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12 June, 2018

Leading U.S. Whistleblower Attorney Urges France to Adopt Essential Laws


 Contact: Mary Jane Wilmoth
Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto
Tel: 202-342-6980


Leading U.S. Whistleblower Attorney Urges France to Adopt Essential Laws

Washington, DC.  June 12, 2018. In a press release issued June 4, 2018, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the French bank Société Générale S.A. has agreed to pay $585 million in penalties to resolve charges that it violated the anti-bribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). The bank participated in a multi-year scheme that involved using a Libyan intermediary to pay $90 million in bribes to Libyan officials to secure financial investments from 14 Libyan state-owned financial institutions that resulted in Société Générale gaining approximately $523 million in profit between 2004 and 2009.

According to the DOJ’s release, SGA Société Générale Acceptance N.V., a subsidiary of the parent company Société Générale S.A., will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA in the Eastern District of New York.  

It is also understood that the Parquet National Financier (PNF) has reached a settlement with Société Générale. Under the agreement, Société Générale will be credited half of the penalties otherwise payable to the United States, and will pay it to the PNF, in the first foreign bribery case coordinated between the United States and French authorities.

“The United States’ involvement in yet another foreign bribery case is a direct result of the failure of the French authorities, whose lack of accountability allowed for corrupt practices to go undetected for years despite widespread knowledge within the company. It is unacceptable that whistleblowers from other countries must turn to the United States to prosecute their corporate criminals,” said Stephen M. Kohn, a top U.S. whistleblower attorney.

Kohn, a partner at the whistleblower rights law firm of Kohn, Kohn, & Colapinto (KKC) in Washington, D.C., has worked to protect whistleblowers for over 30 years.

“France must join with the United States to incentivize whistleblowers to step forward to report corruption. The money recovered from this settlement should be reinvested into effective whistleblower protection programs aimed at putting an end to bribery forever. If France is serious about ending this type of corruption, it should immediately enact laws like the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) with similar or greater incentives,” said Kohn regarding Monday’s news.

Read the DOJ's press release: Société Générale S.A. Agrees to Pay $860 Million in Criminal Penalties for Bribing Gaddafi-Era Libyan Officials and Manipulating LIBOR Rate.

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