On December 10, 2014, DOJ filed a criminal Information alleging (i) conspiracy and (ii) violation of the bribery provisions of the FCPA against Dallas Airmotive, Inc., an aircraft engine maintenance, repair and overhaul company. Airmotive is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BBA Aviation plc, a publicly traded company listed on the London Stock Exchange. BBA was not named in the Information.
The Information was filed as part of a resolution of criminal charges in which Airmotive paid a $14 million criminal penalty. The essence of the conspiracy was that Airmotive's Brazil affiliate, Dallas Airmotive do Brasil passed money to foreign officials to obtain aircraft maintenance work in Brazil, Argentina and Peru.
According to the DOJ, "Dallas Airmotive used various methods to convey the bribe payments, including by entering into agreements with front companies affiliated with foreign officials, making payments to third-party representatives with the understanding that funds would be directed to foreign officials, and directly providing things of value, such as paid vacations, to foreign officials."DOJ Press Statement, Dec. 10, 2014.
The limited information about the case offers some practical insights and continuing lessons. First, internal controls are critical. A program that prevents, detects and remediates, and cannot be overridden are important. Second, relative to other prosecuted cases, the $35,000 figure discussed in the Information is small. It serves as a reminder, however, that DOJ is keenly interested in prosecuting bribery. Size does not matter. Third, this case involves an industry where the DOJ has had ongoing interest. Once the government starts investigating in an industry, it often leads to disclosure of other improprieties by other companies.
Although it was not discussed and the deferred prosecution agreement is not yet available, self-disclosure and cooperation are enormous considerations in these cases. DOJ has given cooperation credit, and that credit is apparent in cases such as Layne Christensen. Dallas Airmotive's $14 million fine may answer the question of whether it received cooperation credit.