In many cases, the SEC finds these schemes involve some of the highest-level executives. Often, these executives are directly involved in or aware of schemes to pay bribes to foreign government officials. In 2018, Petróleo Brasileiro S.A. (“Petrobras”) agreed to pay $1.78 billion in total penalties regarding violations of the books and records provision and the internal accounting provision of the FCPA. Petrobras’s highest level executives including members from executive and the Board of Directors paid Brazilian politicians and political parties hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes in order to secure a number of oil contracts. These executives were charged with falsification of their books and records to conceal the bribe payments from investors and regulators. Petrobras executives also facilitated a massive bid-rigging scheme in which contractors were able to obtain Petrobras contracts through non-competitive means in exchange for the payment of bribes to Petrobras, politicians, and political parties.
Large settlements like described above do not prevent companies’ participation in similar schemes elsewhere in the world. A number of FCPA settlements in the oil and gas sector involve repeat offenders. For example, in 2010, TechnipFMC settled FCPA claims regarding bribery in Nigeria for a whopping $340 million, and less than 10 years later agreed to pay $87 million for similar bribery activity in Brazil and Iraq in 2019.
These bribery and kickback schemes perpetrated by dishonest individuals and companies make it difficult for ethical businesses to compete in the marketplace. This is why whistleblowers are crucial in the enforcement of the FCPA.
Whistleblowers can successfully help in these cases if they have the following types of information:
- Specific, credible, and timely information
- Names of individuals involved in the fraud
- Documents or other evidence that prove the allegations
- Describe the specific fraudulent transactions
- Able to provide additional help and/or information as the investigation progresses
The majority of whistleblowers are current or former employees of the company committing the violation. Other whistleblowers are individuals who have been harmed by the fraud committed by the defendant, professionals who work in the same industry as the defendant, or individuals who have personal relationships with the defendants.
It is important for these types of people to know they can help stop fraud committed against the government and taxpayers. Whistleblowers can also receive a portion of the recovery. It is recommended that whistleblowers seek the guidance of an attorney in these situations. A whistleblower attorney will be able to help you file your case and help protect your rights.
With over 30 years of experience, the attorneys on Baron & Budd’s whistleblower representation team have represented dozens of clients in government fraud cases returning over $5.4 billion to federal and state agencies, with whistleblower recovery shares as high as 49%. They are ready to help if you have evidence of an FCPA violation.
Please call (866) 401-5971 or complete our contact form if you would like more information. For more information, see What You Need to Know About Becoming a Whistleblower. Please understand that contacting us does not mean that you have established an attorney-client relationship with Baron & Budd, P.C.