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News >> Anti-Bribery & Anti-Corruption

The Las Vegas Sands Corporation (Sands) indicated in its annual regulatory filing last week that its audit committee and independent accountants had concluded that the company likely violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). The admission comes at the same time the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Department of Justice, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been conducting an investigation into the company’s activities in China. According to the filing, Sands is cooperating with all investigations and the company did not believe the filing would have an impact on financial statements or necessitate revisions to its past statements.

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Tom Mars, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (Wal-Mart) chief administrative officer, will leave the company on March 13 after more than ten years with the retail giant. Wal-Mart declined to elaborate on the reason for his departure. Mars was the company’s general counsel from 2002 to 2009. He was involved in an investigation into bribery allegations regarding a Wal-Mart store built near Mexican pyramids. Member of two House committees began an investigation into possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act after the New York Times reported in 2012 that Wal-Mart executives learned in 2005 of allegations that bribes were used to gain government approval of Wal-Mart store openings in Mexico.

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3M Company (3M) announced this week that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) informed the company in January that they would be dropping their bribery investigation without taking any actions. The agencies had been investigating 3M since 2009 regarding possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) after the company voluntarily disclosed it was conducting an internal probe into one of its subsidiaries located in Turkey.

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U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan ruled last week that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission could continue to pursue bribery charges against three former Deutsche Telekom AG executives. Sullivan rejected a motion filed by the three executives to dismiss the case alleging violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). The defendants, Elek Straub, Andras Balogh, and Tamas Morval, argued that the SEC did not have jurisdiction to sue them in the U.S. because the case hinged on only a few emails that were sent through U.S. servers. However, Sullivan ruled there was enough evidence to suggest the defendants intended harm in the U.S.

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Italian police have arrested Finmeccanica chief executive and chairperson Giuseppe Orsi on allegations that he bribed intermediaries in the €560 million (approximately US$749 million) sale of 12 helicopters from the Italian state-controlled defence technologies conglomerate to the Indian Government. Reportedly, Indian Defence Minister A. K. Antony has ordered India's federal police to conduct an inquiry into the deal, which allegedly involved kickbacks worth Rs40 million paid to Indian officials.

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Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (Wal-Mart) has named Karen Roberts as its new general counsel. Roberts will assume her new role beginning on February 1. The previous general counsel, Jeff Gearhart will continue to lead the legal department as executive vice president and corporate secretary and focus his efforts on global compliance efforts as Wal-Mart continues to deal with bribery allegations in Mexico. Wal-Mart has been under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and The Securities and Exchange Commission regarding allegations that the company bribed Mexican officials in order to more quickly open stores in the country.

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The United States (US) Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has announced that insurance and asset management company Allianz SE (Allianz) has agreed to pay US$12.3 million to settle SEC charges that it breached the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in the period 2001 to 2008. A SEC investigation found that 295 government insurance contracts were obtained or retained by improper payments of US$650,626 by Allianz's subsidiary in Indonesia to employees of state-owned groups.

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Rolls-Royce said that it has been in talks with Britain’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) over potential corruption involving its intermediaries overseas. Allegedly, the SFO asked the company to investigate allegations of corruption in China and Indonesia earlier in the year. Rolls-Royce then hired an outside body to conduct an investigation, the results of which identified matters of concern. The company then reported its concerns to the SFO. Aerospace and defense companies like Rolls-Royce often use intermediaries to conduct business in areas where they do not have large scale operations and the industry has faced allegations of corruption before.

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According to a recent study released by Kroll Advisory Solutions, only 47% of Asia Pacific companies surveyed had conducted an assessment of the risks stemming from enforcement of the U.K. Bribery Act and the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). Of those who did not conduct assessments, 51.3% either do not know how strong their compliance programs are or believe their compliance programs are not strong enough. Asian companies have been the target of U.S. enforcement action in the past.

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The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) agreed to end the deferred prosecution agreement of Pride International (Pride), an oil services company, one year early due to its strong anti-bribery compliance program. This is believed to be the first time the DOJ has ended a deferred-prosecution agreement related to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) early. Pride faced FCPA charges for paying US$2 million in bribes to foreign officials in several countries including Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Nigeria and Kazakhstan, in the early 2000’s. The case was part of a larger investigation into Panalpina, a Swiss logistics company.

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