ICBC accused of money-laundering in Spain, VimpelCom settles bribery probe for $795m, PTC resolves FCPA violations, and more
- Directors from the Spanish branch of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) were arrested in a money-laundering investigation. The bank is accused of helping criminal groups launder €40m earned through smuggling, tax fraud and exploitation of workers. The bank transferred the money to China without enquiring about its origin.
- VimpelCom agreed to a $795m settlement with US and Dutch authorities in a FCPA bribery probe. The Amsterdam-based telecommunications company was accused of paying over $114m to a relative of the Uzbek president in exchange for mobile licenses.
- US technology firm PTC entered into a $28m non-prosecution agreement with the DOJ and SEC to resolve allegations of foreign bribery. It admitted to arranging recreational travels for Chinese officials for more than $1m. At the same time, the company obtained contracts worth $13m from the Chinese entities.
And finally, Elisabeth Danon argues on the FCPA Blog that the deferred prosecution agreement reached at the end of last year between the UK Serious Fraud Office and ICBC marks a 'turning point in the enforcement history of the UK Bribery Act'. While DPAs and non-prosecution agreements have been common in the US for years, other countries have been reluctant to use them. Contrary to the US, for a DPA in the UK to be approved, the court must conclude that it is fair, reasonable and proportionate, and prosecutors need to follow strict guidelines to determine the fine imposed. The blog argues that this makes them a better model for countries that are reluctant to follow the US model because of a perceived lack of transparency on how fines are determined and a weak judicial review.