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International Regulatory Enforcement

At Long Last DOJ and SEC Update Their FCPA Resource Guide
In July 2020, the DOJ released the second edition of its Resource Guide to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (the “2020 FCPA Guide” or the “Guide”); an update of the first edition released in November 2012 (the “2012 FCPA Guide”) by the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). The 2020 FCPA Guide continues to serve the main purposes of its previous edition: (i) to outline the Government's interpretation of the law; (ii) provide insight into its enforcement priorities; and (iii) communicate a clear understanding of how the Government exercises its discretion. Reflecting the increased volume of U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) investigations since 2012 and resulting litigation, the 2020 FCPA Guide also incorporates the DOJ's and SEC's interpretations of a number of important federal court decisions
Sacré Bleu! France Sends a Message in the Fight Against Foreign Bribery
On June 2, 2020, French Minister of Justice Nicole Belloubet issued a « circulaire » (hereafter, the “Circular”) on “criminal policy related to international bribery,” which provides guidance to French prosecutors on the priority of enforcing France’s anti-corruption laws. The Circular reflects another significant French development in the corruption enforcement landscape and sends two important messages to French and foreign companies.
Key Takeaways from the Novartis $345 Million FCPA Settlement
On Thursday, June 25, 2020, the United States Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced a pair of deferred prosecution agreements with one current and one former subsidiary of Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis AG to resolve criminal Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) allegations to the tune of a combined $233 million. In a parallel resolution, Novartis AG agreed to pay the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) $112 million to settle charges that it violated the FCPA in connection with misconduct by its subsidiaries. Novartis’s combined $345 million resolution represents the largest FCPA resolution of this calendar year since the monumental Airbus resolution in January, as well as the third largest FCPA resolution of all time in the life sciences industry. Additionally, this resolution is the second time within the last four years that Novartis AG has fallen under regulatory scrutiny for alleged FCPA misconduct; it reached a $25 million resolution with the SEC in March 2016 related to two of its Chinese subsidiaries. With Thursday’s resolution, Novartis is the first FCPA recidivist manufacturer in the pharmaceutical sector.
The Trend Continues: As Outward Bound Investments from Japanese Multinationals Continue to Grow, So Do ABAC Compliance and Other Enforcement Risks
In 2016, we advised Japanese multinationals that their growing significance in the global economy, primarily as a key source of outward bound investment and merger & acquisition (“M&A”) activity, translated into growing anti-bribery, anti-corruption (“ABAC”) compliance and other enforcement risks. In that article, found here, we detailed booming economic activity alongside significant then-recent enforcement activity against Japanese multinationals by the U.S. government, primarily under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) but also the U.S. Anti-Kickback Statute (“AKS”), for activities in major targets of Japanese outward bound investment—the U.S., China, and emerging Asia markets such as Vietnam. In particular, the May 2016 $646 million mega-resolution with Olympus Corp. for FCPA and AKS violations (to this day still the largest medical device company and AKS resolution of all time) constituted a foreboding example of economic expansion without sufficient compliance controls. Consequently, we advised Japanese multinationals to take a proactive approach to ABAC compliance.
CFIUS Extends its Reach to Order the Termination of Ekso Bionics' Role in Joint Venture in China
On May 20, 2020, Ekso Bionics Holdings, Inc. (“Ekso Bionics”), a U.S. manufacturer of robotic mechanical suits (“exoskeletons”), announced that it had received an ultimatum from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (“CFIUS” or the “Committee”) to terminate its role in a 2019 joint venture with Chinese partners.
Déjà-vu All Over Again: Government Enforcement in Response to Economic Crises
With the dust from enforcement actions stemming from the post-2008 recession beginning to settle, COVID-19 (“Coronavirus”) has thrust the world into an uncertain economic future. Companies must confront the obvious public health implications of COVID-19, as well as pandemic-induced shocks to supply chains, demand conditions, and business operations. Many will debate the similarities and differences between 2008 and 2020, but one similarity is apparent and inescapable: a crisis requiring trillions of dollars of government stimulus invites significant regulatory oversight and enforcement scrutiny. This oversight and scrutiny will look not only for the causes of the crisis, but also reactions thereto, by both public and private actors. Company actions, including those viewed as necessary to respond to the crisis, will be evaluated by government investigators in hindsight with a rearview mirror after the crisis has subsided and in the light of subsequent events and perceived consequences not known at the time of the crisis. If the past is prologue, the following areas will draw the most governmental interest and may require extra diligence.
New Team Telecom Process Formalized; FCC Rules to Follow
On April 4, 2020, President Trump issued an Executive Order establishing a Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector. The Order formalizes the presently ad hoc “Team Telecom” process of national security review of communications transactions involving foreign investment and adds to the complex regulatory environment for these deals. Soon after, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai applauded the action and announced that the Commission would conclude its pending rulemaking to reform its foreign ownership review processes.
Details on Washington, D.C. COVID-19 Closure of Non-Essential Businesses Order
On March 24, 2020, Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser issued an order requiring the closure of non-essential businesses and prohibiting gatherings of ten or more individuals (“Order”). The Order, issued as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, went into effect at 10:00 pm on Wednesday, March 25, 2020 and will continue through April 24, 2020, unless further extended.
OECD National Contact Points: Lessons from VEON & ANZ
OECD National Contact Point (NCP) processes—discussed in a prior post and article—are an increasingly material source of ESG-related business risk. Two recent decisions illustrate how these processes are evolving to take on a broader mandate and harder edge.
Harvard Professor Arrested for Allegedly Hiding Ties to China: What Universities Can Do to Protect National Security While Promoting an Open Academic Environment
On January 28, 2020, Charles Lieber, chair of the Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department at Harvard University, was arrested and charged with making false statements to U.S. Government agencies regarding his ties to Wuhan University of Technology (“WUT”). On the same day, two Chinese nationals who worked as researchers in Massachusetts were separately indicted for their involvement in transferring sensitive research to China.
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