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 Volkswagen’s latest fine over the ‘Dieselgate’ scandal. Keep reading for this breaking story and find more news below:
Volkswagen Fined USD 31.6 Million In Poland Over ‘Dieselgate’
Volkswagen was slapped with a USD 31.6 million fine by Poland’s consumer watchdog UOKiK for misleading customers about the emissions from its vehicles. The agency’s president said the company included misleading information in its material that referred to the company’s pro-ecological attitude while in fact the cars were not environmentally friendly. The fine is only the latest in the saga that started after Volkswagen admitted in 2015 to cheating on U.S. emissions tests on its diesel engines. In total, the company has incurred costs of around EUR 30 billion in fines, legal costs, and vehicle refits since the scandal first broke.
France’s AFA Releases M&A Guidance
France’s Agence Française Anticorruption (AFA) released the final version of its practical guide on anti-corruption considerations in the process of mergers & acquisitions. The latest version takes into account the comments the agency received during its public consultation.
Former SNC-Lavalin Exec Sentenced to 8 Years of Imprisonment over Corruption
Former SNC-Lavalin executive Sami Bebawi received a sentence of eight years and six months of imprisonment late last Friday, thereby wrapping up the criminal charges brought against the engineering firm and key employees related to fraud and corruption in Libya. The sentence was closer to the top of the scale due to a number of aggravating circumstances, including the sophisticated nature of the fraud, the degree of premeditation and planning, and Bebawi’s behaviour after the crimes had been committed. SNC-Lavalin agreed to pay a USD 280 million fine to settle charges in relation to the case in late December 2019.
Former Air Cargo Exec Extradited to the U.S. over Price-Fixing Allegations
Maria Christina “Meta” Ullings, a Dutch national and former executive for airline Martinair Holland N.V. was extradited to the U.S. from Italy on charges of a price-fixing conspiracy following an indictment made nearly 10 years ago. Ullings was apprehended by Italian authorities in Sicily in July 2019. She was extradited on January 10th and made an initial appearance at the U.S. District Court on January 13th. Ullings is only the second foreign national to be extradited to the U.S. solely for antitrust charges.
Samsung Group Installs New Anti-Corruption Panel Amid Chief Trial
South Korea’s Samsung Group conglomerate announced late last week that it has appointed external experts to a new oversight panel aimed at stamping out criminal misconduct in the company. The move comes after a judge overseeing the trial of Samsung leader and heir Jay Y. Lee stands trial over bribery involving former president Park Guen-hye criticized the lack of effective compliance systems in the company. The panel will be led by Kim Ji-hyung, a former supreme court judge. Ji-hyung initially turned down the job over worries it would fail to make improvements and was merely a ploy to secure favorable court rulings, but he took the job after Lee guaranteed the panel’s autonomy. The panel will consist of seven people, most of them outside experts from legal circles and civic groups. Lee continues to face charges that he bribed a friend of former president Park to win favor with the government over succession planning at the conglomerate.
Trump Attempted to ‘Kill’ FCPA, New Book Alleges
Two Washington Post reporters recount in a new book that President Trump wanted to strike down the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, calling the ban on foreign bribery “so unfair” to American companies. The reports report that in the spring of 2017, Trump told his then secretary of state Mr. Tillerson that he wanted his help in scrapping the FCPA following the mention of a bribery allegation in an Oval Office meeting. Mr. Tillerson pointed out that Congress would need to be involved in an effort to strike down the law, but Trump told his senior policy advisor Stephen Miller to draft an executive action to repeal the law. Despite Trump’s attempts, the FCPA has continued to be strongly enforced over the last three years.
Uzbekistan’s Gulnara Karimova to Face New Corruption Trial
Uzbekistan’s Supreme Court put Gulnara Karimova, the eldest daughter of late Uzbek President Islam Karimov on trial for charges of extortion, embezzlement, and money laundering. The country’s office of the Prosecutor General announced earlier last week that they intend to seize more than USD 1.5 billion in foreign assets from Karimova. She had already been convicted twice in 2015 and 2017 for crimes ranging from “promoting a criminal gang” to embezzlement and extortion. The newest charges concern her allegedly illegal purchase of shares in two state-owned cement companies at a suspiciously low price before selling them abroad.