February 21, 2014 — The U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) makes it a crime for multinational businesses to boost revenue abroad with illegal pay-offs to foreign government officials. When companies resort to foreign bribery to secure contracts overseas, they create an unsteady marketplace that places honest competitors at an unfair disadvantage. To tackle the problem, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 created a whistleblower program that provides meaningful rewards for informants who notify the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) about foreign bribery allegations.
Financial Entities Suspected of Foreign Bribery Payments to Libyan Government Officials
In 2011, the SEC launched a probe into Goldman Sachs’ conduct in Libya to determine whether the firm had engaged in illegal foreign bribery in violation of the FCPA. The investigation first expanded to include a number of banks, hedge funds and private-equity firms. Now the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has joined in the civil probe.
According to Compliance Weekly, federal authorities are focusing on JPMorgan Chase, Credit Suisse Group, hedge fund Och-Ziff Capital and Blackstone Group, a private equity firm. In particular, the government is honing in on payments to “fixers,” a group of middlemen who conduct operations in the Middle East as well as in England and other nations. The fixers are alleged to have been paid a finder’s fee, to be used as a bribery payment from the financial entities to Libyan officials as a means of securing business in Libya. Investigators are said to be looking into the size of the fees and the fixers’ relationships to the parties involved.
Whistleblowers Tip Off SEC and DOJ to Foreign Bribery Operations
Our qui tam lawyers have earned their reputation for their successful representation of relators in whistleblower litigation. We understand that it may be difficult to take the first step in notifying the SEC or DOJ about an employer’s FCPA violations. At Waters & Kraus, our whistleblower lawyers are devoted to protecting informants’ interests. Contact us by email or phone our FCPA lawyers at 855.784.0268 to learn how we can work together to fight illegal foreign bribery.