Bonifassi and Chatelin: France has DPAs, but needs more guidance – The FCPA Blog

Victoire Chatelin and Stéphane Bonifassi share with The FCPA Blog their analysis of how France finally has a mechanism for corporate corruption settlements. Now the fine-tuning should start.

The French government enacted the law commonly known as Loi Sapin II, paving the way for out-of-court settlements, on December 9, 2016. And the French Ministry of Justice issued regulatory guidelines on the subject on January 31 this year.

To date, only four corporate criminal settlements have been signed in France. The most recent, concluded in June with Société Générale S.A. in coordination with the U.S. DOJ, was about international bribes paid to foreign officials. Read more

FCPA BlogNews and commentary about white-collar crime, enforcement and compliance – Wednesday, September 19, 2018

“Stéphane Bonifassi: French supreme court finds no double jeopardy based on foreign plea agreement”, The FCPA Blog – Thursday, April 5, 2018

In a case surprisingly ignored by the mainstream media, considering the matter and the parties at stake, France’s Supreme Court recently determined that double jeopardy isn’t a viable defense to prevent the prosecution of a company that had entered into a plea agreement for charges tried in another country.

The decision by the Cour de Cassation, rendered on March 14, involved Swiss oil trader Vitol, which allegedly bribed the government of Iraq to obtain oil under the United Nations’ Oil-for-Food program that ran from 1996 to 2003. Under that program, Iraq could sell oil on the open market to purchase humanitarian supplies for its citizens. Read more

FCPA BlogNews and commentary about white-collar crime, enforcement, and compliance – Thursday, April 5, 2018

A Look at the Debate Surrounding Judicial Review of Arbitration – Stéphane Bonifassi & Elena Federova for FCPA Blog – Monday, January 29, 2018

Stéphane Bonifassi has recently participated in a panel discussion at Basel University in Switzerland hosted by Mark Pieth about the role of courts in reviewing arbitral awards.

Facing a room with substantial representation by arbitrators, Stéphane Bonifassi views likely ran counter to their collective beliefs, but neither side can deny a trend toward state court review of arbitral awards, especially when criminal activity is alleged.

Traditionally, arbitral awards have been the subject of little scrutiny by courts because of a general trend in favor of arbitration. But this absence of scrutiny might eventually prove detrimental to arbitration as a whole.

In  this article for The FCPA Blog that Stéphane Bonifassi has prepared with his colleague Elena Fedorova, he explain why judicial review of arbitral awards makes more sense than some new legislation introduced in France and Belgium, doesn’t violate claimants’ rights and is, indeed, the right thing to do.


“Stéphane Bonifassi: Expanding involvement of courts in arbitration makes sense” – The FCPA Blog – Monday, January 29, 2018

Recently a trend toward state court review of arbitral awards has emerged, especially when criminal activity is alleged, and no matter what side of the debate you are on, there’s no denying a change is afoot.

This trend has revealed itself in French case law. In Belokon vs. Kyrgyzstan, for example, the Paris Court of Appeal early last year set aside an arbitral tribunal’s decision that had found the Republic of Kyrgyzstan liable for the unlawful expropriation of the assets of a Latvian investor, Valeri Belokon.

The French court ruled that Belokon’s acquisition and operation of Manas Bank in Kyrgyzstan in 2007 hid money-laundering practices and consequently set aside the arbitral award. Read more

FCPA BlogNews and commentary about white-collar crime, enforcement, and compliance – Monday, January 29, 2018

Settlement Signals Future of DPAs in France

In this article by Michael Griffiths of Global Investigations Review, Stephane Bonifassi explain how the settlement in the ongoing investigation of tax evasion and money laundering leaked by HSBC’s former employee and Swiss whistleblower Hervé Falciani signals stronger cooperation requirements in future deferred prosecution agreements (DPAs).

The settlement was offered, as the article points out, despite prosecutors noting that HSBC didn’t cooperate with them in their investigation arising from the Falciani leak.

While that lack of cooperation would have negated any settlement in other jurisdictions, like the UK and the US, the settlement points out that the action preceded France’s implementation last December of Loi Sapin II, which introduced agreements and DPAs not previously available under French law.

Additionally and notably, part of the HSBC settlement went to the French state as compensation for damages. It will be interesting to watch how victims will be compensated in future settlements, especially in more complex matters.

Read the article

30GIRGlobal Investigations Review – By Michael Griffiths, 28 November 2017

Yacht Seizure Unlikely to Benefit Equatorial Guinea

Foto Ginopress/ANP (as seen on NRC.NL)

In a recent interview for an article written, in Dutch, by Marit Willemsen of NCL.NL, I explained that seizing assets belonging to Equatorial Guinea’s ruling Obiang family will hardly bring benefit to the inhabitants of the oil-producing former Spanish colony, located in central Africa.

Should Dutch prosecutors be successful in the forfeiture of a yacht, supposedly belonging to Teodorin Obiang (TNO), the son of the the country’s president, they will face difficulties giving the money back to Equatorial Guinea in a manner that won’t benefit the Obiangs ultimately.

Prosecutors had better concentrate their resources on prosecuting those who help such rulers launder the proceeds in their territory. And they should also assist countries that are really involved in claiming looted assets back.

Tax-fraud case against UBS tests a new way to fine financial crimes in France.

The trial may herald “a change of paradigm” in how France combats financial crimes, according to Stephane Bonifassi, a criminal lawyer in Paris.

UBS Group AG will stand trial in France in a tax-fraud case that may leave the Swiss bank open to a fine of as much as 4.9 billion euros ($5.3 billion).

The bank, which posted a 1.1 billion-euro bond to cover any potential penalties three years ago, said on Monday that it will have to answer charges that it helped wealthy clients evade taxes by stashing funds overseas. The criminal case is coming to court after settlement talks with French authorities broke down over the size of the fine. No date has been set for the trial. Read more

With Deferred Prosecution Agreements now allowed in France, the investigation into fraud at Airbus to move more swiftly.

Kentaro Iemoto via Flikr (CC BY 2.0)

For this article in Global Investigations Review about Airbus’s alleged corruption case, Stéphane Bonifassi explained how Deferred Prosecution Agreements, now a part of France’s legal landscape, will help cooperation between prosecutors in France and the UK.

Read the article (subscription-based)