the United States, too often allowing them to evade our enforcement. Indeed, it is very easy for these scammers to operate from multiple countries, hide their locations, change their phone numbers between calls, trick caller ID systems into displaying false or trusted numbers, increasingly demand payments in hard-to-trace forms such as cash or gift cards, and move quickly to avoid detection and prosecution in our increasingly mobile world.”

    Earlier this year, the FCC signed a memorandum of understanding with members of the “Unsolicited Communications Enforcement Network,” a global network of law enforcement authorities and regulatory agencies that have agreed to share intelligence, identify common threats, learn from each other’s best practices and assist each other with investigations where permissible to combat unsolicited communications.

    Federal Issues Criminal Enforcement FCC Enforcement Telemarketing Sales Rule

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  • Trump Nominates Jeff Sessions to be Next Attorney General

    Federal Issues

    On November 18, President-elect Donald Trump announced that he has chosen Sen. Jefferson Sessions (R-Ala.), to become the next U.S. Attorney General. Sessions served as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama for 12 years and was the state's attorney general for two years. Trump also announced his intent to nominate U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) as Director of the CIA and Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs.

    Federal Issues Criminal Enforcement DOJ Enforcement Trump President-Elect

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  • Former Oil Company Employee Admits to Paying Bribe for Libyan Government Contract

    Federal Issues

    As a follow up to its March 2016 reporting involving a Monaco oil company’s bribery scandal, the Huffington Post recently published an interview with a former employee of the Monaco-based company who has admitted to paying bribes to a manager in Libya’s state-owned oil company in order to win a government contract. The individual, a former manager at the Monaco-based company, told the Huffington Post and the Australian newspaper, The Age,that in the summer of 2009 he was summoned to a meeting with a production manager from a subsidiary company of the Libyan National Oil Company. At the meeting, the Libyan company's production manager provided the individual with details relating to an upcoming bid for a $45 million Libyan government contract. Huffington Post reports that the individual contacted the father and two sons who ran the Monaco-based oil company. That afternoon, another manager from the Monaco-based company met with the individual at a company staffhouse, to deliver an envelope full of cash, which the individual delivered to the manager of the Libyan subsidiary company. A few days later, the individual who had delivered the cash resigned. It is unclear whether the Monaco-based company ever won the contract though the manager told the individual that “he expected a 5-10 percent kickback ― about $2-4 million ― if the [Monaco-based company] won the contract.” According to the interview, the individual who resigned has recently been cooperating with U.S., U.K., Australian, and Canadian law enforcement authorities. The individual’s former employer has denied his allegations and denies paying bribes to foreign officials in order to win deals for its multinational clients. For further coverage of this story, visit FCPA Scorecard Blog.

    Federal Issues Criminal Enforcement FCPA International Bribery

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  • Sports Marketing Executive Pleads Guilty in FIFA Investigation

    Federal Issues

    On October 20, the DOJ announced that a former president of a soccer event management company pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy charges. His guilty plea came in response to allegations that, as the company’s former president, he negotiated and made bribe payments totaling more than $14 million on behalf of the company to a high ranking soccer official in exchange for media and marketing rights to international soccer tournaments and matches. As part of the plea, the company's former president agreed to forfeit approximately half a million dollars and could be sentenced to a maximum of 20 years for each count.

    The guilty plea came as part of the U.S. government’s investigation into corruption in international soccer. It follows guilty pleas from the soccer event management company itself, its international parent company, and the parent company’s owner, in connection with related charges brought by the DOJ.

    Previous FCPA Scorecard coverage of the FIFA investigation can be found here.

    Federal Issues Criminal Enforcement FCPA International DOJ

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  • New York Hedge Fund Enters Into Fourth-Largest FCPA Enforcement Action of All Time

    Federal Issues

    On September 29, a New York-based publicly-traded hedge fund agreed to pay approximately $412 million to the DOJ and SEC to resolve related criminal and civil charges of violating the FCPA in connection with the bribery of high-level government officials across Africa. This is the fourth-largest FCPA enforcement settlement of all time, and the first time a hedge fund has been held accountable for violating the FCPA. In the criminal case, the hedge fund entered into a three-year deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) to resolve charges of conspiracy to violate the FCPA, falsification of books and records, and failure to implement adequate internal controls. The hedge fund agreed to pay a criminal penalty of approximately $213 million, and to retain a compliance monitor for three years. The DPA’s Statement of Facts describes bribes paid to government officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Congo) and Libya to help the hedge fund obtain special access and preferential prices for investment opportunities in government controlled-mining sectors in Congo, and secure an investment from the Libyan Investment Authority, Libya’s sovereign wealth fund. In parallel proceedings, the hedge fund agreed to pay $199 million to the SEC and entered into an Administrative Order Instituting Cease-and-Desist Proceedings to settle the FCPA civil charges. The SEC’s allegations covered Libya, Chad, Niger, and the Congo, and alleged that the fund used intermediaries, agents, and business partners to corruptly influence foreign officials. The Order found that the hedge fund executives ignored red flags and corruption risks and permitted the corrupt transactions to proceed. Both the fund’s CEO and CFO agreed to settle related allegations, without admitting or denying the findings. The CEO agreed to pay nearly $2.2 million to the SEC in the settlement, and a penalty will be assessed against the CFO at a future date.

    Federal Issues Criminal Enforcement FCPA International DOJ

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  • Deputy Attorney General Yates Expands on Individual Accountability Policy

    Financial Crimes

    On May 10, Deputy U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates spoke at the New York City Bar Association’s White Collar Crime Conference and expanded on the DOJ’s Individual Accountability Policy, which informally bears Yates’ name (the Yates Memo). The DOJ issued the Yates Memo in September 2015, and Yates’ remarks were focused on why the DOJ issued the policy and how it has been working in practice. Yates made clear that “holding individuals accountable for corporate wrongdoing has always been a priority for” the DOJ, but that the policy memorandum was necessary to overcome “real world challenges” that the DOJ encounters (e.g., convoluted corporate structures and lines of authority, data privacy laws, and inability to compel foreign witness testimony) so that it can hold individuals responsible for corporate wrongdoing.

    In practice, Yates said that the policy has not caused the parade of horrors that defense attorneys and client alerts have predicted. For example, she stated that she was not aware of any company refusing to cooperate with the DOJ as a result of the policy. She further added that “no one has told us that they will be forced to waive privilege in order to comply with the policy.” Instead, she said that the policy already has caused a shift toward higher compliance standards within companies.

    Yates also highlighted how DOJ attorneys are focused on individuals from the outset of an investigation: “[t]he first thing the lawyers briefing me discuss is what we are doing to identify the individuals involved and what the company is doing during the course of its cooperation to meet its obligation to provide all the facts about individual conduct.” In addition, civil enforcement efforts have broadened to focusing on individuals. According to Yates, “[a]bility to pay is one of the factors considered, but it’s no longer the determinative factor in deciding whether to bring an action in the first instance.

    DOJ

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  • District Court Denies Motion to Dismiss, Rules Compliance Officers Responsible for AML Program Failures

    Financial Crimes

    On January 8, the U.S. District Court of Minnesota ruled that individual officers of financial institutions may be held responsible for ensuring compliance with anti-money laundering laws under the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA). U.S. Dep’t of Treasury v. Haider, No. 15-cv-01518, WL 107940 (Dist. Ct. Minn. Jan. 8, 2016). In May 2015, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s December 2014 complaint against him. The Treasury’s complaint alleged that the defendant failed in his responsibility as the Chief Compliance Officer for an international money transfer company to ensure that “the Company implemented and maintained an effective AML program and complied with its SAR-filing obligations.” The complaint sought a $1 million judgment against the defendant and enjoined him from working for, either directly or indirectly, any “financial institution” as defined in the BSA. In his motion to dismiss, the defendant contended that the Treasury’s complaint should be dismissed because, among other reasons, 31 U.S.C. § 5318(a) permits the imposition of a penalty for AML program failures against an entity, not an individual. However, the District Court of Minnesota dismissed the motion, ruling that the BSA’s more general civil penalty provision, § 5321(a)(1), could subject a partner, director, officer, or employee of a domestic financial institution to civil penalties for violations “of any provision of the BSA or its regulations, excluding the specifically excepted provisions.” Judge David Doty further opined, “Because § 5318(h) is not listed as one of those exceptions, the plain language of the statute provides that a civil penalty may be imposed on corporate officers and employees like [the defendant], who was responsible for designing and overseeing [the company's] AML program.” The defendant also challenged the Treasury’s complaint on the bases that (i) the request for injunctive relief was time barred by the applicable statute of limitations; (ii) FinCEN should not have been permitted to receive and publicly use grand jury information; and (iii) FinCEN violated his due process rights. For various reasons, the District Court declined to decide on such issues or to dismiss materials based on the arguments presented.

    Financial Crimes Anti-Money Laundering Bank Secrecy Act Courts FinCEN

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  • DOJ Announces Racketeering Indictment Alleging Money Laundering Schemes

    Financial Crimes

    On December 10, the DOJ announced three unsealed indictments of a total of 20 defendants in connection with various money laundering schemes. Fifteen of the defendants were arrested and taken into custody, while the remaining individuals are still being sought by authorities.

    The first indictment alleges that the former president and CEO of an Orange County, California bank and five other individuals, as members of a narcotics trafficking and international money laundering organization, violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) by participating in schemes to launder drug proceeds. According to the DOJ, the former bank official used his position, insider knowledge, and connections to “promote and facilitate money laundering transactions involving members and associates of the enterprise.” The DOJ alleges that the six defendants (i) arranged to convert purported drug proceeds, in the form of cash provided by an undercover informant, into cashier’s checks made out to a company the informant claimed to own; (ii) proposed to an informant that the informant and his boss purchase a controlling interest in the Orange County bank to more easily facilitate money laundering operations; and (iii) proposed to set up a foundation in Liechtenstein to be used, in part, to launder the informant’s drug sale proceeds. The DOJ also asserts that the bank official introduced the five other defendants to operatives of a drug cartel aspiring to launder millions of dollars monthly and discussed plans to purchase the bank with the drug cartel operatives. In addition to the RICO count, the indictment charges a total of 16 defendants with 27 additional counts, including conspiracy, money laundering, structuring transactions to avoid federal reporting requirements, and evidence tampering.

    The two additional unsealed indictments charge a total of four defendants with conspiring to launder money they believed to be proceeds from narcotics trafficking.

    Anti-Corruption DOJ RICO

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  • Deputy Attorney General Yates Expands on DOJ's White-Collar Prosecution Policy

    Financial Crimes

    On November 16, the DOJ’s Deputy AG Sally Yates delivered remarks at the American Bankers Association and American Bar Association Money Laundering Enforcement Conference. Yates focused her remarks on recent revisions – originally outlined in a September 9 policy memorandum – to the United States Attorney’s Manual (USAM), as follows: (i) updating the corporate criminal cases section, specifically the “Principles of Federal Prosecution of Business Organizations” chapter, or the “Filip factors”; (ii) implementing an entirely new section to the civil cases chapter on enforcing claims against individuals in corporate matters; and (iii) updating its policy on parallel proceedings. First, the DOJ updated the Filip factors and the written guidance accompanying the factors to emphasize individual accountability in corporate cases and company cooperation in the DOJ’s investigation of individual wrongdoing. Yates highlighted the following policy change: “In the past, cooperation credit was a sliding scale of sorts and companies could still receive at least some credit for cooperation, even if they failed to fully disclose all facts about individuals. That’s changed now… providing complete information about individuals’ involvement in wrongdoing is a threshold hurdle that must be crossed before [the DOJ will] consider any cooperation credit.” Yates further noted that the new policy does not change the meaning of attorney-client privilege, but requires companies to turn over all relevant non-privileged information with the expectation that the companies respect the boundaries of attorney-client privilege. The USAM’s new chapter on civil cases mimics the individual accountability policies outlined in the Filip factors revisions, with the DOJ instructing its civil attorneys to abide by the same principles that guide criminal prosecutors’ efforts. Finally, revisions to the USAM’s parallel proceedings policy stress the importance of routine communication between criminal prosecutors and civil attorneys handling white collar matters to ensure a “resolution for both the individual and the corporation that is in the best interest of the public.”

    DOJ Enforcement Financial Crimes

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  • Former Vice President of Defense Contractor Jailed for Bribing Kuwaiti Officials

    Financial Crimes

    On October 9, James Rama, a former Vice President of Florida-based defense contractor IAP Worldwide Services, Inc., was sentenced in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to 120 days in prison for conspiracy to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA. Rama pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge on June 16 for his role in a scheme by IAP to pay more than $1.7 million in bribes to Kuwaiti officials to win a government contract intended to provide nationwide surveillance capabilities for several Kuwaiti government agencies. Rama had faced a recommended sentence under the Sentencing Guidelines of between 57 and 60 months, but received a substantially shorter sentence in part due to his cooperation with authorities during their investigation. Prosecutors had recommended that Rama receive a one year sentence, while the defense had requested just supervised release. IAP previously entered into a non-prosecution agreement with the DOJ and agreed to pay $7.1 million to resolve the allegations against the company.

    FCPA DOJ

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