The Justice Department has notified an insurance broker now owned by
Marsh & McLennan
Cos. that prosecutors won’t pursue criminal charges related to more than $3 million in bribes the company allegedly funneled to public officials in Ecuador.
Prosecutors made public their decision not to prosecute the company, Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group Holdings Ltd., in a letter posted without announcement to a Justice Department website in recent days.
The letter, dated March 18, was reported by legal blog FCPA Professor on Wednesday. Jardine Lloyd Thompson was acquired by Marsh & McLennan in 2019.
“This matter relates to a former employee of JLT who pleaded guilty to charges arising from actions that took place in Ecuador from 2014–2016, prior to the acquisition of JLT in 2019,” a Marsh & McLennan spokeswoman said, adding that the matter was reported voluntarily to authorities in early 2018.
Under a program launched in 2016, companies that report bribes paid to foreign officials, cooperate with prosecutors and take steps to prevent future infractions can presume the Justice Department will decline to prosecute them.
The program was meant to incentivize companies to proactively disclose bribery violations by offering them leniency if they do so. But the program has had few recipients in recent years. The letter to Jardine Lloyd Thompson is the first such declination awarded to a company in more than 18 months.
The decision not to prosecute Jardine Lloyd Thompson was based on a range of factors, including the company’s decision to report the violations, prosecutors said. The department also credited the company for terminating the executive involved and taking steps to enhance its anticorruption training and compliance program.
The DOJ’s letter said that prosecutors had found evidence that a Jardine Lloyd Thompson employee and other company agents paid more than $10 million to a Florida-based intermediary, knowing that the money would be used in part to bribe Ecuadorian officials.
The intermediary ultimately paid more than $3 million in bribes to help Jardine Lloyd Thompson obtain contracts with Seguros Sucre SA, the Ecuadorian state-owned surety company, the Justice Department said. The payments were violations of the U.S.’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which forbids companies and their employees from paying bribes to foreign officials to gain a business advantage.
Although unnamed in the DOJ’s letter, the executive involved in the scheme was
Felipe Moncaleano Botero,
the chief executive of a Colombia-based subsidiary of Jardine Lloyd Thompson, according to a person familiar with the matter. He pleaded guilty in August 2020 to money-laundering conspiracy charges stemming from his role in the scheme.
A lawyer for Mr. Moncaleano declined to comment on the DOJ’s letter.
As part of the deal not to prosecute the company, Jardine Lloyd Thompson agreed to pay back more than $29 million in profits it made as a result of the bribes, the Justice Department said in its letter to the company.
The letter indicated there also is an ongoing investigation into the matter by the U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office. The Justice Department said it would credit the $29 million penalty against any fines paid to the SFO within a year for the same underlying conduct.
The SFO, in response to a request for comment, said it could neither confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation into Jardine Lloyd Thompson.
The Justice Department last week unsealed charges against Ecuador’s former comptroller general over allegedly accepting bribes to secure contracts from Seguros Sucre.
Write to Dylan Tokar at [email protected]
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