The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals has ordered the government to respond to a request for a rehearing filed by Frederic Bourke, the Dooney & Bourke co-founder convicted in 2009 for conspiring to violate the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The government alleged that Bourke participated in a scheme to bribe government officials in Azerbaijan in an unsuccessful attempt to take over that country’s state oil company. For his alleged participation in the James Bond-like bribery plot, Bourke was sentenced to a year in prison.
In December, the Second Circuit (the appellate court for federal cases filed in New York), affirmed Bourke’s 2009 conviction, holding that the evidence was sufficient to prove that Bourke was aware of the bribery scheme or intentionally hid his head in the sand to avoid learning about it. But in January, Bourke asked for all the judges on the court to review the case and the court has now ordered the government to weigh in on that request. If the court intended not to rehear the case, then it would have been unnecessary to ask for the government’s response. It’s a good sign for Bourke.
The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act is intended to prevent individuals and companies from bribing foreign officials or foreign political candidates for the purpose of securing influence, favors or advantage. The Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission both have jurisdiction in FCPA cases with regard to any publicly-traded company. The Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 includes a provision to reward whistleblowers who help the SEC uncover violations of the FCPA like those of which Frederic Bourke was convicted. Under the Dodd-Frank Act, an eligible whistleblower is entitled to share in any fines received by the government as a result of FCPA violations. The whistleblower’s share of the recovery runs from ten percent to thirty percent.
As in False Claims Act cases, it takes great courage to come forward in an FCPA case. The parties involved in foreign bribery schemes are often powerful and a lot of money may be at stake. That’s why the government has encouraged people to do the right thing by offering a substantial financial incentive.
Waters & Kraus is a national firm with highly skilled lawyers practicing qui tam and FCPA litigation in four offices, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas and Baltimore. Our attorneys have decades of experience successfully representing whistleblowers in a variety of fraud cases. Contact us to learn more about our practice and how we can assist.