The District of Connecticut recently vacated a defendant’s convictions at trial for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) — but declined to similarly vacate his related money laundering convictions. This case provides another example of how the money laundering statutes can be a particularly powerful and flexible tool for federal prosecutors, and how they can yield convictions even if the underlying offenses do not (and perhaps are not even charged).
The case involves Lawrence Hoskins, a British citizen who had been employed by Alstom UK Limited but worked primarily for a French subsidiary of Alstom, the parent company. Hoskins allegedly participated in a corruption scheme involving a project in Indonesia. The bidding process for the project also involved Alstom Power Inc. (“API”), another subsidiary of Alstom that is based in Windsor, Connecticut. According to the government, Alstom hired two consultants, Sharafi and Aulia, who bribed Indonesian officials to secure the contract for the project.
Much ink has been spilled by the media and legal commentators regarding the district court’s decision (which the government is appealing) to vacate the defendant’s FCPA convictions, on the grounds that he did not qualify as an “agent” of API for the purposes of the FCPA statute. We will not focus on that issue here. Rather, we of course will focus on the fact that the defendant’s convictions for money laundering, and conspiring to launder money, nonetheless survived. Importantly for the money laundering charges, the district court did not find that there in fact was no underlying corruption scheme. Rather, the court found that the defendant could not be convicted under the FCPA for allegedly participating in this scheme. Thus, there was still a “specified unlawful activity,” or SUA, which produced “proceeds” to generate money laundering transactions.
The case also reminds us that, as we have blogged, it is relatively easy for the U.S. government to prosecute foreign individuals for conduct occurring almost entirely overseas, because the nexus between the offense conduct and the U.S. does not need to be robust for U.S. jurisdiction to exist.