In the Episode, I visit with James Koukios, partner at Morrison & Foerster, Editor-in-Chief of the firm’s Top 10 International Anti-Corruption Developments. We visit about the firm’s Top 10 International Anti-Corruption Developments for March 2020.

Some of the highlights include:

  1. Portugal Freezes Assets of Africa’s Richest Woman-could this be even bigger than 1 MDB?
  2. Thoughts on Teva FCPA enforcement action in the context of it completing its DPA.
  3. What is the DOJ saying around FCPA enforcement in the Covid-19 era?
  4. What significance, if any, do you see in Mexico request to extradite former Pemex official?
  5. OECD Expresses Concern over Costa Rica’s Foreign Bribery Enforcement Record. What does this mean?


To a copy of the Top 10 International Anti-Corruption Developments for March 2020 Newsletter click here.

In this episode of Trekking Through Compliance, we consider the episode Whom Gods Destroy which aired on January 3, 1969, Star Date 5718.3.

Story Synopsis

Kirk and Spock beam down to Elba II to deliver a revolutionary medicine to the insane asylum located there which houses the 15 incorrigible insane criminals of the Federation. Elba II is surrounded by a poisonous atmosphere. Inmate Marta warns Kirk and Spock that their host is not really governor Donald Cory, but they do not believe her. Upon viewing Cory’s cell, however, Kirk and Spock discover that the inmate and former starship fleet captain Garth of Isar has imprisoned Cory in his cell and is running the facility with the aid of the other inmates. Garth imprisons Kirk with Cory and destroys the medicines Kirk and Spock have brought.

Garth is able to change form at will using the technique of cellular metamorphosis and attempts to gain control of the Enterprise to escape and punish his former mutinous crew by impersonating Kirk. Garth is thwarted by the password Kirk has arranged with Scotty when Scotty queries “queen to queen’s level 3” and Garth does not know the proper response to this problem in 3-D chess: “queen to king’s level 1.”

Garth then invites Kirk to dinner with the inmates and Mr. Spock. At the banquet, the green poet inmate Marta recites Shakespeare and performs an exotic dance, which Spock find similar to a dance performed by Vulcan school children. We find out that Garth has charted more new worlds than any man in history, but then tried to destroy Antos 4. When Kirk refuses to reveal the counter password, Garth tortures Cory in a specially modified therapeutic chair. When Kirk still refuses, he is strapped in and tortured.

However, Marta convinces Garth to let her try more persuasive techniques. She begins making love to Kirk, then attacks him with a knife. She has arranged for Spock to be freed, and he luckily steps in and nerve pinches her before she can stab Kirk. Kirk and Spock make it to the control room where they contact the Enterprise. However, Kirk smells a rat, and demands that Spock give the countersign instead of himself. Spock, who is actually Garth in disguise, then puts the force field back on and assumes his true form before a security team can be beamed down. Kirk attempts to turn the force field back off, but is stunned by Garth before he can do so.

Garth then holds a ceremony in which he declares himself ruler of the universe, Marta his consort, and Kirk his heir apparent. He then threatens to use a powerful new explosive he has invented on Marta, who is dragged out into the poisonous atmosphere. Garth then carries out his threat, and commands that Spock be brought in. Spock pretends to be knocked out in his cell, then nerve pinches the two guards who have come to fetch him. He makes his way to the control room, where he is confronted by what appear to be two identical Captain Kirks. Spock tries to distinguish the real from the impostor by asking what maneuver was used to defeat the Romulan ship near Tau Ceti. One Kirk correctly gives the maneuver as the Cochrane deceleration, but the other Kirk points out that this is a classic battle maneuver. The two Kirks then have it out, and Spock is able to identify Garth when the real Kirk tells Spock to stun them both in order to assure the safety of the Enterprise. Control of the institution is returned to Cory, and Garth and his colleagues are cured using the new drugs. 

Fun Fact 

According to an interview published in Star Trek Lives Leonard Nimoy complained about discrepancies in the script, including inconsistencies in his own character. He blamed the director for making changes in the script to focus on “action” rather than on intelligent problem-solving, and felt the changes were a form of lying to the audience. He also complained about Spock not being able to tell the difference between the real Kirk from the impostor. Nimoy sent the memo to both producer Fred Freiberger and Paramount Television executive in charge of production, Douglas S. Cramer.

Compliance Takeaways:

  1. Do you have audit rights and do you exercise them?
  2. High risk does not mean you cannot move forward, it means you must have a robust risk management strategy.
  3. Do you go with facts or your gut in decision making?


Excruciatingly Detailed Plot Summary by Eric W. Weisstein for Whom Gods Destroy Gods Destroy

In this episode, I visited with Don Stern, Managing Director of Corporate Monitoring & Consulting Services. We consider how the M&A process benefits from independent oversight. Stern believes the best time to bring in an independent is “as early as is practicable”. By doing so there can be preliminary discussions with senior management about the process, sometimes at the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) level and at other times with the Chief Financial Officer (CFO). From these initial meetings an independent monitor could be a part of the acquirer’s team assembled for the project. He also noted there would probably be a due diligence room with documents made available for the acquiring company to review under a nondisclosure agreement (NDA). That could be meetings where teams from one company meet with teams from the other company. Stern reminded us that M&A work to some extent is “a fire drill, as everyone’s working very hard in compressed time schedules, trying to do a lot in a very short period of time.” This means at times issues pop up which may require the companies to further negotiate the terms of an escrow or other risk management protection for the buyer.

A key is the independent nature of the monitor. Part of it is that they have no stake in the outcome, no stock to vest or other remuneration. Also, it is natural for the target company’s employees to have their guard up as they are more than a little wary about anybody coming in and asking a question. Stern said, “I find that people open up, I’m more willing to be forthcoming when somebody’s outside either company comes in and is asking the questions really in a non-threatening way. The independent monitor is just looking for the facts. I find that we are able to get more information than I think we would otherwise get if we were not independent.”

This FCPA Safe Harbor for M&A re-emphasizes how powerful a tool an independent monitor can be in the M&A context. Stern ended his remarks by noting that the Department of Justice (DOJ) certainly sees it as good practice to have a third party independent involved on both the company side and the reporting side, if required. All of this lends credibility to your ethics and compliance program. If your company finds itself under scrutiny from a M&A transaction, you can take some comfort in the strategies outlined in this series.


I was recently interviewed by Suparna Goswami about the Novartis corruption enforcement actions, both the US domestic and the international FCPA matter. Incidents of fraud at pharmaceutical giant Novartis that resulted in over $1 billion in fines worldwide might have been avoided if the company’s compliance team used data analytics to detect patterns, says Thomas Fox, a compliance evangelist and author.

The Novartis case involved illegal payments and perks provided to physicians in exchange for prescribing certain drugs.

Too often, corporations’ compliance teams lack access to the data that’s necessary to do their jobs, Fox says in a video interview with Information Security Media Group. Pharmaceutical companies, for example, track doctors that prescribe their drugs. “The data is there. But the compliance function simply does not have access to that data”.

In this interview, highlights include:

  • Novartis’ fraudulent practices and how the entire episode played out in multiple countries;
  • Important lessons for compliance officers from this fraud case;
  • Why compliance teams usually are not able to leverage data analytics.

This podcast originally appeared on Fraud Today and Healthcare Info Security, in video format.