Next for Corporate America: Body wires and wire taps?

Fri Sep 12, 2014 11:42am EDT
 
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By Aruna Viswanatha

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Wall Street executives may have personally escaped the wrath of the U.S. Department of Justice but executives at companies accused of foreign bribery schemes may not be so lucky.

    Prosecutors say they are clearly shifting away from only big corporate settlements in such cases and are beginning to target more individuals. The numbers are not eye-popping. But officials say the results are encouraging and these cases may provide road maps for other financial fraud prosecutions.

"Certainly...there has been an increased emphasis on, let's get some individuals," said Leslie Caldwell, head of the Justice Department's criminal division.

    So far this year, the Justice Department has unsealed charges, or obtained convictions, against 15 people accused of engaging in bribery or related charges outside the United States. That compares to 11 such cases last year and only six in 2012. Some of the most recent defendants include a former executive of French engineering group Alstom SA, Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash, and an advisor to a company owned by Israeli billionaire Beny Steinmetz.

    Justice Department officials credit their good fortune to a change in investigative techniques. Instead of utilizing corporate disclosures as a starting point, for example, investigators are using more body wires and wiretaps to gather evidence — methods that have been successful in building cases against organized crime syndicates -- and some Wall Street inside traders.

They have also built up relationships with foreign counterparts so they can share information. Additionally, federal investigators have obtained court ordered search warrants issued to companies such as Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft Corp to get access to overseas emails.

NEW WORLD ORDER   Continued...

 
Application icons are displayed on an iPhone next to an earphone set in this illustration photo taken in Berlin, June 17, 2013.    REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski