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 we cover the DOJ’s decision to drop its probe into Uber over potential FCPA violations. Keep reading for this breaking story and find more news below:
DOJ drops Uber FCPA probe
The U.S. Department of Justice closed an inquiry into whether ride-sharing company Uber violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by offering bribes to foreign government officials. The investigation was first reported on by the Wall Street Journal in 2017 and focused on allegations of improper payments made in Indonesia, Malaysia, China, and India. The closure of the probe comes right as Uber is completing its acquisition of Middle Eastern ride-share competitor Careem.
Ghosn ‘hid in musical instrument case’ during escape from Japan
The former CEO of Nissan, Carlos Ghosn, who was released on a strict bail agreement by Japanese authorities after having been accused of corruption, fled his residence in Japan at the end of 2019. Ghosn allegedly escaped with the help of a group of Gregorian musicians, ex-special forces officers and his wife, who helped him slip into a large instrument case after the musicians had finished performing in his Japanese home. After Ghosn slipped into the case, he was allegedly taken to a local airport and flown to Lebanon where he holds citizenship and is not subjected to extradition, meaning it is highly unlikely he will be forced to return to Japan. While Japanese authorities who were monitoring the residence 24 hours do not have any record of him leaving the country, Ghosn’s legal team has stated they were surprised to see the news on TV. Ghosn has been accused of corruption-related charges including accepting gifts worth more than USD 8.6 million and understating his salary on financial statements.
Goldman Sachs Close to 1MDB Deal with U.S., but Malaysia Still Suing
Malaysia’s state prosecutor announced plans to bring Goldman Sachs executives to court given their role in the 1MDB corruption fund scandal. The investment bank is trying to reach a settlement with US authorities for USD 2 billion. Across the globe, Malaysian state prosecutors have had two or three negotiation rounds with the bank and Malaysia’s Attorney General has stated that the country is preparing for trial. The trial will allegedly seek compensation for the value of the bonds Goldman arranged for 1MDB, plus interest, amounting to around USD 8 billion.
Exxon Wins Rare Reprieve From U.S. Sanctions Fine
Exxon Mobil Corp. was exonerated from paying a fine it received in 2017 for violating U.S sanctions on Russia. The fine, which amounted to USD 2 million, was imposed on Exxon after they struck contracts with Russian state-owned oil firm PAO Rosneft. Even though Rosneft was not on the U.S. sanction list, the contracts were signed by the company’s CEO, who was. Reportedly, the ambiguity of OFAC’s guidance on blacklisted individuals with ties to nonblacklisted companies was the main cause for waiving the fine. According to the latest judgment, OFAC failed to give Exxon proper notice on its interpretation of the violated sanctions – and thus, their executive order was found to be given under unfair notice.
Tencent fired more than 60 employees over bribery and corruption in 2019
Chinese social media giant, Tencent, said it fired over 60 employees during the first three quarters of 2019 over allegations of corruption and bribery. Reportedly, the company ran 40 internal investigations in the past 9 months involving corruption, misappropriation, and bribery. The wrongdoings reportedly occurred in different parts of the business including tech and engineering, as well as cloud and smart industries. 10 of them were handed to the authorities for violation of the law. Tencent, China’s leading social network and online games company, has also blacklisted 16 other companies involved in alleged corrupt behavior and announced they will no longer engage in business with them.
Embarrassing revelations about Boeing corporate culture in 737 MAX probe
The New York Times reported on Thursday that Boeing employees mocked federal rules, talked about deceiving regulatory agencies, and joked about potential flaws in the design of the 737 MAX as it was being developed. The damning material was contained in a communication of hundreds of pages submitted by the airplane builder to congressional investigators. Among other things, employees discussed concealing software problems and other issues with Max simulators from the Federal Aviation Administration (F.A.A.). In one instance, a Boeing employee mocked fellow employees and questioned the design of the airplane, saying: “This airplane is designed by clowns, who are in turn supervised by monkeys.” Boeing expressed regret about the content of the messages and apologized to the F.A.A., Congress, airline customers, and the flying public.
Netanyahu to seek immunity in three corruption cases
After having been charged for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three different cases, Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu announced he will seek immunity from criminal prosecution. Netanyahu was accused of accepting valuable gifts from friends and of exchanging favorable press coverage for promoting favorable regulations that benefited Israeli telecom company Bezeq. Israeli law states that any PM or member of the Knesset – Israel’s national assembly, is entitled to ask for immunity.
Graft trial date set for former French President Sarkozy
A trial date has been set for former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, who stands accused of attempting in 2014 to obtain information from a senior magistrate at the Court of Cassation about a wiretapping investigation the authorities had launched over suspicions that Sarkozy’s 2007 presidential campaign was financed by late Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi. It is alleged that Sarkozy offered the senior magistrate a promotion in Monaco in exchange. The trial date is set for October 5th and the trial is scheduled to conclude on October 22nd. The trial will not be the only one as there are other pending corruption charges against the former president.