2015 might have been a slow year for the FCPA in terms of enforcement resolutions, but 2016 is already off to the races. Sciclone, SAP and PTC have already been settled. And now there is VimpelCom, one of the largest global settlements of bribery allegations worldwide as well as in the United States. Two other corporations (Mondelez and HSBC) also announced information about FCPA investigations proceeding recently, which we cover below.
The telecommunications company agreed to pay $795 million to the United States and the Netherlands. The settlement included payments of $167.5 million to the SEC and $230.1 million to the Justice Department. The payment to the U.S. is the sixth largest enforcement action on the list compiled by FCPA Blog. FCPA Blog also noted that the disgorgement payment to the SEC was the third biggest on record. The Justice Department is continuing to seek the forfeiture of $850 million located in Belgium, Luxembourg, Ireland and Switzerland which is traceable to bribe payments or the laundering of those payments.
Mondelez received a Wells Notice a few weeks ago for internal control and books & record accounting violations in conjunction with the suspected bribery of government officials in India over permissions for a Cadbury factory. A wells Notice is a preliminary determination that the SEC intends to proceed with an enforcement action. However, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis, the securities regulator still ends up not filing charges in approximately twenty percent of cases where staff recommend an action.
The FCPA investigation by the SEC into hiring practices at financial institutions has moved on to a new bank, with HSBC Holdings reporting it is the target of an investigation into its employment of individuals referred by government officials or employees of state-owned enterprises. JP Morgan is one of the other banks targeted in this investigation, with BNY Mellon already settling charges for a payment of $15 million.