Former Alston S.A. Exec’s FCPA Conviction Overturned

As we discussed in our December 2019 Compliance Alert, former Alston S.A. senior executive Lawrence Hoskins was convicted in November 2019 by a Connecticut jury on six counts of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”), three counts of money laundering, and two counts of conspiracy for his role in a multi-million dollar bribery scheme.  Hoskins is a U.K. citizen who never set foot in the United States and never worked for an American company. 

On February 26, 2020, federal Judge Janet Bond Arterton set aside the jury’s verdict and acquitted Hoskins of all counts of violating the FCPA, however, she upheld his conviction on money laundering charges.  Hoskins was employed by Alstom S.A., a French company, but was accused of acting as an agent of Alstom S.A.’s Connecticut subsidiary, Alstom Power Inc.  Judge Arterton found that prosecutors had not shown that Alstom Power Inc. exercised sufficient control over Hoskins to prove that Hoskins was an agent of the U.S. entity.  Specifically, in order to establish an agency relationship, prosecutors needed to show that Alstom Power Inc. had the right to control Hoskins’ actions, which the judge found they failed to do.   

On March 6, 2020, Hoskins was sentenced to fifteen months in prison on money laundering charges.  He faced up to eleven years in prison just for the money laundering charges.  Had Judge Arterton not acquitted him on the FCPA charges, he would have faced far more prison time. 

The Department of Justice may appeal Judge Arterton’s rulings.  However, her decision appears to narrow the breadth of the FCPA’s reach that the Hoskins jury verdict initially signaled.  The decision also highlights the DOJ’s burden when prosecuting FCPA cases based on an agency theory.  We will continue to monitor the development of agency theory in the context of FCPA cases and provide any updates regarding Hoskins’ case.

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