Since the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) unveiled its new Cooperation Initiative in January 2010, securities lawyers and regulated companies have been waiting to see how the SEC would use Deferred Prosecution Agreements (“DPAs”). Some of the answers may be found in the DPA signed on May 17, 2011, by Tenaris, S.A., a multi-billion dollar Luxembourg manufacturer and supplier of steel pipe products with over 24,000 employees and American Depository Receipts (“ADRs”) traded on the New York Stock Exchange. By entering into the DPA, Tenaris admitted violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”).1 According to the DPA, Tenaris hired, for a substantial commission, a third-party agent in Uzbekistan in order to gain access to competitors’ bid information, which the agent then improperly obtained from officials in a partly state-owned gas company. This information enabled Tenaris to secure lucrative contracts worth close to $20 million.2
This DPA teaches us about the SEC’s Cooperation Initiative, including the SEC’s embrace of traditional prosecutorial tools and methods long employed by the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”), and the SEC’s view of FCPA compliance.
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