Foreign Corrupt Practices Act In 2019

Posted On Monday, February 4, 2019
By: John A. Schwab

As we enter 2019, the government’s enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) shows no signs of slowing down. The U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission have joint responsibility to enforce the FCPA. DOJ’s FCPA enforcement is handled through the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. The SEC’s Enforcement Division has a specialized unit focusing on FCPA enforcement. Helpful resources on this topic include the DOJ’s Corporate Enforcement Policy found here and the SEC’s Resource Guide found here.

FCPA enforcement can take a variety of forms.  As highlighted below, violations of the FCPA’s “books and records” provisions are often handled short of criminal charges, but FCPA bribery allegations are often handled via criminal charges. Here are a few of the governments resolutions in late 2018:

  • On November 27, 2018, Alejandero Andrade Cedeno, a Florida resident and former national treasurer of Venezuela, was sentenced to 10 years in prison based on his role in a billion dollar currency exchange and money laundering scheme. Andrade admitted to receiving over $1 billion in bribes in exchange for using his position as national treasurer of Venezuela to conduct currency exchange transactions at favorable rates for the Venezuelan government. He received cash, private jets, yachts, cars, and homes from the alleged co-conspirators. He agreed, through the plea agreement, to a forfeiture of a money judgment of $1 billion and all assets tied to the scheme. The case is being prosecuted in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
  • On October 30, 2018, Roger R. Boncy was charged in a superseding indictment for alleged participation in a scheme to bribe government officials in Haiti connected to a $84 million port development project and laundering of the associated funds. Boncy is a Spain resident with dual United States and Haiti citizenship. The indictment alleges that Bonci and an alleged co-conspirator, Joseph Baptiste, solicited bribes from undercover agents posing as potential investors in connection with the proposed port project. The undercover agents recorded a meeting at a Massachusetts hotel during which Boncy and Baptiste allegedly told agents they would funnel payments to Haitian officials through a non-profit entity controlled by Baptiste purporting to help impoverished residents of Haiti. The agents also intercepted telephone calls during which Boncy and Baptiste allegedly discussed bribing an aide to a Haitian official with a job on the port project in exchange for the aide’s help in obtaining authorization for the project. The case is being prosecuted in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.
  • On September 27, 2018, DOJ announced non-prosecution agreements between United States and Brazilian authorities and Petroleo Brasilerio S.A. – Petrobas (Petrobas), a Brazilian state-owned energy company related to alleged violations of the FCPA for alleged “facilitating payments” to Brazilian politicians and political parties. DOJ alleged that high ranking members of Petrobas, including members of its Executive Board and Board of Directors, facilitated hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes and then “cooked the books” to conceal the bribe payments. Through the non-prosecution agreement with the U.S., Petrobas agreed to pay a criminal penalty of $853.2 million, a 25% discount off the low end of the applicable sentencing guidelines fine range based on the company’s full cooperation and remediation.

With results such as these, the government undoubtedly views its return on investment of time and resources as positive. Knowledgeable and experienced counsel is critical in defending against such actions – not only for corporate entities, but for individuals as well.

The attorneys of Pietragallo’s White Collar Criminal Defense practice are experienced in every aspect of an investigation and white collar criminal case. We routinely conduct corporate investigations and develop strategies and solutions to avoid or minimize the risk of criminal charges. We monitor and shadow government investigations and defend against all types of grand jury investigations. We represent corporations, executives, and individuals before state and federal grand juries and a myriad of federal and state regulatory agencies. At all times, we focus on the collateral consequences of a criminal indictment or conviction: debarment, civil liability, exclusion or suspension from federal and state programs, and revocation of professional licenses. When necessary, we possess the experience to defend vigorously our clients at trial, sentencing and appeal. Our results are unparalleled.

If you need assistance, please do hesitate to contact a member of our Team or the author of this post, John Schwab. With over two decades of experience, Mr. Schwab is ready to assist you with your matter.