Welcome to This Week In Compliance: GAN’s weekly news roundup, where we curate the latest stories on compliance and anti-corruption to keep you informed. This week’s roundup includes the passage of the new American Corporate Transparency Act. Read the full story and more news below:
Corporate Transparency Act Becomes Law:
On January 1st, 2021, the U.S. Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, enshrining new anti-money laundering measures under the bill’s Corporate Transparency Act (CTA). The new standard will ban the use of anonymous shell companies by requiring companies to provide beneficial ownership information to U.S. authorities. The U.S. Treasury Department is expected to issue detailed regulations on how companies can comply with the new rules within the next year. Companies will have up to two years to comply after the law is in place. The new defense bill also includes a new whistleblower program that would grant awards for successful enforcement actions that exceed USD 1M.
Boeing To Pay USD 2.5 B in 737 MAX Case:
Boeing Co. settled criminal charges with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for USD 2.5B. The airplane maker admitted to deceiving aviation regulators on safety issues in the 737 MAX aircraft that led to two fatal accidents in 2017. Boeing admitted pilots provided incomplete and inaccurate information on the planes to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. Under the settlement, the planemaker will pay USD 244M as a fine and 2.3 B in compensation to the families of those deceased in the crashes. The DOJ also charged Boeing with one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S.; however, the company avoided prosecution by agreeing to avoid legal trouble within the next three years and ramp up compliance efforts.
U.S. and Denmark Drop Danske Bank Charges:
U.S. and Danish authorities announced dropping criminal charges against Danske Bank for money laundering in its Estonia branch in 2017. Danish prosecutors said they would drop charges against six former Danske employees involved in the scandal as they concluded there was no evidence of negligence to Danish AML laws. In the U.S., the Treasury Department ended a sanctions investigation against the bank, concluding that the bank did not breach U.S. sanctions in the Estonia case. While authorities cleared these charges, Danske Bank remains under investigation by criminal and regulatory agencies in the U.S., Denmark, and France.
France to Investigate Carlos Ghosn in Lebanon:
A year after former Nissan executive Carlos Ghosn fled to Lebanon to escape corruption charges brought about by Japanese law enforcement agencies, , Lebanese authorities initiated a joint investigation with France into Ghosn. Japanese authorities accused the former executive of misappropriating company assets by failing to disclose his compensation, as well as for breach of trust. While Ghosn denied all allegations, it is believed that Japan’s 99% conviction rate prompted the executive to escape house arrest in 2019. Ghosn, a French-Lebanese-Brazilian citizen, is facing money laundering charges in France and will be questioned in a joint Lebanese-French investigation next month.
Odebrecht Fined USD 50M in Colombia:
In a move that marks the continuation of a long-running legal saga and an increase in cross-country collaboration in anti-corruption enforcement in Latin America, Colombian authorities charged Brazilian construction conglomerate Odebrecht with corruption. Colombian authorities fined Odebrecht 50M and determined that the company diverted resources from a contract with the government for a highway. The investigation was part of a 2016 plea deal reached between the U.S. Department of Justice and Odebrecht.
China Sentences Former Finance Executive to Death Over Bribery:
Chinese authorities handed Lai Xiaomin, the former chairman of Huarong Asset Management, a death penalty after finding him guilty of receiving USD 277M in bribes. In one of the most severe sentences handed down during President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption crusade, the executive had reportedly received bribes from 2008 to 2018. According to legal analysts, it is rare that corporate bribery cases result in the death penalty, which has, in turn, sparked public outrage.
Corruption Indictment Against Netanyahu Unveiled:
In Israel, public prosecutors unveiled an indictment against Prime Minister Netanyahu in a corruption case where he stands accused of trading favors with a media mogul for favorable media coverage. The indictment details 150 instances in which Netanyahu was involved in requesting positive media coverage. The PM was due to appear in court in the first week of January, but the hearing has been postponed due to a newly tightened coronavirus lockdown.
El Salvador Ex-President to Repay USD 4.4 M for Corruption:
Elias Antonio Saca and Ana Ligia de Saca, former President and First Lady of El Salvador, were charged for illicit enrichment. A Salvadoran court ordered the politician to pay USD 4.4M back from public funds divestitures and bans Saca from running for office for the next ten years. Saca, who ran the Central-American nation from 2004 to 2009, admitted to having stolen USD 260M from state funds in 2018.