FCPA

gavel money

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) reached a $16 million deal with a Utah bank recently, settling charges that the financial institution engaged in unfair and deceptive acts and practices.

Merrick Bank violated Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Act in the marketing and servicing of its credit card add-on products, the regulator alleged. From 2008 to 2013, the bank touted its “PAYS Plan” as a payment protection card add-on product that provided a benefit payment toward a customer’s monthly credit card payment when triggered by life events such as involuntary unemployment, disability or hospitalization.

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At a law firm, law matters. Law is the center of the institution’s universe, and it’s all everyone is thinking about.

It’s the other functions that don’t matter: “Another email from IT? Telling me about interfaces and gigabytes? Why don’t those clowns leave me alone?”

“Another email from finance hectoring me about time sheets? Don’t those morons know I’m busy?”

At corporations, law (and compliance) is an “other function.” The businesses are concentrating on their businesses, and law and compliance — along with human resources, information technology, and finance — are, at best, a means to an end. If you mirror the other “shared services” and send incomprehensible communications to the businesses, the businesses will soon realize that you’re just one of the pests, meant to be ignored.

Inevitably, if a business person accidentally steps over some legal line, you’ll hear that the business guy had no clue that the line existed: “Yeah, yeah. Now that you’re telling me about it, I understand that we have that rule. But how was I to know? The rule is buried on the fourth page of some impenetrable policy hidden somewhere in our computer system. I spend my time selling; I can’t waste time trying to make sense of your legalese.”

If you don’t sympathize with that guy, then you’ve been a lawyer for too long. His criticism is not just an excuse for having violated the rules; his criticism may well be the truth. How can you change that reality?

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He’s great at servicing clients.

* Morrison & Foerster just snagged a major government player for its global anti-corruption practice. Congrats to the firm on adding Charles Duross, formerly of the DOJ’s FCPA program, as a partner. [Washington Post]

* General counsel are keeping more and more work in-house, “presumably in order to minimize outside counsel spend.” In the alternative, it could be because the lawyers from the firms are too arrogant. [Corporate Counsel]

* If you dare to reject the Facebook friend request of the judge who’s presiding over your divorce case, then you can count on some retaliation in court. You can also count on the judge getting removed. [WSJ Law Blog]

* If you postponed applying to law school, please think long and hard about why you stopped applying the first time. Only take this advice if anything’s actually changed — like your grades, your LSAT score, or the job market. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News & World Report]

* “This is a case to restore faith in the old-fashioned idea that divorce is something that lasts forever.” Steven A. Cohen is getting off when it comes to his ex-wife’s RICO claims, but not much else. [Reuters]


If we don’t stand up to evil now, then when?

* Most folks think the police overreacted by issuing a civil disobedience warning for a 3-year-old girl, but those people need to watch Children of the Corn. [UPI]

* Speaking of the Brits, authorities detained Glenn Greenwald’s partner (interestingly, Greenwald’s partner is named Miranda) for nine hours and “confiscated his computer, phone, camera, memory stick, DVDs and video games” while passing through Heathrow. Wow, this is the sort of thing that might make Greenwald mad at the surveillance state. [ABA Journal]

* A detailed analysis of confidential sources. I’m pointing this out to publicly clarify that ATL keeps its tipsters confidential unless they specifically ask to be cited. So feel free to tip away! [Talking Biz News]

* Tales of Ted Cruz as a young man. So we’re calling parliamentary-style debate “debate” now? OK. [Daily Beast]

* Professor Rick Hasen examines North Carolina’s new voter suppression law and how it proves that the country still needs the Voting Rights Act. [Slate]

* Maybe bar exams should write better questions that actually cover all the material candidates have to learn. Personally, I was just fine not having to memorize a lot about New York commercial paper law. [Ramblings on Appeal]

* The tale of a wealthy couple evading the law. The article describes the story as an “arthritic version of Steve McQueen and Ali MacGraw in The Getaway, perhaps, moving at nursing-home speed.” Hollywood just found a plot for Expendables 4. [Seattle Weekly]

* The government’s obsession with FCPA enforcement has bit JP Morgan over hiring the children of Chinese officials to woo business. [Dealbreaker]

* Chief Judge Michael P. Mills of the Northern District of Mississippi weighs in on a copyright suit between the estate of William Faulkner and Woody Allen. The judge is apparently not a fan of Sharknado because he has no soul. Video of the quirky conflict after the jump…

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Kevin Ring in happier times.

Full disclosure: Former Jack Abramoff associate Kevin Ring, whose criminal conviction was recently upheld by the D.C. Circuit, is a friend of mine.  We grew up in the same town and have known one another for decades. In no way is what follows unbiased or objective in any sense.  That said, I know that I’m right and the case against Kevin Ring was simply, unambiguously wrong.  Not to say that there was no ambiguity as to whether he broke a law — there was a tiny bit of that. But under no sane system of justice would Kevin be going to federal prison. Though he almost certainly is, pending a request for en banc rehearing from the D.C. Circuit followed by a Hail Mary filing for a writ of certiorari.

We can all stipulate that Jack Abramoff is one of the sleaziest and most repellent characters to besmirch the legal profession in decades.  (My favorite Abramoff moment: the time he tried convince his rabbi to bestow upon him  a fake, back-datedScholar of Talmudic Studies” award, so he could get in the Cosmos Club.)

Anyway, Abramoff was Kevin’s boss for three and a half years, during the final period of which they were both partners at Greenberg Traurig.  In the words of the judge at his sentencing hearing, Kevin was a “cog” in the Abramoff operation, a “second-tier level” administrator of the firm’s lobbying team.  I won’t try to spin Kevin’s time as a lobbyist as some honorable endeavor.  I couldn’t. Generally speaking, lobbyists are regarded by most of us as only slightly less distasteful than the politicians whose favor they are trying to curry.  But that does not make them criminals….

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* George Washington University has been stripped of its U.S. News college ranking. The law school appears safe. [Tax Prof Blog]

* Now students can get in trouble for bullying their teachers. Teachers, people! TEACHERS CAN’T STAND UP TO THE MEAN SCHOOL KIDS WITHOUT A LAWSUIT. [Volokh Conspiracy]

* Just to be clear, Antonin Scalia would not be on the side of the secessionists. [New York Personal Injury Law Blog]

* So the accuser of Kevin Clash, voice of Elmo, recanted and said that he was a consenting adult when he was with Clash. It’s great to know that Elmo is getting barely legal ass. [Huffington Post]

* FCPA! Guidance! This is WAY MORE INTERESTING than Petraeus and the Kelley sisters. [WSJ Law Blog]

* For those of you who saw Capturing the Friedmans, here’s an update on the ongoing proceedings. [WiseLawNY]

* Stop drinking the FCPA Kool-Aid. Kool-Aid doesn’t even taste good anyway. Unless you add booze. But I digress. [FCPA Professor]

* Is it illegal to lie on Twitter? Some thoughts from Professor Eugene Volokh. [Volokh Conspiracy]

* So you wanna get published in a law review, huh? Well, check this out, young padawan. [Prawfsblog]

* Who are the top employment lawyers in America? [eBossWatch]

* The ABA and New York Law School are butting heads on how to deal with time lost due to Sandy. [Legal As She Is Spoke via Constitutional Daily]

* Lat is giving a talk at Vanderbilt Law School tomorrow. It’s open to the public and free, just like the pizza (but if you take the pizza, you have to stay for the event). [Vanderbilt Law School]

Nothing pisses off a lawyer more than uncertainty. Uncertainty gives rise to the risk of undermining the facade of perfect knowledge that attorneys prefer to convey to their clients. Given this character trait, it’s no surprise that the collective white-collar and corporate counsel community is freaking the hell out about every scrap of information it can glean from the Justice Department about its new Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) enforcement policy.

So what exactly has these observant lawyers in a tizzy?

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Where's Waldo? In court, apparently.

* Jason Cai, the software engineer convicted in the spring of murdering a young attorney, was sentenced today to life in prison without parole and ordered to pay more than $700,000 to the slain woman’s family. [Mercury News]

* An appeals court revived a discrimination lawsuit filed by a woman against her employer. And nobody cares. Wait, hold on a sec. Her employer is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. What, what, whaaaat? [WSJ Law Blog]

* James Holmes, the man accused of last week’s movie theater shooting spree, has been formally charged with 142 criminal counts. They include 24 counts of first-degree murder and 116 counts of attempted murder in the first degree. [Courthouse News Service]

* The Twinkie defense is so played out. Now, courtesy of an ex-Citigroup employee, introducing the brand spanking new “Where’s Waldo” defense. [Reuters]

* India’s largest and oldest television network has accused Nielsen of violating the FCPA by manipulating viewership data in favor of networks that offer bribes. Say it ain’t so! [Hollywood Reporter]

* Chick-fil-A, free speech, zoning laws, and homophobia — all thrown together onto a failure pile in a sadness bowl. Noted First Amendment lawyer Marc Randazza, counsel to ATL, takes to CNN to educate the masses. [CNN]

Judge Matz

[T]his Court is compelled to find that the Government team allowed a key FBI agent to testify untruthfully before the grand jury, inserted material falsehoods into affidavits submitted to magistrate judges in support of applications for search warrants and seizure warrants, improperly reviewed e-mail communications between one Defendant and her lawyer, recklessly failed to comply with its discovery obligations, posed questions to certain witnesses in violation of the Court’s rulings, engaged in questionable behavior during closing argument and even made misrepresentations to the Court.

– Judge A. Howard Matz of the Central District of California, benchslapping federal prosecutors — and vacating the convictions, and dismissing the indictment — in a high-profile Foreign Corrupt Practices Act prosecution. (Gavel bang: Daniel Fisher.)

(Additional links and information about this case — if you do FCPA or white-collar criminal work, this may be of interest to you — after the jump.)

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