The former chief financial officer at then-Och-Ziff Capital Management Group has agreed to pay $35,000 in a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for his role in the firm’s notorious bribery scheme.
Joel Frank first faced SEC charges in 2016 in relation to the case, which resulted in Och-Ziff paying a combined $412 million in criminal and regulatory penalties for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act regarding the bribery of officials in Africa. Frank had agreed to settle then, but the civil penalty he would be required to pay wasn’t announced until Tuesday.
Frank served as CFO at Och-Ziff during the period of the bribery scheme, which began in 2007 and continued through 2011. To facilitate the bribes, Och-Ziff used investor funds to make payments to high-ranking government officials in Africa to win or retain business for the company. “Frank was not aware of the payment of the bribes,” the SEC notes.
However, in his role as CFO, Frank had final signing authority for every expense paid by Och-Ziff, in addition to his responsibilities overseeing the company’s books and records. The corrupt payments were recorded “as investments, loans, ‘deal fees,’ ‘subscription amounts,’ payments to business partners, payments to agents, or ‘professional services fees,’” according to the SEC. Frank authorized and approved each improperly recorded transaction, leading to his violations of the Exchange Act and GAAP.
The SEC said Frank, to whom compliance and legal reported, did object to certain transactions, but in those cases, “the CEO decided to move forward with the transactions despite Frank’s objections.”
The CEO, Daniel Och, was also charged by the SEC and agreed to pay nearly $2.2 million in his settlement.
Och-Ziff is now Sculptor Capital Management. Sculptor in July 2020 agreed to pay $136 million to former shareholders who were found to be victims of the bribery scheme.