Apr. 10, 2024

Gunvor Pays Over $661M for Bribes to Petroecuador

As part of what appears to be a sweep of commodities trading firms, the DOJ recently announced one of its largest settlements in the last few years. Swiss-based Gunvor S.A. has agreed to pay over $661 million to resolve an investigation into FCPA violations related to its dealings with Ecuador’s state-owned and -controlled oil company, Petroecuador. The company appears to have paid a higher penalty due to its previous anti-corruption issues and its lackluster cooperation, but it still managed to avoid a compliance monitor by engaging in significant remediation. The Anti-Corruption Report spoke with experts in the field to tease out the lessons from the case. See “SAP’s $220‑Million Settlement Offers Clues on Compliance Expectations” (Feb. 14, 2024).

The DOJ Announces Intention to Launch Whistleblower Program: What Does It Mean for Whistleblowers?

A sweeping whistleblower program, announced by senior DOJ officials in March 2024, means whistleblowers at unlisted U.S. companies may now be eligible for monetary rewards, but what those rewards will look like may leave some whistleblowers unsatisfied. The Anti-Corruption Report spoke to experts in the field – some who represent corporations and some who represent whistleblowers – to understand what this new program will mean for those seeking rewards for blowing the whistle. This second article in a two-part series considers what the program will look like for whistleblowers, including limitations on eligibility and payment amounts. Part one explored what the program will look like at the governmental level. See “SEC and CFTC Received Record Number of Whistleblower Tips and Made a Record Award in 2022” (Feb. 15, 2023).

Five Ways to Use Existing Resources to Meet Sanctions and Export Control Compliance Needs

Over the past several years, there has been a steady drumbeat of statements from the DOJ, the Department of Treasury and the Department of Commerce, particularly the Bureau of Industry and Security, regarding the importance of sanctions and export control compliance. However, establishing and maintaining an effective compliance program in an area that until recently may have seemed lower risk can be daunting. Fortunately, when it comes to sanctions and export control compliance, companies with established anti-bribery and corruption and wider financial crime compliance programs may be further along than they realize. In a guest article, Joshua Drew, a member of Miller & Chevalier, and Laura Deegan, a counsel at the firm, discuss the current state of play regarding sanctions and export control enforcement, including the government’s developing priorities, and make five concrete suggestions on how to best stand up or strengthen an existing compliance program making efficient use of existing resources. See the Anti-Corruption Report’s two-part series on New Russia Restrictions: “Agency Cooperation and Industry Focus” (Mar. 13, 2024), and “International Cooperation and Risk Mitigation” (Mar. 27, 2024).

Forecasting Potential Outcomes in SEC v. Jarkesy Based on Recent Oral Arguments

To preserve a key avenue for its enforcement actions, the SEC petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit’s 2022 decision that SEC enforcement proceedings before an administrative law judge were unconstitutional. The line of questioning during recently completed oral arguments before the Court potentially offers an indication about the Jarkesy ruling expected later in 2024. In an interview, Schulte Roth partner John P. Nowak shares insights on how the parties’ arguments have been received, as well as the potential outcomes and impacts of a ruling. See “Agency Power and Adjudication: The Government Seeks Supreme Court Review of Jarkesy v. SEC” (Jun. 21, 2023).

Court Enjoins Enforcement of the CTA for Some – What Now?

The Corporate Transparency Act was a lauded weapon against corruption when it was passed into law, but, with a recent decision out of the U.S. District Court for the Norther District of Alabama, its enforceability is now in question. Attorneys at Akin Gump, Maddin Hauser and Perkins Coie told the Anti-Corruption Report that the reporting mandates for corporate ownership and control is unlikely to go anywhere, in the near term, but additional law suits – and confusion – are inevitable. This article distills their impressions of the significance of recent legal filings, the likelihood of future lawsuits, possible political overtones and willingness to embrace the still-imperfect law. See “Details Unclear as Corporate Transparency Act Heads Toward 2024 Debut” (Aug. 2, 2023).

New Partner Establishes Pillsbury’s White-Collar Expertise in London

Litigation partner Audrey Koh has joined Pillsbury, expanding the firm’s capabilities in the London market. Koh will lead the firm’s corporate investigations & white collar defense practice in the London office. She arrives from Avonhurst. For commentary from Koh, see “Dealing With the SFO After Its ‘Fundamental Failures’” (Sep. 28, 2022). For insights from Pillsbury, see “Magyar Telekom Individual Defendants Settle Bribery Claims From 2005” (May 10, 2017).

Leading White-Collar Team Joins Blank Rome in New York and Washington, D.C.

Blank Rome has continued the expansion of its white collar defense and investigations group by adding a team of four attorneys – Bradley Henry, Kathleen Shannon, Jason Emert and Ekinsu Çebi Elkei – in New York and Washington, D.C. The foursome, which advises domestic and international clients on criminal defense and government investigations, internal investigations and compliance matters, joins from Akerman. For insights from Blank Rome, see our three-part series on the Airbus case: “A Milestone in International Anti‑Corruption Cooperation” (Feb. 19, 2020); “Compliance Lessons” (Mar. 4, 2020); and “The Value of Cooperation” (Mar. 18, 2020).

Akin Names Former Federal Prosecutor As Co-Head of White Collar Defense & Government Investigations Practice

Akin has announced that partner Katherine Goldstein has been named co-head of its white collar defense & government investigations practice in New York. For insights from Akin, see “U.S. Sanctions Against Russia Expand to Target Foreign Financial Institutions” (Feb. 14, 2024); and “The Evolving Crypto Regulatory Climate” (May 11, 2022).