Thank you, Mike, for that kind introduction. It is an honor to be here and to participate in this conference on international business law. Mike and I met each other at an event I was speaking at in Sweden last May, and he planted the seed then of my coming to Minneapolis one day. I'm delighted, one year later, to be here with all of you.
It is my privilege to provide you this afternoon with some views from the U.S. Department of Justice on the topic of anti-corruption enforcement.
As Mike said, I am the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Criminal Division at the Department of Justice. Before I go into more detail about our specific enforcement efforts, allow me to provide you with some context. Federal criminal cases are handled both regionally and from Washington, D.C. The United States is divided into 94 federal judicial districts. And each district has a U.S. Attorney who is responsible for federal criminal prosecutions occurring in that district. Here in Minneapolis, for example, B. Todd Jones is your U.S. Attorney, and his jurisdiction extends to federal criminal cases throughout the state. Mr. Jones is widely recognized as an exceptional public servant and tremendous prosecutor, and you are lucky to have him as your U.S. Attorney here in Minnesota.
The Criminal Division, where I work, is based in Washington. We have nearly 600 lawyers in 16 different sections. These lawyers prosecute cases involving a very broad array of crimes – from insider trading to large-scale narcotics trafficking, to child exploitation, to cybercrime. And they also play a significant policy role, providing expertise and policy advice in virtually every significant area of federal criminal law.
With that as background, I want to get to the main point of my remarks today, namely, what the Justice Department is doing in the area of criminal enforcement to fight corruption at home and abroad.
I think of our anti-corruption efforts as falling into three principal buckets: number one is criminal prosecution; number two is assisting foreign countries to build up their judicial, prosecutorial, and investigative institutions; and number three is the pursuit, through civil actions, of the proceeds of foreign official corruption. I will discuss each of these buckets in turn.
First and foremost, the Criminal Division is a litigating operation. We investigate and prosecute cases. Our corruption prosecutions are of two kinds: we prosecute corruption by domestic officials, and we prosecute foreign bribery offenses under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or FCPA.
Regarding domestic corruption, together with law enforcement agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, we investigate misconduct among federal, state, and local officials, and the lawyers in our Public Integrity Section prosecute those cases.
So, for example, over the past several years, we have secured convictions of 19 individuals for their collective involvement in a wide-ranging corruption scheme on a U.S. Army base in Kuwait. Our investigation has focused on bribes paid by various businessmen to officials in the Army’s contracting office at Camp Arifjan for lucrative support contracts in connection with Operation Iraqi Freedom. The defendants have included a colonel, three lieutenant colonels, four majors, and other public officials for bribery and money laundering offenses.
As another example, last month, we announced charges against two individuals, including a former special agent in charge in the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, for allegedly falsifying internal investigative records, and obstructing an internal inspection of the McAllen, Texas, field office
Apart from our domestic corruption prosecutions, we have an incredibly strong team of prosecutors who focus exclusively on enforcing the FCPA. Depending upon how familiar you are with FCPA enforcement, you may know that the Criminal Division is the entity in the United States with primary responsibility for criminal enforcement of the Act. It is Justice Department policy that no FCPA prosecution can be brought without authorization from the Criminal Division, which distinguishes FCPA prosecutions from most other kinds of federal criminal cases. The Securities and Exchange Commission, which is a few blocks up the street from us, has primary responsibility for the Act’s civil enforcement.
Foreign bribery enforcement has for a long time been an important aspect of U.S. policy. The FCPA was enacted roughly 35 years ago, around the same time that our Public Integrity Section was created to focus on public corruption prosecutions, and it was the first effort of any nation to specifically criminalize the act of bribing foreign officials. The statute was enacted in the wake of the Watergate scandal, but it took more than 20 years for the Act to become a strong enforcement tool. And, over the past several years, the Justice Department has substantially increased its enforcement of the Act.
One important aspect of our FCPA enforcement involves, of course, our corporate resolutions. We have collected billions of dollars in criminal fines and penalties to resolve FCPA investigations against companies doing business abroad, including BizJet International Sales and Support Inc., a Lufthansa subsidiary; Alcatel-Lucent; Johnson & Johnson; and many others.
But another, critically important aspect of our enforcement regime involves holding individuals responsible for FCPA offenses. There is no greater deterrent to corporate crime than the prospect of prison time. As many have recognized, if people don’t go to prison, then enforcement can come to be seen as merely the cost of doing business. In the past four years, the Criminal Division’s FCPA Unit has obtained over three dozen criminal convictions of individuals, including of people who have been sentenced to as many as 15 years in prison.
We are as active today in this area as we have ever been. In the past month alone, we have announced charges against several key defendants in ongoing, active FCPA investigations. In mid-April, in a case that we are prosecuting with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan, we secured the arrest of a defendant in connection with an alleged bribery scheme to secure mining rights in the Republic of Guinea. In a separate case, which we are prosecuting with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Connecticut, we also secured the arrest last month of a defendant in connection with an alleged bribery scheme to secure power contracts in Indonesia. And just two days ago, together with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan, we announced charges against two broker-dealer employees and a senior Venezuelan banking official for engaging in a multi-million dollar bribery scheme.
In addition to our criminal prosecutions involving corruption at home and abroad, the Justice Department, working closely with the Department of State, places legal advisors and law enforcement professionals in countries around the world, to work with foreign prosecutors, judges, and police to develop and sustain effective criminal justice and law enforcement institutions. The point of these programs is to place advisors in countries that need – and, critically, that want – our assistance. From Colombia, to Kenya, to Indonesia, and many places in between, the Criminal Division has advisors assisting their host countries to build up their legal and law enforcement institutions.
As an example of this work, over an approximately eight-year period ending in 2012, a team of law enforcement specialists from the Criminal Division worked to establish a national prison system in Iraq. These efforts have been recognized as an important achievement of U.S. assistance efforts in Iraq, and have resulted in a corrections capability there that adheres to international human rights standards and supports a criminal justice system based on the rule of law.
As another example, in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia, after years of capacity-building efforts, assisting the country to develop an adversarial system of justice, the Georgians held their first-ever jury trial approximately 18 months ago.
To point out the obvious, this capacity-building work is often done at great personal sacrifice to those who do it. When stationed in dangerous parts of the world, many of our advisors must leave their families behind, as they put themselves in harm’s way. These individuals are public servants in the very best tradition of the United States.
Finally, I want to tell you about a relatively new Justice Department initiative. About three-and-a-half years ago, Attorney General Holder gave a speech in Qatar, at which he pledged to increase the United States’ commitment to recovering foreign corruption proceeds. Since that time, the Criminal Division has led the charge in developing what we refer to as the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative.
The initiative’s purpose is to identify the proceeds of foreign official corruption – in other words, the spoils – forfeit them through civil actions, and, to the extent possible, repatriate the forfeited funds for the benefit of the people harmed.
In most criminal prosecutions, a court can order forfeiture, upon conviction, as part of the defendant’s sentence. Often, however, it may be impractical or impossible to bring a criminal prosecution against a particular person – because that person is immune from prosecution, for example, beyond our jurisdiction, or otherwise unavailable. In these circumstances, we have begun bringing civil forfeiture actions to recover the stolen property.
We have brought several Kleptocracy cases in the past couple of years, and forfeited millions of dollars in corrupt proceeds. The most high-profile of our Kleptocracy cases to date involves two civil actions we have brought against approximately $70 million in assets allegedly belonging to a government minister in Equatorial Guinea who is also the son of that country’s president. According to court papers, despite an official government salary of less than $100,000 per year, this minister amassed wealth of over $100 million. Among the items we are seeking to forfeit are nearly $2 million worth of Michael Jackson memorabilia (including the white glove), a Gulfstream G-V jet worth $38.5 million, and a $30 million house in Malibu. These are hard, and hard-fought, cases, but we believe strongly that foreign officials who amass wealth through corruption should not be permitted to use the United States as a haven for their ill-gotten gains.
The Justice Department is just one component of the U.S. government’s fight against corruption. The State Department, with which we work very closely, the Treasury Department, and others are also very much involved. In the Criminal Division, as in other parts of the federal government, the struggle against corruption is an important priority, and one to which many of our prosecutors and law enforcement specialists are extremely committed. I think this is an auspicious time to be doing this work, and I’m delighted to have had the chance to share these thoughts with you. I want to thank you very much for the invitation to be here today, and I wish you an enjoyable rest of the conference.