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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.
A Brazilian aircraft manufacturer, will pay more than $205 million to the SEC and the DOJ to resolve alleged FCPA violations stemming from payments made through its third-party agents to officials in the Dominican Republic, Saudi Arabia, and Mozambique that allegedly resulted in more than $83 million in profits for the company. Pursuant to a Deferred Prosecution Agreement with DOJ, the Brazilian company must pay a penalty of more than $107 million and must retain an independent corporate compliance monitor for three years. The company will also pay more than $98 million in disgorgement and interest to the SEC, but it may receive a credit of up to a $20 million depending on the amount of disgorgement it pays in a parallel civil proceeding in Brazil. Additional FCPA Scorecard coverage of the company's investigation can be found here, here, and here.
A Swedish telecommunications company disclosed in its Third Quarter Interim Report that it has set aside $1.45 billion to settle investigations conducted by Dutch and U.S. authorities regarding alleged bribery in Uzbekistan. The company disclosed that the authorities have proposed a global resolution that includes a financial sanction of $1.45 billion, although the company noted that further discussion and negotiation is necessary; the timing and amount of payment is uncertain at this time.
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.
OFAC took an additional step toward further implementation of President Obama’s new policy direction toward Cuba on October 17, with the publication of a final rule amending the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, 31 CFR Part 515 (CACR). Of those most relevant to financial institutions, OFAC updated the CACR by, among other things, amending paragraphs (c) and (f) of section 515.584, which relates to certain financial transactions involving Cuba. Section 515.584(c), as outlined in OFAC’s set of updated FAQs, “authorizes all transactions incident to the processing and payment of credit and debit card transactions for third-country nationals traveling to, from, or within Cuba.” FAQ number 49 further explains that “[a]ny person subject to U.S. jurisdiction, including U.S. financial institutions and their foreign branches, may conduct transactions authorized by [section 515.584(c)].” Section 515.584(f), as explained by FAQ 73, permits: Any banking institution …that is a person subject to U.S. jurisdiction is authorized to provide financing for exports or reexports of items, other than agricultural commodities, authorized pursuant to § 515.533, including issuing, advising, negotiating, paying, or confirming letters of credit (including letters of credit issued by a financial institution that is a national of Cuba), accepting collateral for issuing or confirming letters of credit, and processing documentary collections. OFAC’s amendments to the CACR are effective immediately.
On October 18, OFAC granted General License No. 2B renewing the authorization regarding nine Belarusian entities to enter into transactions otherwise prohibited by Executive Order 13405. General License No. 2B replaces and supersedes in its entirety General License No. 2A, which was set to expire later this month, and authorizes transactions with any entities that are owned 50 percent or more by the nine named entities. All property and interests in property of these entities, if blocked, remain blocked. U.S. persons must report authorized transactions or any series of transactions exceeding $50,000 to the U.S. Department of State no later than 30 days after execution. The authorization expires on April 30, 2017, unless otherwise extended or revoked.
OFAC Publishes Fact Sheet and FAQ Related to Termination of Burma Sanctions Program; Updates SDN List
On October 7, OFAC published a Fact Sheet and Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) number 481 regarding the implementation of the President’s Executive Order entitled “Termination of Emergency with Respect to the Actions and Policies of the Government of Burma.” OFAC’s fact sheet explains that all OFAC-administered restrictions and authorizations under the Burma sanctions program pertaining to banking with Burma, including 2012 and 2013 OFAC general licenses that authorized certain correspondent account activity with Burmese banks, are terminated pursuant to the Executive Order. FAQ 481 clarifies that “[p]ending OFAC enforcement matters will proceed irrespective of the termination of OFAC-administered sanctions on Burma, and OFAC will continue to review apparent violations of the [Burmese Sanctions Regulations], whether [such violations] came to the agency’s attention before or after the Burma sanctions program was terminated.” In connection with terminating the Burma-related sanctions program, OFAC made several deletions to its SDN List.
On October 7, OFAC updated its Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) relating to the Listing of Certain U.S. Sanctions under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). In addition to adding three FAQs related to due diligence (see M.10 through M.12), OFAC amended two FAQs (C.7 and C.15) regarding Financial and Banking Measures and one FAQ (K.19) related to Foreign Entities Owned or Controlled by U.S. Persons. FAQ M.10 clarifies that while “[i]t is not necessarily sanctionable for a non-U.S. person to engage in transactions with an entity that is not on the SDN List but that is minority owned, or that is controlled in whole or in part, by an Iranian or Iran-related person on the SDN List,” it is recommended that persons engaging in such transactions exercise caution to ensure that they do not involve Iranian or Iran-related persons on the SDN List. FAQs M.11 and M.12, respectively, address (i) due diligence expectations related to the screening of potential Iranian counterparties; and (ii) the circumstances under which OFAC expects a non-U.S. financial institution to repeat the due diligence their customers have already performed on an Iranian customer.
On October 11, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced that the Group of Seven (G-7) countries – comprised of the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom – issued fundamental elements to “help address cyber risks facing the financial sector from both entity-specific and system-wide perspectives.” In Fundamental Elements of Cybersecurity for the Financial Sector, G-7 outlines eight elements for private and public entities within the financial sector to use as “building blocks” for confronting cyber-related issues, the first of which is to establish and implement tailored cybersecurity strategies and operational frameworks that should be tailored to an entity’s nature, size, complexity, risk profile, and culture. G-7’s remaining seven elements are as follows: (i) define and facilitate effective governance structures to ensure accountability; (ii) identify cyber risks and implement control assessments, including systems, policies, procedures, and training; (iii) “establish systematic monitoring processes to rapidly detect cyber incidents and periodically evaluate the effectiveness of identified controls, including through network monitoring, testing, audits, and exercises”; (iv) ensure that incident response policies are effective and guarantee timeliness; (v) establish and test contingency plans that help to ensure effective recovery of critical functions and operations; (vi) share cybersecurity information with internal and external stakeholders, including threat indicators, vulnerabilities, and incidents; and (vii) develop a review process that addresses, among other things, evolving cyber risks. In support of the G-7 elements, Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer stated that they are “a crucial step in furthering hardening each link in the chain of our global financial system.”
On October 5, the OCC issued Bulletin 2016-32 to provide highly anticipated guidance regarding “de-risking” in foreign correspondent banking relationships. Last week, Comptroller Curry stated that the OCC intended to issue guidance that would reiterate the agency’s “risk management expectations for banks to establish and follow policies and procedures for regularly conducting risk evaluations of their foreign correspondent portfolios.” The guidance outlines “best practices” for banks to use when “conducting periodic reevaluations of the risks related to foreign correspondent accounts and making account retention or termination decisions.” As expected and as previously summarized in BuckleySandler’s Special Alert, these best practices include, but are not limited to, (i) establishing effective governance for overseeing how banks reevaluate risk and monitor recommendations for retaining or terminating foreign correspondent accounts; (ii) communicating regularly to senior management about decisions to retain or terminate foreign correspondent accounts, giving consideration to any adverse impact that closures may have on access to financial services for an entire group of customers or an entire region; (iii) establishing lines of communication with foreign correspondent customers in the context of determining whether to withdraw from a relationship; (iv) considering specific information these customers may provide that may mitigate risks they present; (v) when decisions are made to terminate accounts, providing sufficient time for customers to establish alternative banking relationships, unless any delay would create additional risk; and (vi) maintaining clear audit trails documenting the reasons and methods used for considering account closure.
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss “How the new administration sets the tone for 2021” at the American Conference Institute Legal, Regulatory and Compliance Forum on Fintech & Emerging Payment Systems
- Sherry-Maria Safchuk to discuss UDAAP in consumer finance at an American Bar Association webinar
- Jeffrey P. Naimon to discuss "What to expect: The new administration and regulatory changes" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Legal Issues and Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss “The future of fair lending” at the Mortgage Bankers Association Legal Issues and Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Steven R. vonBerg to discuss "LO comp challenges" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Legal Issues and Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Michelle L. Rogers to discuss "Major litigation" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Legal Issues and Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Michelle L. Rogers to discuss “The False Claims Act today” at the Federal Bar Association Qui Tam Section Roundtable