Hagens Berman Blog

Whistleblower News: SEC Awards, Danske Bank, FCPA

by HB Whistleblower Legal Team

09/07/2018

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SEC Issues Two Whistleblower Awards, Handing Out $54 Million

The Securities and Exchange Commission said Thursday it issued two whistleblower awards, handing $39 million to one tipster and $15 million to another. For both recipients, that apparently wasn’t enough.

Both tipsters filed for additional, related rewards involving claims made to other federal agencies; those were denied, according to the SEC.

In one of those denials, the agency said allowing whistleblowers to recover funds both under its program and a separate program for the same action “would produce the irrational result of encouraging multiple ‘bites of the apple’ in adjudicating claims for the same action.”

A third claimant’s award was denied by the SEC, the agency said, because the person’s information wasn’t used in the case.

The SEC declined to disclose the identities of the whistleblowers, citing federal law.

As of Thursday, the SEC has paid at least $320 million to 57 tipsters since launching the program in 2011 as part of the Dodd-Frank Act. The SEC said the $39 million award was its second-largest issued in the program’s history. read more »

Danske Bank Says Laundering Issues Are Bigger Than First Thought

Denmark’s minister in charge of financial legislation says it now seems very likely that “illegal” acts were committed in connection with laundering allegations against Danske Bank A/S that are still being investigated.

“A lot suggests that things have happened that are illegal,” Business Minister Rasmus Jarlov said by phone on Friday. “Therefore, I am glad that the authorities are investigating this case to the bottom and drawing the conclusions that ought to be drawn.”

The comments follow a report in the Wall Street Journal that $150 billion flowed through Danske’s Estonian unit between 2007 and 2015. Though it’s by no means a given that the entire amount can be deemed suspicious, Jarlov said it’s now clear that “enormous” amounts are being looked at in connection with the laundering investigations.

Danske Chairman Ole Andersen said in an email to Bloomberg that “it is clear that the issues related to the portfolio were bigger than we had previously anticipated.

“We take the matter very seriously, and are committed to understanding the full picture,” he said, reiterating comments the Copenhagen-based bank has made each time a new, bigger figure has been revealed in connection with the case. read more »

Ex-UN secretary general's nephew gets 6 months in prison

A nephew of former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has been sentenced to six months in prison in a bribery case.

Joo Hyun Bahn was sentenced Thursday in Manhattan federal court for his role in trying to pay $2.5 million in bribes to rescue a failed $800 million Vietnam real estate deal.

The sentencing followed Bahn's January guilty plea to conspiracy and violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The crimes were committed from 2013 to 2015.

Bahn told U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos that his "bad judgment led to other bad judgments." read more »

SEC Charges Real Estate Broker With FCPA Violations

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced settled FCPA charges against a New Jersey real estate broker arising out of his attempt to bribe a foreign official while acting as a broker for Colliers International Group, Inc.

According to the SEC’s order, Joohyun Bahn attempted to bribe a foreign official of a country in the Middle East as part of an effort to broker the sale of Landmark 72, a high rise commercial building in Vietnam, on behalf of Colliers.  The SEC’s order found that Bahn gave the bribe to an accomplice, expecting him to pass it along to the official.  But the accomplice, who had misrepresented the official’s involvement in the scheme, kept the money for himself, and the official was unaware of the attempted bribe.  The SEC’s order also found that Bahn circumvented Colliers’ internal accounting controls, fabricated documents, created fictitious email messages, and lied to Colliers executives.  Bahn was also found to have falsely represented that a buyer had committed to acquire the building, thereby causing Colliers to improperly record commission revenue that it would never receive.  “Although the fact pattern here is atypical, the underlying violations are straightforward.  Bahn engaged in an egregious bribe scheme that involved a web of lies and false documents as he attempted to bribe a foreign official in order to make a sale. ” said Charles Cain, Chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s FCPA Unit.  read more »