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Articles Tagged with FCPA Violations

To settle an Securities and Exchange Commission case, Maxwell Technologies, Inc. and one of its former sales executives and officers, Van Andrews, have agreed to pay $2.8M and $50K in penalties, respectively, but without denying or admitting to the regulator’s allegations. They are not, however, admitting to or denying the SEC’s finding that they were involved a fraudulent revenue scam that inflated the energy storage company’s reported financial results.

The regulator’s order said that the company acknowledged revenue from ultracapacitor sales “prematurely” so as to better fulfill the expectations of analysts. Andrews is accused of inflating revenues through secret customer deals and by doctoring records to hide the scam from outside auditors, as well as company finance and accounting staff.

As part of his settlement, Andrews is barred for five years from taking on an officer or director role in a public company. Also settling charges against them related to this matter are ex-Maxwell CEO David Schramm, who will pay almost $80K in disgorgement and prejudgment interest, plus a penalty. Ex-Maxwell controller James DeWitt will pay a $20K penalty. The two men are accused of not doing an adequate enough job of addressing red flags indicating that misconduct may have been afoot. Ex-Maxwell CFO Kevin Royal has not been charged by the SEC with wrongdoing. However, he repaid the company the $135,800 in compensation he received during the time that the alleged accounting violations are said to have occurred.

A Brazilian-based petrochemical maker that trades its stock in US markets has arrived at a $95M global settlement with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, the US Justice Department, and authorities in Switzerland and Brazil. Braskem SA is accused of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and generating fake books and records to hide millions of dollars in bribes that it allegedly paid government officials in Brazil for the purposes of either keeping or winning business.

Braskem is accused of making about $325M in profits because of these purported bribes that were made via intermediaries and off-book accounts run by its biggest shareholder. The SEC believes that the petrochemical manufacturer lacked the internal controls to stop it from executing these bribes, which allegedly occurred over eight years.

As part of the settlement, Braskem will pay $325M in disgorgement—$65M of that will go to the SEC and $260 will go to authorities in Brazil. Another $632M will go toward criminal penalties and fines. Braskem will have to work with an independent corporate monitor for a minimum of three years.

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NY Hedge Fund to Pay $413M to Settle Civil and Criminal Charges Over FCPA Violations
Och-Ziff Capital Management Group has settled both criminal and civil charges accusing the New York hedge fund of paying bribes to obtain business in Africa. This is the first hedge fund to face punishment over violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. 
As part of its settlement with the SEC, Och-Ziff will pay almost $200M to the Commission. Meantime, the hedge fund’s CEO, Daniel S. Och, will pay the regulator almost $2.2M to resolve charges accusing him of causing certain violations. CFO Joel M. Frank also agreed to settle the SEC the charges against him and will pay a penalty. 

In June, The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit will hear oral argument in Asadi v. G.E. Energy (USA) LLC, a novel appeal over whether the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act’s whistleblower statute give protections to informants who report that there have been possible Foreign Corrupt Practices Act abroad. The lawsuit had been dismissed by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas on the grounds that the Supreme Court’s decision in Morrison v. National Australia Bank Ltd. precluded applying the anti-retaliation provisions to behavior that occurred outside this country.

The plaintiff, Khaled Asadi, is a citizen of both Iraq and the United States. He had sued GE Energy (USA) LLC, his former employer, last year claiming that the company had violated these provisions when they fired him because he allegedly told his superiors that about a possible hiring situation that could violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. He says that he spotted the alleged wrongdoing while working temporarily with Iraqi authorities in Jordan to obtain business for GE Energy.

After the district court in Texas threw out his case, Asadi filed his appeal, arguing that the Anti-Retaliation provisions specifically protect employees who make disclosures of any rule, law, or regulation under the Securities and Exchange Commission’s jurisdiction. He also maintains that American citizens working abroad who provide information about securities violations should be protected when those violations possess “extraterritorial applicability.”

Massachusetts Investment Adviser Gets $1.78M Judgment

In a final judgment, the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts says that EagleEye Asset Management LLC and its principal Jeffrey A. Liskov must pay a $1.78M judgment for using a foreign currency exchange trading scam to defraud clients. The Securities and Exchange Commission contends that Liskov fraudulently got several of his investment advisory clients to liquidate securities investments and place the money in forex trading. While EagleEye and Liskov made about $300,000 in performance fees, their clients allegedly lost $4M.

Liskov is accused of perpetuating the investment adviser fraud by issuing material misrepresentations about forex investments, their risks, and his track record. Also per the SEC’s complaint, Liskov more than once took old forms that advisory clients had signed and changed the dates, asset transfer amounts, and other information, and, without their knowledge, opened forex trading accounts.

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