June 25, 2013 — The U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) makes it costly for businesses that consider bribery to be a routine expense when conducting business overseas. Under the FCPA, businesses are forbidden to transfer anything of value to foreign officials or their family members as a means of securing contracts. When company insiders uncover illegal bribery schemes, they should not be expected to look the other way while their employers break the law. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act) of 2010 provides for substantial rewards to whistleblowers who notify the government about FCPA violations.
Possible Bribery Probe into Kazakhstan Joint Venture
LyondellBasell, a chemical company that sought bankruptcy protection last year, may be subjected to an FCPA investigation after disclosing to prosecutors that the company made a $7 million payment two years ago to someone connected to SAT & Co., a Kazakh company. According to Bloomberg, the sizable payment may not have been in compliance with LyondellBasell’s mandatory approval process.
In a December 2012 bankruptcy court filing, LyondellBasell disclosed that it had discovered activities related to a joint venture that could have violated certain U.S. laws. In March 2013, the company released further information that the joint venture at issue was in Kazakhstan and that the U.S. law that may have been violated is the FCPA. LyondellBasell, one of the world’s largest producers of fuels, polymers and petrochemicals, has retained legal counsel to investigate the matter.
The company, which reportedly plans to emerge from bankruptcy later this year, announced in February that it intends to withdraw from the Kazakhstan joint venture involved in the ongoing internal FCPA investigation.
Tipsters Collaborate With SEC on FCPA Violations
It takes a lot of courage to report a supervisor or co-worker involved in an illegal foreign bribery operation. In recognition of that bravery, the Dodd-Frank Act provides important rights and protections for conscientious informants. At Waters & Kraus, our whistleblower lawyers are dedicated to protecting tipsters willing to collaborate with the government. Contact us by email or phone our FCPA attorneys at 800.226.9880 to discuss how we can advance your interests.