United States: Dispute Over Agency in Foreign Bribery Case Gets Second Hearing

The long-running prosecution of a former Alstom SA executive came before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals for a second time on Tuesday, with a three-judge panel hearing arguments on a legal question that could affect the government’s enforcement of a widely used antibribery law.

Lawrence Hoskins was found guilty by a jury in late 2019 of helping to bribe Indonesian officials. But soon after, a district court judge partly overturned the conviction, ruling that federal prosecutors hadn’t shown sufficient evidence that Mr Hoskins, a British citizen who worked for Alstom in the suburbs of Paris, fell under the reach of U.S. law.

The judge’s acquittal gave new life to a legal dispute that has plagued the case nearly since its inception in 2013. Depending on which side prevails, the government could find it more difficult to prosecute foreign nationals like Mr Hoskins who allegedly play a role in arranging bribes for U.S.-linked companies without ever setting foot in the U.S.

The question before the Second Circuit concerns how broadly prosecutors can apply the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a law that prohibits companies with certainties to the U.S. from paying bribes to foreign public officials to gain a business advantage. The law applies to a company’s shareholders, directors, employees and agents.

In Mr Hoskins’s case, prosecutors alleged that he acted as an agent of a former Alstom subsidiary based in Windsor, Conn., while technically working as an employee of the parent company in Paris. Lawyers for Mr Hoskins disputed that view, saying the subsidiary, Alstom Power Inc., didn’t have sufficient authority over him.

The original full article can be found at wsj.com

(PHOTO: JEAN-SEBASTIEN EVRARD/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES)

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