Global Investigations Review - The law and practice of international investigations

GIR Awards 2018 – Most Important Development of the Year

19 September 2018

GIR Awards 2018 – Most Important Development of the Year

Over the coming days GIR will reveal the shortlists for its third annual awards ceremony, which will be held on 25 October in Washington, DC at the Mayflower Hotel.

The 2018 Awards will take place on the evening of 25 October after the GIR Live DC Fall conference, which will take place in the afternoon.

The black-tie event will provide a chance to celebrate the investigations lawyers and practices that have impressed most in the past year, and is held in aid of Swawou Layout Girl’s School in Kenema, Sierra Leone, which helps disadvantaged girls in the region.

GIR’s top 30 investigations practices will also be unveiled on the night, and the event will culminate with a career achievement award for one exceptionally respected and admired individual. 

The nominees for the GIR Award for Most Important Development of the Year are:

Société Générale settlement

For many years, authorities in the US and France struggled to work together. While the US actively investigated white-collar crimes involving French companies, France took little interest. But that changed in June when French and US authorities agreed separate deferred prosecution agreements (DPAs) totalling $585 million with Société Générale in relation to allegations that the bank bribed Libyan officials from 2004 until 2009. It is the first-ever US and French joint bribery resolution. And if that wasn’t enough, the US settlement had a unique touch to it. As well as settling foreign bribery conduct, the DOJ also announced that Société Générale agreed to pay the authority $275 million and another $475 million to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to resolve Libor manipulation allegations, combining two separate types of violations in a single resolution. 

Counsel to Société Générale in Libya settlements

Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom

Partners Keith Krakaur in London and Charles Walker in Washington, DC 

Debevoise & Plimpton

Partners Sean Hecker* and Bruce Yannett in New York

Paris-based Jean Veil at Veil Jourde and Astrid Mignon-Colombet at Soulez Larivière & Associés

Counsel to Société Générale in CFTC and DOJ Libor agreements

Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom

Partners Keith Krakaur in London and Charles Walker in Washington, DC 

Mayer Brown

Partners Steven Wolowitz and Hank Bullock in New York

Passage of the UK Criminal Finances Act

The Criminal Finances Act gives UK law enforcement, including the UK’s Serious Fraud Office, new tools to recover the proceeds of crime and tackle money laundering, tax evasion, corruption and terrorism financing. The legislation introduced Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWOs), which could be a game-changer for UK prosecutions of financial crime. UWOs, which came into effect in January, allow law enforcement authorities to compel individuals or companies around the world to explain how they obtained property if they suspect it has been acquired illegally. The National Crime Agency recently said that “several” UWOs are in the pipeline.

Keppel settlement

In December 2017, Singapore oil rig builder Keppel Offshore & Marine agreed to pay $422 million to resolve US, Brazil, and Singapore allegations that it bribed officials at Brazil’s state-controlled oil company Petrobras. In reaching a settlement with Keppel Offshore, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) declined to impose a monitor and gave a discount for the company’s substantial cooperation – which included making foreign employees available for interview – and its extensive remedial measures. It was the first global foreign bribery resolution to include Singapore, which has been busy reforming its enforcement practices since. This year, Singapore introduced DPAs and proposed introducing a senior managers regime to hold senior executives accountable.

Counsel to Keppel Offshore

Debevoise & Plimpton

Sean Hecker* in New York and David O’Neil in Washington, DC

Mattos Filho, Veiga Filho, Marrey Jr e Quiroga Advogados

Renato Tastardi Portella, Kevin Altit, Thiago Luís Sombra and Thiago Jabor Pinheiro in São Paulo, Brazil

Rajah & Tann

Andre Yeap in Singapore

South Africa “state capture” investigations

South African authorities are currently investigating corruption tied to former president, Jacob Zuma, and his allies the Guptas, a wealthy family that owns several companies in the country. The investigation has so far ensnared several international companies, including German software company SAP. SAP reportedly said in September that it is reviewing all its South Africa public sector contracts dating back to 2010 as a result of local law enforcement investigations into its alleged corruption. The Zuma-linked scandal, known as “state capture” in South Africa, began gaining international attention last year when thousands of leaked documents were published online by journalism centre amaBhungane.

The US Cloud Act

The US Cloud Act, which was enacted in March 2018, will radically overhaul how data is shared between countries during investigations. Senator Orrin Hatch, who introduced the Cloud Act bill to the House of Representatives in August 2017, said the law will solve issues related to requests for electronic data stored outside the US. When the legislation became law, the US Supreme Court dismissed a case regarding whether US prosecutors could access Microsoft’s data stored overseas, writing in a judgment in April that there is no longer a live dispute after the US enacted the Cloud Act.

Registration for the awards is now open.

If you have worked on any of the nominated settlements but are not listed please contact us here

*Sean Hecker has since left Debevoise & Plimpton for boutique firm Kaplan Hecker & Fink.