Background

A U.S. company has agreed to pay a $135 million criminal penalty to resolve charges that it violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by bribing officials in Brazil, Ecuador, and Mexico, the Department of Justice reports.

According to a DOJ press release, between 2005 and 2014 the company and its co-conspirators paid more than $8 million in bribes to at least four officials at a Brazilian state-owned and -controlled company in exchange for receiving confidential pricing and competitor information. The company concealed this scheme by using intermediaries and a fictitious company that facilitated the payments to offshore accounts and, ultimately, to the officials. In addition, from 2011 to 2014 the company bribed at least five other officials in exchange for receiving confidential pricing information that it used to win contracts.

The company also admitted that between 2015 and July 2020 it agreed to pay more than $2 million in bribes to officials in Ecuador and Mexico to obtain and retain business. The company and its co-conspirators entered into sham consulting agreements, set up shell companies, created fake invoices for purported consulting services, and used alias email accounts to transfer funds to offshore companies involved in the conspiracy, all while knowing that the funds would be used to pay the bribes.

Under a deferred prosecution agreement, the DOJ will credit $45 million of the criminal penalty against the amount the company will pay to resolve a related investigation by Brazilian authorities. The DPA also provides that the company will (1) continue to cooperate with the DOJ in any ongoing investigations and prosecutions relating to the bribery at issue, including of individuals, (2) enhance its compliance programs, and (3) report to the DOJ on the implementation of those programs.

Finally, the company agreed to disgorge more than $12.7 million to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and pay the CFTC a $16 million penalty related to trading activity not covered by the DPA.

For more information on the FCPA, please contact Kristine Pirnia.

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