This Week in Compliance

This Week in Compliance: Fresenius Medical Care Pays USD 231 Million to Resolve FCPA Charges

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  • Fresenius Medical Care Pays USD 231 Million to Resolve FCPA Charges: The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) said last Friday that Germany-based dialysis clinic operator Fresenius Medical Care AG will pay approximately USD 231 million to resolve both civil and criminal allegations that the company paid bribes to public health and other government officials in several countries in efforts to gain or retain business. Fresenius admitted it failed to maintain proper internal accounting controls and that bribes were paid to officials in Angola and Saudi Arabia between 2007 and 2016. In total, the misconduct allegedly occurred in 13 countries. The DOJ declined to prosecute the company in exchange for a payment of approxiamtely USD 84,700,000. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) ordered the company to pay USD 147 million in disgorgement and prejudgment interest to settle the civil charges. The company received a high penalty despite self-reporting the issue, since responses to requests for information were not provided “timely” and some of the responses were not “fulsome”.

Business

  • Swedbank’s CEO fired amidst money laundering scandal:Swedbank’s CEO Birgitte Bonnesen was removed from the posts of CEO and president at Swedbank in the midst of a growing money laundering scandal involving the bank’s branches in various Baltic countries. The firing comes after Swedish broadcaster SVT ran a story alleging that a company used the bank to conceal bribes to Ukraine’s former president Viktor Yanukovych. It was also revealed that the company, Vega Holding, made payments to a UK-based company which was mentioned in the Paul Manafort affair. Swedbank’s offices in Stockholm were raided on Wednesday as part of an investigation into the bank’s operations.
  • Former CEO of Colombian banking conglomerate convicted in Odebrecht case: Jose Alias Melo, the former CEO of Colombian banking conglomerate Grupo Aval, was convicted for bribing government officials in the Odebrecht scandal. The court found that he played a role in the 2009 bribe of Gabriel Garcia, the former Vice-Transport Minister. The prosecution is asking for 11 years of imprisonment. Melo was found to have conspired with business partners from Brazilian engineering giant Odebrecht to bribe Garcia in order to obtain a contract to construct parts of the Ruta del Sol highway connecting Bogota to the Caribbean coast.
  • Two sentenced over German Eurofighter embezzlement: Two suspects that pled guilty to embezzlement charges in relation to the sale of Eurofighter jets to Austria received suspended jail terms from a Munich court late last week. The suspects were sentenced on charges of embezzlements and aiding and abetting embezzlement. Proceedings against other suspects have been halted as they have paid fines already or are facing charges in Austria. Eurofighter’s parent company Airbus was ordered to pay EUR 81.25 million to settle one of two investigations surrounding the sale of the Eurofighter jets to Austria in 2003.

Government

  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ousts two ministers from Liberal Party: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau removed two former ministers, whose accusations of political meddling in the SNC-Lavalin prosecution led to extensive scrutiny, from his Liberal Party this week. The move came after former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould released a secret recording last week. Trudeau said in a statement that “the trust that previously existed between these two individuals and our team has been broken”. Trudeau’s government has been damaged by allegations of political interference in the prosecution of engineering and construction giant SNC-Lavalin over corruption charges
  • Russia arrests former minister on embezzlement charges:Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) arrested Mikhail Abyzov, the former Minister for Open Government Affairs, who had held the post between 2012 and 2018. Abyzov and five accomplices stand accused of forming a criminal group which embezzled USD 62 million from the Siberian Energy Company and Regional Electric Grids. The money was subsequently transferred to an offshore company controlled by Abyzov. If found guilty, Abyzov faces up to 20 years in prison. In 2015, Abyzov was reportedly paid a USD 9 million salary. By the time he left office, his estimated net worth had reached USD 600 million, according to Forbes.
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