May 9, 2014 — One purpose underlying the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) is to foster an even playing field for businesses around the globe so that honest competition can thrive. To deal with the inequity caused by corporations willing to bribe foreign government officials as a way to obtain business, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 created a whistleblower program. Tipsters who notify the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) about FCPA violations may receive significant rewards when the government makes a recovery.
Qualcomm May Have Made Illegal Gifts to Individuals Connected to State-Owned Companies or Agencies In China
Qualcomm, the California digital telecommunications maker, disclosed in a recently filed Form 10-Q that it has received a Wells Notice from the SEC, informing the company of the SEC’s preliminary determination to bring an FCPA enforcement action alleging violations of the statute’s anti-bribery, books and records, and internal control provisions. The allegations of foreign bribery reportedly involve benefits offered to or conferred upon individuals connected to state-owned companies or agencies in China.
A Wells Notice is often a company’s first notice that it has become the target of an SEC investigation. The written notice comes from the SEC’s Division of Enforcement to alert the company that it may face charges.
Qualcomm learned in January 2012 that the U.S. Department of Justice had begun a probe into possible FCPA violations. This led Qualcomm’s audit committee to enlist the help of independent counsel and forensic accountants to review the company’s policies and procedures concerning the FCPA. The internal review revealed that Qualcomm hired employees and conferred other benefits on several people associated with state-owned businesses or agencies in China.
The SEC’s Wells Notice suggested that Qualcomm may be expected to disgorge profits as well as pay civil penalties and prejudgment interest.
Qualcomm filed a Wells submission in response, alleging that it has committed no FCPA violations and arguing that no enforcement action is necessary.
Informants Tip Off SEC to Foreign Bribery Operations
The qui tam lawyers at Waters & Kraus enjoy a successful track record for their representation of whistleblowers willing to collaborate with the government. We understand that when jobs are scarce, it’s particularly difficult to blow the whistle on an employer’s FCPA violations. Our experienced lawyers are committed to safeguarding their clients’ interests during the process. Contact us by email or call our FCPA attorneys at 855.784.0268 when you’re ready to team up against illegal foreign bribery.