Feb. 19, 2020

Airbus Case Marks a Milestone in International Anti‑Corruption Cooperation

Airbus SE, one of the preeminent manufacturers of airplanes, has settled allegations that it used third-party intermediaries to bribe foreign officials to win contracts all over the world and agreed to pay the largest anti-corruption penalty in history. The $3.9 billion in combined penalties will be divided among U.S., U.K. and French enforcement authorities. In this first article in our series examining the case, we take a close look at how the various authorities coordinated their investigation and how Airbus managed these parallel inquiries. A future article will look at the company’s misconduct and how it revamped its compliance program sufficiently to win significant cooperation credit and avoid an independent compliance monitor. See “How Companies Can Respond to the Boom in FCPA Enforcement Fueled by International Cooperation” (Oct. 30, 2019).

The Start-Up Mentality: Avon’s Compliance Redesign After Monitorship

A compliance monitorship is a challenging and, ultimately, transforming experience for a company. At Avon, that transformation post-monitorship was even more pronounced as the company’s CEO at the time asked all departments to approach their work with a start-up mentality as part of a turnaround strategy for the company. In this installment of the Anti-Corruption Report’s conversation with Richard Davies, Avon’s chief compliance officer, he talks about life after the monitoring period and the opportunity to innovate the program in the lead-up to its acquisition in January 2020 by Natura & Co., the owner of The Body Shop and Aesop. In the first part of our interview with Davies, he spoke about the company’s remediation efforts, how it learned from its monitor and how the self-reporting period served as a useful transition between the pre- and post-monitorship periods. See “How Avon Made Its Unique Monitorship a Positive Experience” (Jan. 22, 2020).

The Global Whistleblowing Legal Landscape and Best Practices in the U.S. and U.K.

To address the fragmentation (or lack) of whistleblowing law in Europe, the E.U. has sought to harmonize whistleblowing protection with a new directive. Meanwhile, the U.K. government has stated it does not intend to implement the directive in light of the U.K.’s withdrawal from the E.U. In this guest article, Sidley Austin attorneys Sara George, David Smith, Lauren Cuyvers and Isaac Lara contrast the position under the new Directive and in the U.K. with the position in the U.S. where, unlike in Europe, financial incentives are available to whistleblowers in certain circumstances. They consider recent developments and enforcement trends, and provide practical steps companies can implement to help ensure robust and effective whistleblower protection and in turn minimize the risks associated with wrongdoing. See “Whistleblowers’ Impact on Corporations and SEC Enforcement” (Nov. 13, 2019).

Is the Guralp Systems Limited No-Penalty DPA a Tectonic Shift or Factual Peculiarity?

A few days after three employees of Guralp Systems Limited, a U.K. seismic device company, were acquitted of charges of conspiracy to bribe a South Korean government official, the U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) announced that the company had entered into a £2 million DPA, in which it agreed that its employees had in fact bribed the Korean official. The apparent contradiction between the two December 2019 events roused some commentary in the legal community. In a guest article, Sacha Harber-Kelly, a partner at Gibson Dunn, and Steve Melrose, an associate, dive deep into the details of the Guralp DPA and discuss whether the case represents a significant shift in enforcement for the SFO. See “Osofsky’s American Dream for the SFO” (Feb. 20, 2019).

Overcoming the Joint Venture “Blind Spot”

Several major FCPA settlements in 2019 involved joint ventures, a fresh reminder that a U.S. issuer can hold a minority interest in a joint venture and still be liable for the joint venture’s misconduct. In a recent Strafford webinar, Hogan Lovells partner Edward Fishman and Miller & Chevalier member James Tillen discussed FCPA risks unique to joint venture relationships. Many companies are “very reluctant to impose any kind of requirements on their joint venture partner,” Fishman said. “That is just a recipe for disaster.” See “Strategies for Mitigating the FCPA Risk of Entering Into Joint Ventures” (May 1, 2013).

SFO Co-Head of Fraud and Corruption Camilla de Silva to Join Simmons & Simmons in May

She was instrumental in negotiating the Rolls-Royce DPA, and worked on many other high-profile cases at the agency. See “SFO’s de Silva Talks International Cooperation Logistics” (Jun. 12, 2019).

Former AUSA Rejoins Alston & Bird in Atlanta

Joseph Burby conducts internal investigations on behalf of public and private organizations and their boards, counseling them on remedial actions and disclosure decisions. He has extensive experience in matters relating to  the FCPA, fraud, the False Claims Act, antitrust violations, bribery and tax fraud. For more from Alston & Bird, see “Sentencing in Micronesian Bribery Case Highlights DOJ’s Commitment to Individual Prosecutions​​” (Jun. 26, 2019).