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 how new whistleblower rules will impact OSHA’s whistleblowing program. Read the full story and more news below:
New Whistleblower Rules Strengthen OSHA’s Investigative Reach:
Under the new 2020 Anti-Money Laundering Act and the Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act passed at the end of 2020, the US Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) will have a broader investigative role in whistleblowing cases. OSHA, which already manages a wide-ranging whistleblower protection program, announced on February 19th that the new laws will provide the agency with the power to investigate individual whistleblower’s retaliation complaints in both AML and antitrust cases; that includes retaliation from reporting misconduct and when assisting with related investigations. According to legal experts, considering the relatively broad application of the new whistleblower rules and more vigorous anti-retaliation enforcement, companies should step up compliance efforts by conducting additional training and auditing existing whistleblowing policies. The agency will release more specific guidance on how it will process retaliation associated with AML breaches and antitrust.
Samsung Heavy Settles Brazil Graft Probe for USD 149M:
South-Korea-based shipbuilder Samsung Heavy Industries settled a corruption investigation with Brazilian authorities for USD 140.56M (BRL 812M). The leniency deal was part of a joint negotiation between the company, U.S., and Brazilian authorities over contracts with Brazilian state-owned oil company Petrobras. According to the federal investigation, the shipbroker between Samsung Industries and Petrobras misappropriated some of the contract money for bribery purposes. Samsung Heavy Industries, which was charged for failing to detect bribery, committed to improving its compliance program and will be paying BRL 706M to Petrobras, and BRL 106M to the Brazilian government.
Ex-Privatbank CEO Suspect in USD 5.5BN Fraud Case:
Oleksandr Dubilet, former CEO of Privatbank, and Volodymyr Yatsenko, his former first deputy, were accused of being involved in a USD 5.5BN fraud case. Ukraine’s most prominent bank executives are suspects of embezzling USD 4.8M in 2016, the same year in which Privatbank was nationalized after a hole in its balance sheet was discovered. The former owners of the bank are also facing legal action from the government to recover embezzled money.
SEC Issues Three Whistleblower Awards for 12.3M:
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced three separate whistleblower awards worth more than USD 12.3M. In the latest order, issued on February 23rd, the agency announced they would give USD 9.3M to a whistleblower who provided crucial information that led to successful related enforcement action with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The whistleblower provided information that led to the return of a large amount of money to harmed investors in a fraud case prosecuted by the DOJ. In the other two orders announced on February 19th, USD 2.2M was awarded to a whistleblower who identified key documents and witnesses in an investigation, and another USD 700,000 was handed to someone who uncovered a fraudulent reporting scheme.
EU Updates Tax Haven Blacklist:
The European Union updated its tax haven blacklist of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes on February 22nd. The list, which was issued initially in 2017 and is updated twice per year, lists countries with legal systems that fail to prevent tax fraud, tax avoidance, and money laundering. The latest update did not significantly alter the list except for blacklisting Dominica and removing Barbados. However, the most important update was the issuance of an ultimatum to Turkey to fulfill its tax commitments.
Influential Latvian Politician Jailed for Corruption:
Aivars Lembergs, one of Latvia’s most influential politicians, was sentenced to five years in prison for corruption. Lembergs, who served as a mayor of the city of Ventspils since 1988, was convicted of bribery and money laundering. Several of his assets, including bank accounts, shares, and shell companies were also seized in the longest criminal trial in Latvia’s recent history. The oligarch, who stood as a candidate for Prime Minister on several occasions, denied all allegations. Aivars Lembergs has been under investigation since 2007.