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Judge Throws Out Largest-Ever Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Case

February 22, 2012 11:16:48 am

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday dismissed a high-profile foreign bribery prosecution, the latest in a series of setbacks for a Justice Department that has pledged to crack down of foreign corruption.

“I, for one, hope this very long and I’m sure very expensive ordeal will be a true learning experience for both the department and the FBI as they regroup to investigate and prosecute FCPA cases,” said U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon as he dismissed the case.

Judge Leon had from the beginning questioned the government’s litigation tactics and legal theories underpinning the case, reports Legal Times.

EDITOR'S NOTE: For on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, see "Battling Corporate Crime" from The Crime Report.

The conspiracy prosecution known as the "Shot Show" trial or the "Africa Sting" case brought charges against 22 people, the largest-ever Foreign Corrupt Practices Act case against individuals.

The Justice Department had at the time heralded the prosecution as part of a new era of FCPA enforcement.

"This ongoing investigation is the first large-scale use of undercover law enforcement techniques to uncover FCPA violations and the largest action ever undertaken by the Justice Department against individuals for FCPA violations," said Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer in Jan. 2010. "From now on, would-be FCPA violators should stop and ponder whether the person they are trying to bribe might really be a federal agent."

Yet the the government proved less convincing in a courtroom. Two earlier trials ended in deadlocked panels; three businessmen were acquitted in January, two years after their arrest at a military and law enforcement equipment show in Las Vegas.

At a hearing yesterday, the cases ended for good when Justice Department attorneys asked Judge Leon to dismiss with prejudice all remaining indictments one of the biggest FCPA cases in history.

“This appears to be the end of a long and sad day in the annals of white-collar enforcement,” said Judge Leon. “Unlike take-down day in Las Vegas, there will be no front page story in The New York Times.”

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