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September 24, 2021

London-based advertising company WPP plc, which has ADRs registered in the US, will pay $19 million in disgorgement, interest, and penalties to resolve allegations that it violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.  The SEC charged that WPP acquired advertising agencies in high-risk markets and failed to insure that these subsidiaries implemented appropriate internal controls or respond to repeated warning signs and internal complaints about activities including payments to government officials in India, China, Brazil, and Peru.  SEC

June 25, 2021

UK-based global engineering company Amec Foster Wheeler Energy Limited, a subsidiary of John Wood Group plc, has agreed to pay more than $40.7 million in criminal fines, disgorgement, and interest, and enter into a three-year deferred prosecution agreement to settle foreign bribery charges involving a $190 million contract from state-owned Petróleo Brasileiro S.A. (Petrobras) to design a gas-to-chemicals complex in Brazil.  Through employees located in New York and Texas, Amec Foster Wheeler allegedly conspired with others to pay bribes to win the contract, earning at least $12.9 million in profit as a result. The company also reached settlements with the United Kingdom’s Serious Fraud Office and Brazilian authorities, and will receive credits for payments made to those entities. USAO EDNY; DOJ; SEC

January 8, 2021

Deutsche Bank Aktiengesellschaft entered into a deferred prosecution agreement and agreed to pay over $130 million to resolve charges that the financial services company violated the FCPA and engaged in a commodities fraud scheme.  The SEC charged that Deutsche Bank made payments to individuals including foreign officials, their relatives, and their associates as third-party intermediaries and consultants to obtain and retain global business, and lacked sufficient internal accounting controls related to the use and payment of such intermediaries, resulting in millions in bribe payments or payments for unknown, undocumented, or unauthorized services that were inaccurately recorded as legitimate business expenses with documentation falsified by Deutsche Bank employees. The agreed payment represents a $79.6 million criminal penalty and $43.3 million in disgorgement in prejudgment interest to the SEC.   Separately, in connection with a spoofing scheme undertaken by Deutsche precious metals traders in New York, Singapore, and London the bank agreed to a total of $7.5 million in criminal penalties, disgorgement, and restitution, the penalty amount of which will be credited against a 2018 $30 million CFTC civil penalty for substantially the same conduct.   SEC; DOJ

December 3, 2020

The U.S. affiliate of one of the world’s largest energy trading firms has agreed to resolve investigations by U.S. and Brazilian authorities into alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by paying a combined $135 million, as well as an additional $16 million in penalty and $12.7 million in disgorgement to the CFTC.  From 2005 to 2020, Vitol Inc. allegedly paid millions of dollars in bribes to government officials in Brazil, Ecuador, and Mexico in order to obtain competitive advantages.  Many of the bribes were paid to officials at Brazil’s state-owned and state-controlled oil company, Petróleo Brasileiro S.A., through a series of intermediaries, fictitious companies, fictitious email accounts, and code names.  This is the first action involving foreign corruption that was brought by the CFTC.  CFTC; DOJ; USAO EDNY

October 27, 2020

Chicago-based distillery Beam Suntory Inc. (Beam) has agreed to pay over $19.5 million to settle allegations of paying bribes to Indian government officials between 2006 to 2012, in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).  At least some of the bribes were authorized by a high-level regional executive and paid by third parties.  Additionally, Beam intentionally failed to implement internal controls to prevent such conduct, as well as falsified books and records to conceal the bribes after they were paid.  As part of the settlement, Beam admitted to the charges and agreed to a three-year deferred prosecution agreement.  USAO NDIL

October 22, 2020

The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. and its Malaysian subsidiary, Goldman Sachs (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd. (GS Malaysia) have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with DOJ, and agreed to pay $2.9 billion as part of a coordinated resolution with authorities in the U.S., U.K., and Singapore.  Between 2009 and 2014, senior employees at the global financial institution directly and indirectly paid over $1.6 billion in bribes to government officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi, earning $606 million in revenue and an increased presence in Southeast Asia as a result.  Goldman’s managing director, Tim Leissner, was separately charged for his role last DecemberDOJ; USAO EDNY; SEC

October 14, 2020

Brazilian investment company J&F Investimentos S.A. and is meat producer subsidiary, JBS S.A., along with their principles Joesley Batista and Wesley Batista have entered into a settlement agreement with the SEC and DOJ, agreeing to pay nearly $283 million in fines and disgorgement and plead guilty to resolve charges under the FCPA arising from a scheme to bribe government officials in Brazil in order to obtain financing and other benefits for the companies.  Defendants paid approximately $180 million in bribes to obtain hundreds of millions of dollars in financing from Brazilian state-owned and state-controlled banks BNDES and Caixa, as well as to facilitate JBS’s acquisition of U.S. company Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation.  The bribes were allegedly paid from U.S. assets, including JBS operating accounts that also contained Pilgrim’s funds.  The SEC further charged that the Batistas, who exerted significant control over Pilgrim’s, caused it have an inadequate system of internal controls and accurate books and records.  The criminal fine of $256 million will be discounted up to 50% to credit defendants for a settlement with Brazilian authorities valued at $1.9 billion; the SEC agreement provides for a payment of $27 million in disgorgement and interest. Defendants also agreed to cooperate any ongoing or further investigations and implement an enhanced compliance program. DOJ; SEC; USAO EDNY

September 22, 2020

Florida-based asphalt company Sargeant Marine, Inc., will plead guilty and pay $16.6 million to resolve claims that it violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.  Between 2010 and 2018 the company paid millions of dollars in bribes to foreign officials in Brazil, Venezuela, and Ecuador, in order to secure contracts with state-owned oil companies.  To execute the scheme and conceal the bribe payments, Sargeant Marine entered into fake consulting agreements with bribe intermediaries.  DOJ; USAO ED NY

September 11, 2020

Two whistleblowers who made specific, credible, and timely reports to the CFTC of an ongoing fraud have been awarded an undisclosed sum.  The first whistleblower, based in the U.S., made the first report and provided information and documents that would have otherwise been difficult to obtain.  The second whistleblower, based abroad, provided additional information, including the wrongdoers’ attempts to avoid detection.  According to the CFTC, the whistleblowers’ joint efforts helped lead to a successful enforcement action.  CFTC

August 28, 2020

Herbalife Nutrition Ltd. will pay over $123 million to resolve claims that the US-based company violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by paying bribes to Chinese officials and other state-owned entities in order to secure required direct selling licenses, improperly influence Chinese investigations into Herbalife's business, and improperly influence Chinese state-owned and state-controlled media for the purpose of removing negative media reports about Herbalife. Herbalife admitted that over the course of ten years it falsified its books and records in order to provide corrupt payments and benefits to Chinese government officials.  To resolve criminal charges, Herbalife will enter into a deferred prosecution agreement and pay a $55 million criminal penalty; to resolve civil charges by the SEC, Herbalife will pay disgorgement and interest totaling approximately $67 million.  DOJ; USAO SDNY; SEC
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