On April 5, 2013, the Department of Justice (DOJ) unsealed charges against four former executives of BizJet International Sales and Support, Inc., the U.S.-based subsidiary of Lufthansa Technik, AG, a company that provides aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul services for alleged bribery payments in Latin America. This news comes less than 30 days since our last blog entry, that quoted the warning by Department of Justice, FCPA Assistant Chief James Koukios, who said that the DOJ has “a lot of cases in the hopper” pertaining to Latin America.What can we learn from the latest case unsealed by the DOJ?
On March 29, 2013, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced the settlement of what appeared to be a routine insider trading case involving two traders. For foreign traders, the case is a wake-up call that the SEC is watching and will take action against violators, wherever they are in the world. Moreover, the case reveals the SEC’s patience in finding the insider traders and their courage in taking action. Indeed, the case may also serve as an investigatory template for the SEC’s global policing of U.S. securities laws in connection with insider trading violations by foreign traders.
In a development which took some by surprise, on 9 October 2012, the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) issued new policies under the Bribery Act 2010, which could change the way some companies do business. The SFO is the UK independent government agency that investigates and prosecutes serious or complex fraud, as well as corruption. Its powers are similar in some respects to those of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and U.S. Department of Justice. The new policies are related to facilitation payments, business expenditure (hospitality) and corporate self-reporting. The announcement is meant to revise existing SFO pronouncements on the enforcement of the Bribery Act 2010, which took effect on 1 July 2011. Given the new Act’s tough penalties and the apparent ambiguity surrounding the consequences of self-disclosure, businesses may want to take extra care to comply with its provisions. Accordingly, businesses should consider seeking the advice of legal counsel in navigating this statute and its attendant revisions.
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Most companies fear the FCPA and the harm it will do to their companies. In a recent article published for the Asian-Mena Counsel, I offer a modest proposal – go on the offense with the FCPA and reap millions in potential increased enterprise value.
Here is the secret: if your company sees a potential exit strategy in the near future and you operate in certain regions of the world, you could command, and US suitors would be willing to pay, a premium for your company, into the millions, provided that you have meaningful a FCPA compliance regime. Make a strategic move to make your company FCPA compliant and reap the rewards.
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