The Fraud Section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division informed Güralp Systems Limited (GSL), a maker of seismic testing equipment, that it has closed its Foreign Corrupt Practices Act inquiry without bringing any action.
The investigation concerned possible violations of the FCPA and U.S. money laundering statutes resulting from alleged corrupt payments made by GSL to public official Heon-Cheol Chi, a director of the Earthquake Research Center at the Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources. The alleged activity occurred between April 2002 and September 2015.
In a letter to the company’s legal counsel, dated Aug. 20, the Fraud Section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division said, “Based upon the information known at this time and consistent with the FCPA Corporate Enforcement Policy, the Department has closed its inquiry into GSL, notwithstanding evidence of violations of the FCPA.”
In its letter, the Justice Department said that it has reached its conclusion based on several reasons, including GSL’s voluntary disclosure of the misconduct; its significant remedial efforts; and its substantial cooperation with the Department’s investigation.
Additionally, GSL—a U.K. company with its principal place of business in the United Kingdom—remains the subject of an ongoing parallel investigation by the U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) “for violations of law relating to the same conduct and has committed to accepting responsibility for that conduct with the SFO,” the letter stated.
In May, the Justice Department announced a new policy that encourages coordination internally and with other enforcement agencies when imposing multiple penalties for equivalent conduct. “We should discourage disproportionate and duplicative penalties imposed by multiple authorities,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein explained in a keynote address at Compliance Week 2018.
The policy discourages “piling on” cases by “instructing Department components to appropriately coordinate with one another, and with enforcement agencies throughout the United States and overseas, to attempt to seek an equitable outcome in joining parallel investigations of the same misconduct,” Rosenstein said.
In its letter to GSL, the Justice Department also pointed out that “GSL’s cooperation with the Department included the voluntary production of relevant documents and information relevant to the Department’s investigation. GSL’s voluntary disclosure of the misconduct and its cooperation assisted the Department with the prosecution of Chi for violating the U.S. money laundering statute.”
The SFO on Aug. 17 announced charges against Cansun Guralp, founder of Güralp, and Andrew Bell, managing director, both formerly employed by GSL. Both have been charged with conspiracy to make corrupt payments to a Chi.
The SFO’s announced charges follow a criminal investigation by the SFO into conduct at GSL that began in December 2015, which the SFO had not previously announced.