The release of the so-called Panama Papers and the launch of a pilot self-disclosure program for Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) have added to the flurry of activity related to the FCPA.
The Panama Papers are voluminous set of leaked documents that detail the existence and contents of private offshore accounts. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) stopped short of saying that it would review the Panama Papers for any links to FCPA violations, but the SEC has announced that it could review the Panama Papers for information signaling FCPA violations. This is a story that bears monitoring, as the Panama Papers may prove to be a gold mine for investigators looking for infractions.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it is launching a one-year pilot program encouraging voluntary self-disclosure of FCPA related misconduct. Under the program, when a criminal resolution is warranted, but a company voluntarily self-discloses and meets certain requirements in the disclosure, the DOJ may provide a 50% reduction in any fine and generally, if the company has implemented an acceptable and effective compliance program, the DOJ will not require the appointment of an official monitor.
On April 20, 2016, Dmitrij Harder, owner of the Chestnut Group, Inc., pleaded guilty to violating the FCPA. Harder was indicted in January of 2015 for allegedly providing bribes to a senior official at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in the amount of $3.5 million. The Chestnut Group’s corporate clients were suspected to have benefitted from the bribes by receiving approvals and investment from the EBRD for development projects in eastern Europe. Harder and his company were said to have received up to $8 million in fees for “helping” their clients.