This Week in Compliance

This Week in Compliance: Huawei Target Of U.S. Trade Secret Criminal Probe

Business

  • Huawei target of U.S. criminal probe into trade secret theft: Bloomberg reported this week that U.S. federal authorities are investigating Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies Co. for allegedly stealing trade secrets from U.S. partner companies including T-Mobile US Inc. The probe is tied to civil suits filed against Huawei, including a case in which a federal jury found Huawei liable for theft of T-Mobile’s robotic technology in 2017. An indictment could be made soon, according to people familiar with the matter. Huawei has been facing pressure lately; its CFO faces fraud charges in the U.S. and U.S. authorities have warned allies of cybersecurity risks when using the company’s telecommunications equipment.
  • Bertling executives sentenced but spared prison: Three executives of Germany-headquartered FH Bertling Group, who had previously pleaded guilty to paying around USD 445,000 in bribes to help the company win freight forwarding contracts with ConocoPhillips worth USD 20 million, were sentenced this week. All three were sentenced to prison sentences, but since the sentences were suspended they will not have to go to prison. The suspended sentences range between nine month and 18 months. So far, the Serious Fraud Office has charged thirteen individuals in connection to the investigation, of whom nine were convicted and four have been acquitted.
  • Deutsche Bank start internal probe into money-laundering allegations: Deutsche Bank has launched an investigation into its role as a correspondent bank for Danske Bank’s scandal-plagued Estonian unit. So far, evidence of wrongdoing has not been found. CEO Christian Sewing also indicated this week that it has revived its internal probe into the tax evasion scheme referred to as the Panama Papers. Scrutiny over the two cases increased in November and December last year as investors expressed concerns over potential future legal bills.

Government

  • France investigates president of Japan’s Olympic Committee for corruptionA French judicial source said this week that Tsunekazu Takeda, the president of Japan’s Olympic Committee, is under formal investigation in France for suspected corruption in relation to Japan’s successful bid for the 2020 Olympic Games. Prosecutors in France are investigating a multi-million dollar payment made by Japan’s bidding committee to a Singaporean consultancy. Takeda was questioned and placed under formal investigation on December 10th, according to Reuters. The International Olympic Committee said its ethics committee has opened a case but said that Takeda “Continues to enjoy the full presumption of innocence”.
  • ‘El Chapo’ reportedly paid ex-Mexican president USD 100 million in bribesA witness testified in Brooklyn federal courts this week that accused Mexican drug lord Joaquin Guzman, better known as “El Chapo”, once paid a bribe of USD 100 million to former Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. The witness, Alex Cifuentes, has described himself as Guzman’s right-hand man at one time, had told authorities in 2016 that Guzman had arranged the bribe. Pena Nieto has previously denied bribe-taking and this former chief of staff rejected the accusation on social media. Cifuentes testified that Pena Nieto initially reached out to Guzman asking for USD 250 million. The bribe was supposedly paid when Pena Nieto was president-elect in October 2012.
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