While our focus is generally on the more traditional business world, today we have an example of corruption and bribery from the world of college sports. This story also serves as a good example of the ways that the repercussions of bribery and corruption are not always limited to legal proceedings or prosecutions. The repercussions and impact on business and organizations can be wide-reaching, and can hit in unexpected ways.
When the participating teams in the 2018 NCAA Men’s Tournament were announced on March 11, many people noticed some teams that had been expected to play were missing from the list. Louisville, Oklahoma State, and USC all had very successful seasons and were widely expected to make the tournament; however, they did not make the list of 68 participating teams. Some sports journalists suggested that the reason they were not selected was because employees of and people connected to these universities are under federal investigation for corruption, bribery, and wire fraud.
In January 2016, the UN started to remove some of the sanctions imposed on Iran, related to the country’s nuclear program and uranium-enrichment program. The sanctions were eased as a result of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that was reached by the EU, the US, China, Russia, and Iran on July 14, 2015. The agreement specified limitations and requirements pertaining to Iran’s nuclear and uranium programs in exchange for lifting certain international sanctions.
Since the easement of sanctions, Iran has been eager to conduct business with new trade partners, and strengthen existing trade connections. Iran’s largest industry is the energy sector, specifically oil and gas. France has been particularly keen on nurturing business relations with Iran.
In mid-2013 Beijing-based wind turbine manufacturer and exporter Sinovel Wind Group Co. Ltd. (Sinovel) was charged with theft of intellectual property from US energy technology company AMSC, formerly American Superconductor Inc.
Sinovel purchased software from AMSC that helped to regulate the flow of electricity from wind turbines into a power grid. In 2011, with the help of a former AMSC employee, Sinovel reportedly stole part of AMSC’s software code and fitted it to its existing wind turbines. After stealing the code, Sinovel then refused to pay AMSC for $800 million worth of products and services the company had pledged to buy.
In January 2018 Sinovel was convicted in a US District Court of various charges, including conspiracy, theft of trade secrets, and wire fraud. According to media sources, AMSC sought roughly US $1.2 billion in damages from Sinovel in Chinese courts, alleging that Sinovel fitted the illegally-obtained code to more than 1,000 wind turbines. Sinovel may face hundreds of millions of dollars in potential fines imposed by US authorities.
Australia, like many countries, is looking at overhauling and strengthening its various anti-corruption laws. A number of new laws have been proposed recently that would change the way Australia handles corruption and bribery cases. If adopted these new proposed laws could be a big step toward making action on corruption in Australia much easier and more effective.
FCPA Blog has a great article about the proposed new laws, and we very much suggest you read the full article there, but here we provide a summary of a few of the bigger changes these laws would bring about:
Blockchains and cryptocurrencies are a major topic at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. While cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are not always held in high regard due to their volatility, lack of a supportive financial structure, and history of association with illicit trade, the blockchain, one of the technologies behind bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, is being hailed by some as a potential tool to increase financial security and transparency. This potential for blockchain is now being tested within Brazil to combat corruption in land allocation.
A blockchain is a continuously-growing list of records (called blocks) of transactions that are publicly held on every computer involved in the blockchain. Since the blockchain records who records and when they were and is publicly viewable by anyone, it is used by cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin to track and record transactions without worry that records are being fraudulently altered.