The Corruption Files - Episode 07: The Sophisticated Conduct of Och-Ziff's African Bribery with Tom Fox and Michael DeBernardis

Thomas Fox - Compliance Evangelist
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In 2016, the DOJ and SEC served enforcement action against Och-Ziff Capital Management Group for inappropriate business practices in Africa. It seemed like only yesterday when this successful hedge fund was incriminated in a complex scheme of bribing government officials to maintain and get new business. The settlement was $412 million (and even more for restitution for the victims), making it one of the biggest payments for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act See more +
In 2016, the DOJ and SEC served enforcement action against Och-Ziff Capital Management Group for inappropriate business practices in Africa. It seemed like only yesterday when this successful hedge fund was incriminated in a complex scheme of bribing government officials to maintain and get new business. The settlement was $412 million (and even more for restitution for the victims), making it one of the biggest payments for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).

The Sophisticated Conduct of Och-Ziff’s African Bribery with Tom Fox and Michael DeBernardis

Key points discussed in the episode:

1. A crisis can breed opportunities for corruption. Even as its red flags became increasingly apparent, the option remained for the Och-Ziff to stop its bribery and illegal action before and even after its activities were discovered.

2. Compliance professionals need to have their eyes extra peeled, not simply to vet due-diligence partners but to look deeply into the ongoing business relationships with joint-venture partners. Och-Ziff Subsidiary was involved in corruption issues tied to its mining projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo. What was blatantly amiss was the review and audit necessary to view the joint venture from the compliance perspective.

3. Find a joint-venture partner that approaches compliance the same way you do. In handling joint ventures, there is a need for ongoing due diligence — and ongoing management of the relationship beyond due diligence. In the lifecycle of a third-party agent, work starts when the contract is signed, and the joint venture is formed.

4. Various means for auditing are available that don’t include turning the place upside down. Here are some good ways to keep an eye on an entity like a joint venture:

-Do spot checks on certain transactions

-Do sampling from a distance

-Make the audit by interviewing the employees to ensure they understand and follow the compliance requirements.

5. Remember, it becomes more complicated when you are not in control. Regarding building contractual protections and having strict control, ensure that you find a joint-venture partner that approaches compliance the same way you do.

6. Companies have always had audit rights but haven’t exercised those rights. It’s almost a requirement when making high-risk transactions to build in the audit rights and exercise them. Ask the right questions and gauge whether the third party has been honest in the due diligence process.

Many companies get scared off by the idea of the disruption and invasion involved, but that’s what takes away the potential problems and the unnecessary bouts with the SEC and the Department of Justice (which is responsible for enforcing the FCPA).

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Do you have a podcast (or do you want to)? Join the only network dedicated to compliance, risk management, and business ethics, the Compliance Podcast Network. For more information, contact Tom Fox at tfox@tfoxlaw.com. See less -

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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