Financial Regulatory Forum

Wal-Mart bribery scandal seen undermining effort to soften U.S. anti-corruption statute

By Brett Wolf

ST. LOUIS, May 2 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) – News that Wal-Mart may have tried to cover up bribes paid by its Mexico unit will make it difficult for Congress to weaken an anti-bribery statute loathed by the U.S. business community, at least in the short term, sources say.

“My conclusion is that the Wal-Mart article makes it impossible to change the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act at the moment,” said Peter Henning, a professor at Wayne State University Law School. (more…)

Canada’s Anti-Bribery Cops Reel One In

By John Mackie

TORONTO, July 22 (Business Law Currents) – Though Canada has had foreign bribery legislation in effect for over a decade, prosecutions have proven very few and very far between. So it remains to be seen whether the recent guilty plea by Calgary’s Niko Resources under Canada’s Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act marks a scaling-up of Canadian efforts on this front, or just another blip on the radar screen.

Canada’s Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act (CFPOA) entered into force on February 14, 1999. The Act contemplates prosecutions in respect of three offences: bribing a foreign public official, laundering property and proceeds, and possession of property and proceeds. In addition, the CFPOA enables prosecutions for conspiracy, aiding and abetting, counselling, and the like.

One aspect of the CFPOA that has attracted criticism from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and Transparency International is that there must be a “real and substantial link” between the offence and Canada. While a bill has been introduced to eliminate this requirement, it has not passed into law, and arguably remains a significant barrier to investigations.

ANALYSIS-Cocktails and wiretaps signal new anti-bribery era

By Dan Margolies

WASHINGTON, April 5 (Reuters) – When 17 employees of a dozen or so small and mid-size companies gathered for a cocktail reception last year at Clyde’s restaurant in Washington, D.C., they toasted what they thought was the imminent completion of a $15 million arms deal to outfit the presidential guard of an African country.

Unbeknownst to them, FBI agents were secretly videotaping the meeting. To nail down the deal, the employees had allegedly agreed to pay 20 percent “commissions” to a sales agent they thought represented the African country’s defense minister. The sales agent turned out to be an undercover FBI agent.

The mid- and senior-level managers were among 21 individuals arrested on Jan. 17 at a shooting and hunting trade show in Las Vegas, where they had gathered to meet the mythical defense minister. Simultaneously, 150 FBI agents fanned out across the country to execute search warrants at the employees’ companies.

China indicts Rio staff for bribery, commercial secrets

By Ben Blanchard and Chris Buckley

BEIJING, Feb 10 (Reuters) – China has indicted four employees of Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto on charges of bribery and stealing business secrets, setting the stage for a trial in the case that has jangled investor nerves.

The four who are set to stand trial in Shanghai include Australian citizen Stern Hu, state news agency Xinhua said on Wednesday.

If found guilty, they could face up to seven years in jail on the commercial secrets charge, and up to 20 years on the bribery charge, said Zhang Peihong, a lawyer for one of the accused Chinese nationals.