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Did Dennis Rodman violate the FCPA?

Among the more than $10,000 in gifts Dennis Rodman delivered to North Korea dictator Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang this month were “hundreds of dollars’ worth of Irish Jameson whiskey, European crystal, an Italian suit, a fur coat, and an English Mulberry handbag for Kim’s wife, Ri Sol-ju,” the Daily Beast said Friday.

The U.S. government is now investigating whether Rodman violated the law against importing luxury goods into North Korea. He probably did, experts told the Daily Beast.

But did Rodman also violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act?

The elements of an FCPA anti-bribery offense are simple: Don’t give or promise to give anything of value to a foreign official for the purpose of obtaining or retaining business or gaining an unfair advantage.

If Rodman is doing some kind of business in North Korea, then he could be prosecuted under the FCPA for giving “things of value” to the North Korea leader and his wife.

The U.S. Treasury and the State Department are investigating whether he violated the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, enacted by President Obama’s Executive Order 13551. The 2010 law makes it a criminal violation to import luxury goods into North Korea.

The Daily Beast said the federal investigation “has included the participation of the Department of Justice, which would be brought in to prosecute any violations.”

Will the DOJ also consider whether Rodman may have violated the FCPA?

The feds and press so far haven’t mentioned the FCPA in connection with Rodman’s adventures in basketball diplomacy.

He checked into an alcohol rehab facility in New Jersey after his most recent trip to North Korea, his agent Darren Prince said.

If the former basketball star didn’t have a license to import the luxury goods into North Korea, he could face up to 20 years in prison. FCPA anti-bribery violations are punishable by up to five years in jail.

“Dennis Rodman came back from North Korea in pretty rough shape emotionally,” Prince told the Daily Beast.

“The pressure that was put on him to be a combination ‘super human’ political figure and ‘fixer’ got the better of him,” Prince said.


Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.

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