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Michael Gilbert is a partner in the Governmental Practice in the firm's New York office.

Just one day after Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco announced the U.S. Department of Justice’s (“DOJ’s” or “Department’s”) whistleblower pilot program on March 8, 2024, the DOJ’s Criminal Division highlighted its plans to apply the program in its fight against global corruption. Specifically, the Criminal Division described its plan to apply the new whistleblower initiatives to Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) cases as part of its overarching priority of targeting the “most complex financial crimes and having the greatest possible impact on corporate conduct.”[1]Continue Reading DOJ Plans to Apply the New Whistleblower Rewards Pilot Program to FCPA Cases

The United States Department of the Treasury has announced that it is working to address what it perceives as money laundering risks associated with investment advisers. Specifically, the agency asserts that absent consistent and comprehensive anti-money laundering (“AML”) and countering the financing of terrorism (“CFT”) obligations, corrupt officials and other illicit actors may invest ill-gotten gains in the U.S. financial system through hedge funds and private equity firms. Treasury indicated its intention to issue a proposal in the first quarter of 2024 that would apply Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”) AML/CFT requirements, including suspicious activity report obligations, to certain investment advisers. Continue Reading Treasury Announces Renewed Push for Investment Adviser AML Rules in Q1 2024

On December 13, 2023, CoinList Markets LLC (“CoinList”) agreed to pay $1,207,830 pursuant to a settlement agreement with the Office of Foreign Assets Controls (“OFAC”) in connection with allegations that the San Francisco based virtual currency exchange violated OFAC’s Russia/Ukraine sanctions by allowing users in Crimea, an embargoed country, to open accounts on its platform.Continue Reading Sanctions Enforcement in the Cryptocurrency Industry Continues to be a Focus

On December 14, 2023, with bipartisan support, Congress passed the Foreign Extortion Prevention Act (“FEPA”), making it a federal crime for any foreign government official to demand, receive, or agree to receive a bribe from a U.S. company or individual, or any person while in United States territory in exchange or in connection with obtaining or retaining business. The legislation is part of the National Defense Authorization Act, and is anticipated to be signed into law by President Biden. Considered by the law’s authors to be one of “the most sweeping and consequential foreign bribery laws in nearly half a century,” FEPA has “the potential to help root out foreign corruption at its source.”[1]Continue Reading Corrupt Foreign Leaders Now on the Hook for Bribery Charges: Congress Passes the Foreign Extortion Prevention Act

Written by Paul Desmond in the key of E-flat minor and performed by the Dave Brubeck Quartet using a funky quintuple (5/4) time, “Take Five” is and was the biggest selling jazz single of all time. But it is also slang for exercising one’s Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. Because many civil lawyers ask when and how to invoke the privilege, we thought we would take a stab at answering some of the not-so-obvious questions that often arise.Continue Reading “Take Five” – A Guide to Invoking the Fifth Amendment in Civil Cases

The U.S. authorities are increasingly taking actions against big-name crypto mixers for potential violations of sanctions regulations. On November 29, 2023, the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) sanctioned Sinbad.io (“Sinbad”), which is a virtual currency mixer. As a result, U.S. persons are generally prohibited from dealings involving Sinbad or its property interests. Virtual currency mixers are anonymized software tools that allow users to conceal the source or owner of digital assets.Continue Reading OFAC Sanctions Crypto Mixer Following Allegations of Laundering Funds to North Korea

Last week, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced it declined to prosecute Lifecore, a U.S. biomedical company, after Lifecore voluntarily disclosed that a company it acquired paid bribes to Mexican officials and falsified documents both before and after Lifecore’s acquisition.[1] Continue Reading Voluntary Self-Disclosure of FCPA Violations Following Acquisition Avoids Corruption Charges

On September 29, 2023, Albemarle Corporation (“Albemarle”), a global chemical manufacturer, reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) to resolve investigations into violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”). This settlement is the culmination of a five-year investigation stemming from bribe payments made by Albemarle’s third-party sales representatives and employees of a subsidiary to government officials in Vietnam, Indonesia, and India to obtain government contracts in the chemical catalyst business between 2009 and 2017.Continue Reading Albermarle Agrees to Pay $218 Million to Settle Foreign Bribery Probe

Over the last several years, the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) have been laser-focused on the use of so called “off-channel communications” in the financial services industry. On the theory that employees’ use of personal devices to communicate about business matters violates the “books and records” rules as these communications are not saved in company systems, regulators have conducted intrusive and extensive investigations requiring employees to turn over their personal devices for review. SEC Chairperson Gary Gensler recently stated that “bookkeeping sweeps are ongoing,” having resulted in well over $1 billion in fines so far. While the first round of investigations focused on the large banks, this “sweep” has since spread to hedge funds, credit rating agencies, online banking platforms, and now, to regional banks.Continue Reading SEC Off-Channel Communications Sweep

Over the last year, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) has been laser-focused on the use of personal devices by employees of the large Wall Street banks to conduct company business. The SEC’s investigations have focused on whether the banks complied with the “books and records” requirement that they preserve all communications that relate to Company business. The SEC has asserted that certain “off-channel” business communications not captured in company systems run afoul of this basic record keeping requirement. Not surprisingly, during the pandemic and with the increase in remote work, the SEC has determined that violations have been widespread. Continue Reading SEC Shifts Focus on Employees’ Off-Channel Business Communications to Investment Advisers