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U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

Public firms usually settle foreign bribery charges


USA Today

You’re the CEO of a global, publicly traded corporation. You’ve just learned that some employees may have bribed foreign government officials to help your business get contracts.

Now federal prosecutors and regulators want to see company records as part of an investigation under a law called the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

What do you do? In many cases, negotiate a settlement, pay a fine, and get back to business.

The scenario is a hot topic in corporate boardrooms in the wake of allegations by a former Wal-Mart official that company executives in Mexico paid millions of dollars to government officials there in a successful effort to speed the opening of new stores. The allegations, now under review by the company and federal investigators, were disclosed last month by The New York Times.

It’s not yet clear what, if anything, will come of the review. But records of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act cases show publicly traded companies are leery about going to trial against the government.

“The companies that actually fight the Justice Department or the Securities and Exchange Commission are pretty few and far between,” said Amy Conway-Hatcher, a former federal prosecutor who heads the Internal Investigation practice for the Kaye Scholer law firm in Washington, D.C. “You usually see corporate settlements arise out of this.” Read more.

Oracle’s Africa dealings come under FBI scrutiny


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Guardian

August 31, 2011

By Dominic Rushe

Allegations of bribery are understood to centre around software sales to government agencies in Western and Central Africa

US authorities are investigating allegations that executives working for software group Oracle paid African officials in violation of anti-bribery laws.

Agents at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the justice department had been investigating the claims for at least a year, the Wall Street Journal reported.

US financial watchdog the securities and exchange commission (SEC) is also looking at possible civil violations. The allegations are understood to centre on software sales to government agencies in western and central Africa. Law enforcement agencies are investigating whether Oracle or people working for the company made payments to government officials to secure contracts. Oracle did not return calls for comment.

Such payments would violate the foreign corrupt practices act (FCPA), which makes it a crime for US companies and their employees to offer or pay bribes to foreign government officials or employees of state-owned companies…Read more.

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