The longest prison term ever imposed in a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) case -- fifteen years -- was recently given to Joel Esquenazi, former president of Terra Telecommunications Corporation, after a jury convicted him under the FCPA for bribes paid to officials at Haiti Teleco, a state-owned telecommunications agency. The former executive vice president of Terra, Carlos Rodriguez, was convicted by the same jury and sentenced to seven years in prison. Esquenazi and Rodriguez were also ordered to forfeit $3.09 million.
The prosecution of Esquenazi and Rodriguez, and the lengthy sentences sought and obtained by the prosecutors, are only the latest and most severe part of an established trend of prosecuting individual executives separately from their companies under the FCPA. Starting in 2007, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and Securities Exchange Commission (“SEC”) intentionally increased their pursuit of individuals for FCPA violations. The DOJ has stated that this heightened focus on individuals was specifically intended to get the attention of the business community and deter violations.
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