For such a high-profile federal law, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act doesn’t make it to court much. In fact, most years go by without a single trial involving the FCPA. That’s because typical defendants would rather cut a deal with prosecutors instead of risking a guilty verdict that might carry a five-year jail term. By some strange coincidence, however, there could soon be as many as three FCPA trials all happening at once. Not long ago, we’d have put the odds of seeing that at zero (which is why we don’t gamble). The trials might not happen, but as of today there’s a chance, at least, that some or all of them will go forward. Here’s the situation:
U.S. v. Kozeny, Southern District of New York (Manhattan). The defendant is Frederic Bourke, 62, owner of the luxury handbag brand Dooney & Bourke. He was indicted in May 2005 with Victor Kozeny and David Pinkerton over an alleged plot to bribe officials from Azerbaijan. Kozeny is in the Bahamas fighting extradition and Pinkerton has been dismissed from the case, leaving Bourke to fight the FCPA charges on his own. He and the federal prosecutors are gearing up for trial. Last month Judge Shira A. Scheindlin issued an opinion and order refusing Bourke’s request for a jury instruction on the FCPA’s local law affirmative defense.
U.S. v. Green, Central District of California (Los Angeles). The defendants are Hollywood movie producers Gerald Green, 75, and his wife Patricia Green, 52. They were arrested in December 2007. They’re accused of paying more than $1.8 million in bribes to a former governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand in return for contracts worth more than $14 million. A superseding indictment last month added allegations that Mrs. Green filed two false tax returns in 2005 and 2006 that included deductions for “commissions” which she knew were “bribes to a foreign official for obtaining and retaining business.” Their trial was first scheduled to begin in early 2008 and has been postponed a couple of times.
U.S. v. Jefferson, Eastern District of Virginia (Alexandria). The defendant is Rep. William Jefferson, 61, (D-La.), a Congressman since 1991 from a district that includes New Orleans. He was indicted in June 2007 by a federal grand jury for violating the anti-bribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. He was also charged with soliciting and accepting bribes, wire fraud, money laundering and obstruction of justice. Prosecutors allege that in August 2005, Rep. Jefferson hid $90,000 in the freezer at his Washington home. It was part of $100,000 provided by the government’s cooperating witness and intended to be used to bribe a Nigerian official. Rep. Jefferson had been scheduled to go on trial next month, but that’s not likely to happen. He has asked the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va. to dismiss all charges except for one count of violating the FCPA and another of obstruction of justice. Last Tuesday, Rep. Jefferson won a primary runoff election in his district and is favored to win re-election on Dec. 6, according to CG Politics.
We’d like to report news from the trials if and when they begin. To do that, though, we’ll need help. If anyone is willing and able to send us dispatches from time to time from the courtrooms (including news about the prelims now taking place), please drop us a note here. We can post reports with or without attribution, and we’ll also take responsibility for editing. So news can be sent in raw form, of any length and frequency.
We could close now with something from a recruiting poster, like: Don’t just read about FCPA history, be a part of it. Drop us a line today. And you know, that actually sounds pretty good. So consider it said.