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United States Department of Justice

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.

US: Judge Allows Rumsfeld Torture Suit to Proceed


Global Policy Forum

By Stephen C. Wester

The Raw Story

August 4th, 2011

A US District Court has allowed a lawsuit by a former US contractor against ex- Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfield. The contractor alleges that he was imprisoned unjustly and tortured by the US military in Iraq. Though a number of similar cases have been filed against Rumsfield, many have been rejected on “claims of immunity.” The Justice Department has argued that Rumsfield cannot be sued personally for conduct in his capacity as Secretary of Defense, and that judges cannot review Presidential or Congressional wartime decisions. However, US District Judge James Gwin rejected these arguments, stating that US citizens are protected by the constitution at home and abroad. This judgment comes as a stark reminder to the US that its own officials cannot escape accountability for breaches of human rights.

A lawsuit against former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, filed by an unnamed U.S. contractor who claims he was tortured by the military, will proceed to trial.

The decision made this week by U.S. District Judge James Gwin is especially important to civil liberties advocates, who’ve seen a number of torture suits against former U.S. officials shot down by claims of immunity.

In this case, originally filed in 2008, Judge Gwin considered a similar argument from the Obama administration: that a former official cannot be sued for their actions in any official capacity.

However, since the plaintiff in the matter is a U.S. citizen whose constitutional rights were allegedly trampled upon — and because Rumsfeld allegedly approved each individual harsh interrogation — the suit is being allowed to proceed.

The man, whose identity was withheld, is a translator in his 50s who helped U.S. Marines communicate with Iraqis. He claims he was abducted by U.S. military personnel in 2005 as he was due to return home from Iraq. Over the course of nine months he was allegedly beaten and interrogated about providing classified information to coalition enemies, then was released without explanation. He was never charged with a crime…Read more.

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