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  • Historic Penalties For Cryptocurrency Exchange’s AML-Related Violations
     
    12/13/2023

    On November 21, 2023, the Cayman Islands registered cryptocurrency exchange, Binance Holdings Limited (the “Company”), pled guilty to criminal violations related to allegedly failing to register as a money transmitting business (“MTB”), failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program, and violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (“IEEPA”).  In connection with its plea agreement with the Department of Justice, the Company agreed to pay $4.3 billion in penalty, including $1.8 billion as a criminal fine and $2.5 billion in disgorgement.  The Company’s founder also pled guilty to similar AML violations and agreed to resign as the Company’s Chief Executive Officer.
  • DOJ Announces Safe Harbor For Companies That Self-Disclose Misconduct Discovered During M&A
     
    10/10/2023

    On October 4, 2023, Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco announced a Department of Justice-wide safe harbor policy for voluntary self-disclosures made in connection with mergers and acquisitions.  During her remarks at the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics’ 22nd Annual Compliance and Ethics Institute, the Deputy Attorney General said that the Safe Harbor provides companies with the presumption that the DOJ will decline criminal prosecution when they voluntarily self-disclose misconduct by companies they are acquiring or have recently acquired.
  • Justice Department Announces New Corporate Enforcement Appointments In National Security Division
     
    10/10/2023

    On September 11, 2023, the Justice Department’s National Security Division (the “Division”) announced that it had made key appointments to lead the Division’s Corporate Enforcement program.  The new appointees include Ian Richardson as the first Chief Counsel for Corporate Enforcement and Christian Nauvel as Deputy Chief Counsel for Corporate Enforcement.  Richardson and Nauvel will be tasked with overseeing the Division’s investigation and prosecution of corporate crime deemed to relate to U.S. national security.  The Division had previously announced the establishment of these positions in March 2023, when Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco also announced that the Division would add more than 25 prosecutors to investigate and prosecute sanctions evasion, export control violations and other such economic crimes.
    CATEGORIES : DOJNational Security
  • Corficolombiana Pays $80M To Resolve Bribery Probes
     
    08/16/2023

    On August 10, 2023, the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and the Department of Justice (“DOJ”), in coordination with Columbian authorities, announced that Colombian conglomerate Grupo Aval Acciones y Valores S.A (“Grupo Aval”) and its banking subsidiary Corporacion Financiera Colombiana S.A. (“Corficolombiana”) agreed to pay approximately $80 million USD for their alleged involvement in a scheme to pay $23 million USD in bribes to high-ranking government officials in Colombia, in violation of the anti-bribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”).  In resolving these allegations, Corficolombiana entered into a three-year Deferred Prosecution Agreement (“DPA”) with the DOJ, and agreed to pay a $40.6 million USD criminal penalty, up to half of which may be credited against payments to the Columbian government.
  • FCPA Charges Dismissed Due To DOJ’s Unduly Delayed Prosecution
     
    06/13/2023

    On June 7, 2023, a United States District Judge in the Southern District of Texas dismissed conspiracy charges related to Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) and money laundering violations brought against Paulo Jorge Da Costa Casquiero Murta (“Murta”) by the Department of Justice, finding that prosecutors had intentionally caused delays in Murta’s trial, in violation of both the Speedy Trial Act and Murta’s Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial.  United States v. Murta, 4:17-CR-00514-8 (S.D. Tex. June 6, 2023).  Murta, who had been in U.S. custody since July 2021, argued that despite his repeated demands for a speedy trial, the government had intentionally delayed his trial.  The Court agreed and dismissed the charges against Murta with prejudice, finding that DOJ’s prosecutors had acted in bad faith.
     
    CATEGORIES : DOJFCPA
  • Telecommunications Company Agrees To Plead Guilty Following Alleged Breach Of 2019 Deferred Prosecution Agreement
     
    03/24/2023

    On March 2, 2023, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced that a multinational telecommunications company headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden (the “Company”) agreed to plead guilty and to pay a penalty of approximately $206 million after allegedly breaching the cooperation and disclosure provisions of a 2019 Deferred Prosecution Agreement (“DPA”) it had previously entered into to address claims that it participated in a scheme to pay bribes, falsify books and records, and failed to implement reasonable internal accounting controls in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”).
  • DOJ And SEC Charge Individual For Insider Trading Through Use Of 10b5-1 Trading Plans
     
    03/24/2023

    On March 1, 2023, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) unsealed an indictment against the founder, CEO, and Chairman of a publicly traded health care company (the “Company”), alleging that he had illegally executed trades pursuant to Rule 10b5-1 trading plans while in possession of material nonpublic information. The Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) filed a concurrent civil suit against defendant for the same activity. In each case, the government alleged that defendant improperly used his 10b5-1 plans by entering into them while in possession of material nonpublic information and triggering sales shortly thereafter, without any form of cooling-off period.
    CATEGORIES : 10b-5DOJInsider TradingSEC
  • Sterling Bancorp Pleads Guilty To Criminal Securities Fraud
     
    03/24/2023

    On March 15, 2023, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced that Michigan-based bank Sterling Bancorp, Inc. (“Sterling”) agreed to plead guilty to securities fraud for allegedly filing false statements relating to its 2017 initial public offering (“IPO”) and 2018 and 2019 annual financial reports. As part of its guilty plea, Sterling agreed to pay fines totaling $69 million, including $27.2 million in restitution to non-insider stockholders.
  • DOJ Announces Revisions To The Criminal Division’s Corporate Enforcement Policy
     
    02/03/2023

    On January 17, 2023, Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite delivered remarks announcing revisions to the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) Criminal Division’s Corporate Enforcement Policy (“CEP”) at Georgetown Law Center.  The revisions aim to encourage additional companies to voluntarily self-disclose potential criminal conduct they may uncover by setting more granular incentives that will be provided to companies in such circumstances.  While there is still substantial subjectivity embedded in the revised policy regarding when and how such incentives will be made available to companies, the revisions will put added pressure on companies to make self-disclosures in certain circumstances.
  • The DOJ Reinforces And Updates Corporate Criminal Enforcement Priorities With Speech By Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco
     
    09/30/2022

    On September 15, 2022, Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco delivered remarks on the Department of Justice’s corporate prosecution priorities at New York University, at the invitation of the University’s Project on Corporate Compliance and Enforcement.  While many of her comments were simply a reiteration of existing priorities, some were potentially meaningful changes.  Indeed, by clarifying certain points and strengthening others, Monaco emphasized the “carrot and stick” approach to signal loud and clear that the DOJ remains as focused as ever on pursuing corporate crime.  She unambiguously encouraged corporations both to self-report potential criminal activity and cooperate in the investigation of culpable individuals, indicating that failure to do so could lead to severe consequences.  At the same time, as has long been the case, the policies leave somewhat subjective the true nature of any “carrot” and any “stick” that would apply in any given case, making the decision of how corporations should deal with potential criminal conduct one of the most challenging decisions corporations can face.
  • SEC And DOJ Bring First Ever Charges For Cryptocurrency Insider Trading Tipping Scheme
     
    07/28/2022

    On July 21, 2022, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) filed a complaint and the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) unsealed an indictment against Ishan Wahi, a former Coinbase employee, his brother, Nikhil Wahi, and friend, Sameer Ramani, for alleged insider trading.  SEC v. Ihan Wahi, Nikhil Wahi, and Sameer Ramani, 2:22-cv01009 (W.D. Wa. July 21, 2022); United States v. Ishan Wahi, Nikhil Wahi, and Sameer Ramani, 22-cr-392 (S.D.N.Y. 2022).  Both the complaint and indictment concern the same underlying conduct by Wahi, who allegedly provided dozens of tips to his brother and friend over several months to purchase certain digital assets tied to cryptocurrencies (the “digital assets”) shortly before they were publicly listed on Coinbase’s exchange.
  • Glencore Pleads Guilty And Agrees To $1.1 Billion Penalty To Resolve Manipulation And Foreign Corruption Allegations
     
    06/02/2022

    On May 24, 2022, Glencore International A.G. of Switzerland (“Glencore”), an energy and commodities trading firm, and its affiliates Glencore Ltd. of New York and Chemoil Corporation of New York resolved long-running investigations by the Department of Justice (“DOJ”), the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”), and regulators in the UK and Brazil related to alleged foreign bribery and market manipulation schemes.  The companies agreed to pay total fines and monetary penalties in excess of $1.1 billion, including the largest penalty and disgorgement ever ordered by the CFTC, for conduct that spanned over ten years.  As part of its resolutions with the CFTC and the DOJ, Glencore and Glencore Ltd. have agreed to retain independent compliance monitors for three years and continue to cooperate fully and expeditiously with both enforcement agencies.  In addition to the corporate resolutions, two Glencore former employees have previously been charged.  A Glencore Ltd. senior fuel oil trader, Emilio Jose Heredia Collado, pleaded guilty in March 2021 to one count of conspiracy to engage in commodities price manipulation.  His sentencing is scheduled for June 17, 2022.  Similarly, in July 2021, a senior trader in charge of Glencore’s West Africa crude oil desk pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.