Show Notes for Episode 25, week ending October 7, 2016-the Krakow Edition

  1. Breakdown of GSK Foreign Corrupt Practices Act settlement with SEC and declination from the DOJ, click here for SEC Order and here for commentary in the in the FCPA Compliance and Ethics Blog;
  2. The SCCE 2016 Compliance Effectiveness Survey, click here for the survey;
  3. My interview with Professor Sam Buell on the FCPA Compliance Report,
  4. Wells Fargo clawbacks from CEO John Stumpf and Carrie Toldstet, as reported in the Financial Times and in the New York Times and here for my commentary;
  5. The International Gaming Tech (IGT) SEC penalty, which is the first enforcement action for relational only, as reported in the FCPA Blog; and
  6. Jay previews his Weekend Report.

oscar-meyer-wienerLast week a true American original died when Richard Trentlage passed away. If you do not know his name you certainly know signature contribution to American culture, the Oscar Meyer Weiner Song. Rather amazingly Trentlage wrote the jingle in response to a contest sponsored by the Oscar Meyer Wiener Company for a new theme in 1962 and did so in an hour. According to his  obituary in the New York Times the song “debuted in 1962 a3 and became the company’s signature advertising tune in 21 English speaking countries until 2010.” Moreover the “song became a part of the fabric of American culture, with airings on the children’s television show ‘Captain Kangaroo’, on the cartoon ‘The Jetsons’ and on an episode of the ‘The Simpsons’ in 1990. The song and its writer were true American originals.

Another original was in the news last week when the UK pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline PLC resolved its outstanding Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) issues with its settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) by agreeing to pay $20 million civil penalty when China-based subsidiaries spent millions of dollars on pay-to-prescribe schemes for several years to pump up sales. Even more amazingly the company received a declination from the Department of Justice. I say even more amazingly because at the time of the conduct at issue, GSK was under a Corporate Integrity Agreement, the pharma equivalent of a Deferred Prosecution Agreement. The CIA required GSK not only to obey laws (and to pay bribes) but have a functioning compliance program in place, which the company obviously did not give one whit about, at least in China.

For those who have long forgotten our friends over at GSK (hum the Oscar Meyer Wiener theme now) they were four or five major corruption scandals ago, way back in the summer of 2013 when news broke that the Chinese  government had accused the company of five years of institutional bribery and corruption. Senior GSK business unit leaders were arrested and GSK claimed to be shocked, just shocked that anyone would accuse it of bribery and corruption, especially after just paying the US government $3bn for false labeling products. Yet the corruption continued even after being reported by an anonymous whistleblower (cleverly monikered GSK Whistleblower) the company was not able to turn up any indicia of bribery and corruption in its China business in six months of looking.

As lightly as GSK apparently took these allegations, the Chinese authorities took them very seriously and in a few months of investigation turned up the massive and pervasive bribery scheme. They put numerous senior GSK China employees under house arrest and even managed to illicit a confession or two on public television.

All of this led to a secret trial in August 2014 where the company was fined approximately $490MM and the four top executives of GSK China were convicted. The non-Chinese citizens were deported. There was even a sex tape aspect to the matter but it was somewhat tangential to the case and (apparently) not a part of the SEC enforcement action. Most interestingly the SEC Order did not mention the fine paid in China and it is not part of the Order, although surely the SEC took it into account. At least I hope so.

Yet the SEC enforcement was not without some interest. The Order noted, “Between at least 2010 and June 2013, employees and agents of GSK’s China-based subsidiary and a China-based joint-venture engaged in various transactions and schemes to provide things of value to foreign officials, including healthcare professionals (“HCPs”), in order to improperly influence them and increase sales of GSK products in China.  This misconduct was facilitated in part by the use of collusive third parties that ostensibly provided legitimate travel and other services. The funds used for the improper inducements were frequently obtained under the guise of, and falsely recorded in GSK’s books and records as, legitimate travel and entertainment expense, marketing expense, speaker payments, medical associations payments, and promotion expense. Throughout this period GSK failed to devise and maintain a sufficient system of internal accounting controls and lacked an effective anticorruption compliance program. The deficiencies in GSK’s internal accounting controls and compliance program also led to instances of similar improper conduct in connection with sales in other countries in which GSK operates.”

Yet we learned more in the SEC Order about GSK China’s bribery scheme. One emphasis was the China business unit wide pervasiveness of the corruption. The Order noted that bribes were actually written into sale plans for the company, stating, “a 2013 work plan submitted by a sales representative to a regional sales manager described the intent to pay, among other things, an HCP RMB 20/box of prescribed product every month, and deliver appropriate gifts on each holiday in exchange for a guarantee of more than 40 boxes of prescribed product every month.”

There was also some attempt to investigate the conduct of the China business unit but they all failed uncover the systemic bribery of GSK China. One set of investigations noted, “During this period, local internal audit and compliance reviews identified controls deficiencies and evidence of some mechanisms that were used to fund the improper payments, but they were treated as isolated instances rather than signs of a larger problem.”

Even more damning was the following, “As early as 2010, internal audit identified problems related to sales and promotions staff practices in China. Among other findings it noted: [d]uring 2010, several new policies governing commercial activities such as grants and donations and sponsorships were introduced. The significant changes, combined with the high staff turnover, contribute to an environment where many commercial and medical staff do not understand how to apply policies or the rationale behind them. This was evidenced by approval of non-compliant activities, a lack of clarity on which policy to apply for activities such as grants, and weaknesses in documentation to support the legitimate intent of activities such as advisory.”

One wonders whether the internal audit staff was simply not competent to properly identify the bribery and corruption or if they simply knew not to look with any more depth or seeing their findings as “signs of a larger problem.” However given the finality of these resolutions with the SEC and DOJ, it is doubtful there will be any further investigations going forward as to GSK’s China issues.

Nevertheless the matter continues to present multiple lessons to be learned for the compliance practitioner. Assuming one wants to actually find nefarious conduct, stop it and then remediate it, GSK in China presents several lessons on what to look for and how to move forward. The SEC Order also re-emphasizes the bribery schemes used by the company. What the SEC Order and DOJ declination may ultimately symbolize is the end of a long and sordid affair for the company.

One might also consider the damage the scandal did to the parent company and the legacy of the soon-to-retire chief executive Sir Andrew Witty. While the scandal did not reach either the corporate parent in England and certainly not Sir Andrew, the $490MM fine in China and the $20MM fine in the US, pale beside the true cost to GSK, which was its sales targets in China. GSK had targeted the over $30 bn Chinese medical product and services market to be 20% of GSK total revenue by 2020. That strategy is now in tatters as the Chinese prosecution made GSK a non-entity in the Chinese health care market. Any transaction involving GSK involving a Chinese health care provider, invites government scrutiny. It is far easier for health care providers to purchase pharmaceuticals, health care products and medical services from companies which have not gone through such a prosecution.

This publication contains general information only and is based on the experiences and research of the author. The author is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, legal advice, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such legal advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified legal advisor. The author, his affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person or entity that relies on this publication. The Author gives his permission to link, post, distribute, or reference this article for any lawful purpose, provided attribution is made to the author. The author can be reached at

© Thomas R. Fox, 2016



qtq80-9N0mGBLast week there were two declinations issued by Department of Justice (DOJ) for Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) matters. The matters involved two Texas based, privately held companies. The first was HMT LLC (HMT) which makes above-ground liquid storage tanks for the oil and gas industry. The second was NCH Corporation (NCH) which produces cleaning products. Both companies received declinations under the new FCPA Pilot Program, which was announced last April.

What made these enforcement actions most interesting was that they were the first declinations; where a declination to prosecute was granted, yet there were no fines and penalties assessed against the companies yet both were required to disgorge the profits  generated by their illegal conduct. HMT disgorged $2.7 million in profit from its illegal acts and NCH disgorged $335,000 from its ill-gotten gains. While this category of declination was used for the first time in DOJ enforcement action; it was not the first time it had been discussed by the DOJ. Indeed, one might have wondered why it took nearly six months for this type of disgorgement to appear after the DOJ announcement of the FCPA Pilot Program.

When the FCPA Pilot Program was announced, most of the attention was given to the three prongs to receive credit: (1) self-disclosure, (2) extensive cooperation, and (3) thorough remediation. However, in both the Press Conference announcing the initiative and the written release, entitled “The Fraud Section’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Enforcement Plan and Guidance” (FCPA Pilot Program Guidance), the DOJ made clear there was a fourth requirement. As stated in the FCPA Pilot Program Guidance, “Moreover, to be eligible for such credit, even a company that voluntarily self-discloses, fully cooperates, and remediates will be required to disgorge all profits resulting from the FCPA violation.” It does not get much clearer than this statement.

As noted above both HMT and NCH were privately held businesses, not issuers under the Act and neither was subject to the Accounting Provisions of the FCPA. Previous FCPA enforcement actions, where there a was declination granted, involved companies which were issuers subject to the Accounting Provisions, enforced by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The companies who previously received declinations under the FCPA Pilot Program, Nortek, Akamai Technologies, and Johnson Controls all disgorged their ill-gotten profits in their respective SEC resolutions. In the cases of HMT and NCH, there could not be any SEC resolution as there is no SEC jurisdiction. Yet, to meet the fourth requirement of the FCPA Pilot Program, the companies were required to return their illegally obtained profit.

Former federal prosecutor Mike Volkov is probably the person who most often reminds us that the DOJ clearly signals its intentions. However, in FCPA Pilot Program the DOJ laid out in writing what was required and these two companies met all four requirements, thereby obtaining a declination. It should not be a surprise to anyone who read the FCPA Pilot Program Guidance to expect this was coming precisely in this type of case, where there was no SEC jurisdiction. Yet, there was more in these declinations which serve as lessons for the compliance practitioner.

NCH Corporation

According to its declination letter, “From February 2011 until mid-2013 the company had provided to Chinese government officials cash and other things of value, including gifts, meals, and entertainment, in order to influence the officials’ purchasing decisions.” These bribes were recorded in the company’s accounting records as, among other things, “customer maintenance fees,” “customer cooperation fees,” and “cash to customer,”. The company also “paid expenses for several employees of an NCH China government customer for a 10-day trip to various cities in the United States and Canada, only one half-day of which involved business related activities. The remainder of the trip involved sightseeing and other non-business activities. NCH paid approximately $12,000 for the non-business related expenses incurred by the officials during their trip, notwithstanding that NCH knew that: (1) the officials worked for a government entity; (2) NCH China had a sales bid pending before that entity while details of the trip were being discussed with the customer (although the bid was lost before the trip was taken); (3) various expenses were not for legitimate business activities; and (4) NCH had been advised that the proposed 10-day trip might violate the FCPA.”


According to its declination, from 2002 to 2011 the company had a “sales agent who was retained to promote and sell HMT’s products in Venezuela (“Venezuela agent”) illegally paid bribes to Venezuelan government officials in order to persuade Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (“PDVSA”), Venezuela’s state-owned and state-controlled energy company (an “instrumentality” under the FCPA), to purchase HMT products. To fund these bribes, the Venezuela agent frequently quoted prices to PDVSA that were substantially higher than the price HMT had quoted to the Venezuela agent. PDVSA paid the inflated prices to HMT, which kept the amount it had quoted the Venezuela agent and paid the Venezuela agent the remainder, purportedly as commission and subcontracting fees. HMT paid the Venezuela agent by wiring the purported commissions and subcontracting fees from its bank account in Texas to bank accounts designated by the agent in Panama, Curacao, and other locations.”

The factors listed which enabled both companies to receive declinations were similar. According to both declination letters, both companies:

  • Voluntarily self-disclosed the FCPA violations;
  • Thoroughly and comprehensively investigated the matter;
  • Provided full cooperation in the investigation, including providing of all known relevant facts about the individuals involved in or responsible for the misconduct, and both agreed to continue to fully cooperate in any ongoing investigations of individuals arising from this matter;
  • As noted both agreed to disgorge to the Department all profits earned from the illegal conduct;
  • Both took steps to enhance their compliance programs and their internal controls;
  • Both companies fully remediated. NCH Corporation terminated or took disciplinary action against the employees involved in the misconduct, including senior managers and lower-level employees involved in the misconduct, as well as high-level executives at company’s headquarters in the United States who oversaw the subsidiary in which the China misconduct occurred. HMT LLC also sanctioned ten employees through suspensions, pay freezes, bonus suspensions, and reductions of responsibilities, and severed business relationships with the Venezuela agent and the China distributor who were involved in the conduct. HMT also severed business relationships with seven other agents/distributors based on the findings of its investigation.

One can only say the FCPA Pilot Program is working and working well. With these two declinations the question of how privately owned businesses would be treated under the FCPA Pilot Program and the fourth requirement for profit disgorgement has been answered, although the answer was laid out in writing all along. For any Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) or compliance practitioner, these declinations should be studied closely to understand how the bribery schemes were funded and how the entities involved obtain such an outstanding result.


This publication contains general information only and is based on the experiences and research of the author. The author is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, legal advice, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such legal advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified legal advisor. The author, his affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person or entity that relies on this publication. The Author gives his permission to link, post, distribute, or reference this article for any lawful purpose, provided attribution is made to the author. The author can be reached at

© Thomas R. Fox, 2016

Show Notes for Episode 24, week ending September 30, 2016-the SCCE Edition

  1. Misonix discloses possible FCPA violations, as reported in the FCPA Blog:
  2. The Anheuser-Busch InBev SEC FCPA enforcement action, click for the SEC Order;
  3. Och-Ziff SEC FCPA enforcement action, click for the SEC Order,
  4. HMT LLC and NCH Corp receive Declinations yet are required to disgorge profits, for the HMT Declination letter, click here and for the NCH Declination letter click here;
  5. Final thoughts by Tom and Jay on the recently concluded SCCE 2016 Compliance and Ethics Institute; and
  6. Jay previews his Weekend Report.

joint-ventureJust in time for National Beverage Day comes the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) enforcement action involving Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI), where the company paid $6 million to settle charges that it violated the FCPA and impeded a whistleblower who reported the misconduct. Given the information provided in the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Cease and Desist Order (Order), one might reasonably wonder how the company got off so lightly. ABI agreed to “pay disgorgement of $2,712,955, prejudgment interest of $292,381, and a civil penalty of $3,002,955, for a total payment of $6,008,291” to the SEC.

The illegal conduct occurred in the company’s wholly owned Indian subsidiary, Crown Beers India Private Limited (Crown). ABI owned a 49% interest in the joint venture (JV) InBev India International Private Limited (IIIPL) which managed the marketing and distribution of Crown beer. The Order notes, “IIIPL used third-party sales promoters to make improper payments to Indian government officials to obtain beer orders and to increase brewery hours for Crown in 2011. IIIPL invoiced Crown for reimbursement for certain of these expenses, and Crown paid or accrued them. In doing so, Crown recorded certain of these expenses in its books as legitimate promotional costs. During this period, Crown had inadequate internal accounting controls to detect and prevent these improper payments and to ensure that transactions involving these promoters were recorded properly in its books.”

ABI made about every mistake possible in this matter and this case is therefore a very useful teaching tool for the FCPA compliance practitioner. As noted, the nefarious entity, IIILP was 49% owned by ABI (or its predecessor). The governance structure of the JV provided that ABI and its Indian partner “each had the right to appoint four IIIPL directors, with RJ Corp having the right to appoint the Chairman, who cast the tie-breaking vote on all but certain specified matters. RJ Corp appointed the IIIPL CEO, who had the power to appoint the other members of the IIIPL management team, except for the CFO, whom AB InBev appointed. Throughout the relevant period, the top financial officer at Crown acted as the top financial officer at IIIPL. From mid-2011 through early 2014, Crown’s in-house counsel also acted as IIIPL’s in-house counsel.”

The Order reports that in early 2009, the JV concocted a scheme to pay bribes to increase sales. It hired Promoter Company A, who had no industry experience, who charged excessive commissions and sought reimbursement for questionable promotions. There was no contract in place with Promoter A and no due diligence was obtained prior to the commercial relationship commencing. Later in 2009, an internal whistleblower brought forward information on the illegal activities of Promoter Company A.

In December 2009, ABI received an internal report on potential illegal activities at the JV and ABI expedited a previously scheduled audit of the JV. While “audit did not scrutinize Promoter Company A’s activities or expenses. Still, the 2010 audit identified various deficiencies at IIIPL, including (a) a lack of documented business policies and procedures for significant functions such as procurement, vendor selection, and expense reimbursement; (b) a lack of awareness about FCPA compliance; and (c) inadequate information technology controls regarding financial processes and expense payments. AB InBev did not rectify many of the issues identified in the audit until 2011 or early 2012.”

In 2011, IIILP began to work with Promoter Company B, which was owned by the son-in-law of the Provincial Excise Minister. Promoter Company B was the conduit through which bribes were paid to the Minister to allow the JV to brew after hours and later bribes were paid to generate sales. The was no due diligence performed on Promoter Company B and there was no written contract in place, although one was later surreptitiously created and magically back-dated to give the appearance of following the law.

As you might well guess, for his (or her) trouble the internal whistleblower was terminated. In settling his (or her) claim, the Separation Agreement claimed to prevent the whistleblower from reporting the illegal conduct. It is not clear if ABI attempted to enforce this provision but the Order did note the whistleblower, who had been cooperating with the SEC, ceased doing so and only resumed such cooperation, “Only after the Commission issued an administrative subpoena for testimony and documents did the Crown Employee resume communicating directly with the Commission staff.”

In addition to not self-disclosing the clear FCPA violations, ABI not only did not cooperate but actively resisted the SEC’s investigation. The Order reported, “During the investigation, AB InBev did not respond to subpoenas in a timely manner, and made broad assertions of privilege that required significant resources from the Commission staff to address and delayed the production of responsive, non-privileged documents.”

Worse, the JV engaged in plans to destroy or hide documents. Here the Order reflected, “In or about May 2013, Commission staff learned of IIIPL’s plans to destroy or hide documents. The Commission staff informed AB InBev immediately thereafter, but the company took no immediate corrective action. In September 2013, AB InBev notified the Commission staff of a meeting in which several IIIPL managers instructed top IIIPL employees to remove potentially inculpatory data from their offices and computers. Crown and IIIPL’s in-house counsel attended the meeting, but never alerted AB InBev management to the document removal instructions. Other IIIPL employees reported that they had helped or observed IIIPL managers take several binders out of the building to destroy or move to a “secret location.””

ABI did make some efforts at remediation, most notably shutting down the JV and operating directly out of India now. It also conducted “extensive FCPA training for Crown’s staff, and implemented improved compliance policies and controls at Crown, including policies and controls relating to third-party due diligence and contracts. AB InBev also has hired a dedicated India compliance manager who reports to a new India Legal Counsel and Head of Compliance.”

ABI was found to have violated the FCPA and the Dodd-Frank Whistleblower provisions in the Order. The FCPA violations included violations of both prongs of the Accounting Provisions; books and records and internal controls. The Dodd-Frank violations centered on not only trying to illegally muzzle the un-named whistleblower but indeed all employees terminated when the JV was dissolved. It was not spelled out in the Order which part of the penalty of $3MM+ related to the FCPA violations and which part related to the Dodd-Frank violations.

This enforcement action drives home several points on basic FCPA compliance. The first centers around JVs. Companies must take their FCPA and Dodd-Frank obligations seriously as they apply to foreign JVs. ABI clearly did not. Not only did it put forward a less than rigorous audit of the JV after having been put on notice, it did not follow through to ensure that audit recommendations were followed. ABI allowed the illegal conduct to continue long after it was put on notice.

Next, the role of the in-house counsel must be raised as the lawyers for the company have not come out of this looking too good. Not only were the Indian subsidiary, Crown’s in-house counsel, the counsel for the JV involved, they were a large part of the problem. The Order specifically called out these lawyers for being in attendance at meetings where document destruction and hiding was discussed but did not inform the corporate parent or anyone else. Someone in the legal department had to have drafted or at least approved the illegal language of the Separation Agreement. I hope that ABI sent its in-house counsel to some strong legal ethics training. Some FCPA training would also seem appropriate.


This publication contains general information only and is based on the experiences and research of the author. The author is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, legal advice, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such legal advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified legal advisor. The author, his affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person or entity that relies on this publication. The Author gives his permission to link, post, distribute, or reference this article for any lawful purpose, provided attribution is made to the author. The author can be reached at

© Thomas R. Fox, 2016