SEC Fines International Conglomerate $6.5 Million For FCPA Violations Related To Client Travel And Hospitality Expenses
On August 25, 2023, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) accepted an Offer of Settlement (the “settlement”) from 3M Company (“3M”), related to alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act’s (“FCPA”) books and records and internal accounting control provisions (§§ 13(b)(2)(A) – (B) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934). Without admitting or denying the findings, 3M agreed to pay $6,581,618 to resolve allegations that 3M’s China subsidiary (“3M-China”) improperly accounted for overseas trips it provided to 3M-China’s customers who were employed by Chinese state-owned entities (SOEs). According to the SEC, 3M-China invited SOE customers, who are deemed foreign officials under the FCPA, “to attend overseas conferences, educational events, and health care facility visits … ostensibly as part of 3M-China’s marketing and outreach efforts, but that in fact were often a pretext to provide overseas travel, sightseeing and entertainment … to the Officials to obtain and retain business from the SOE Customers.”
Corficolombiana Pays $80M To Resolve Bribery Probes
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
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.
Dutch Company Settles Alleged FCPA Violations With SEC For $62M
On May 11, 2023, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) announced that Netherlands-based Koninklijke Philips N.V. (“Philips”) will pay more than $62 million to resolve claims that it violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) with respect to alleged conduct related to its sales of medical diagnostic equipment in China. Admin. Proc. File No. 3-21411. According to the SEC, Philips’ subsidiaries in China used special price discounts with distributors that created a risk that excessive distributor margins could be used to fund improper payments to employees. Philips neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing as part of the settlement.
Telecommunications Company Agrees To Plead Guilty Following Alleged Breach Of 2019 Deferred Prosecution Agreement
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 Extend FCPA Monitorship For Telecom Company
On December 14, a multinational telecommunications company headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden (the “Company”), announced it had reached agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) to extend the Company’s independent compliance monitorship by one year, to June 2024. The agreement to extend the monitor, which had been required under a 2019 resolution with the DOJ, was the result of the DOJ determining that the Company had failed to adequately disclose compliance matters that it had investigated in Iraq.