Just as the myth of the rogue employee is simply that, a myth; there is always another side to corruption. In a bribery case there is a bribe payor and a bribe receiver. While the FCPA does not make illegal the receipt of bribery-infused monies, there are other weapons in the Justice Department such as money-laundering, which can lead to the prosecution of bribe receivers. The Man From FCPA considered this less-well-traveled prosecutorial path when reading recent reports about the investigations into Robert Bosch GmbH and its U.S. subsidiary.
For those who may have forgotten, Bosch is the company which designed and manufactured the software used by Volkswagen to create its defeat device; the illegal software created to evade environmental regulations on deisel emissions. As a former software lawyer, I knew it was highly unlikely that VW’s engineers would have the technical capability to modify the correct lines of code to create their illegal result. There is no doubt literally millions of lines of code in the Bosch software. VW would have likely been required to work with its software supplier to create a working software.
Bosch has claimed its software engineers had no idea its software was (a) being modified or (b) being used for any illegal. Reports now indicate that German prosecutors, however, are looking at Bosch’s US subsidiary for its work with the US company Chrysler and whether there was “fraud committed when vehicles were brought to the U.S. market.” Unfortunately for Bosch, this is not the first investigation opened by German authorities over the software designer’s role in the deiseal emissions-testing scandal. There are ongoing investigations over Bosch’s role in the VW case, as well as similar allegations involving other German auto manufacturers Daimler and Audi.
Compliance officers should always remember there is a bribe receiver in a corruption case. That is why it is important to know not only your third party, but also with whom you are doing business. U.S. authorities have shown themselves more than willing to bring criminal charges against bribe receivers. German prosecutors are now taking this tact against the supplier of emission-testing software.