Back in May, we brought you news of the first Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) jury verdict rendered against a corporate defendant in the case of Lindsey Manufacturing, Inc. (“Lindsey Manufacturing”), which stood accused of bribing and conspiring to bribe representatives of a state-owned Mexican utility through a third party intermediary. A jury convicted Lindsey Manufacturing, Keith Lindsey (the company’s president), and Steve Lee (the company’s CFO), among others, for violations of and conspiracy to violate the FCPA.
Following more than six months of intensive argument from all parties involved, presiding Judge Howard Matz has issued a regretful yet blistering order in which he ruled that the underlying indictments should be dismissed and the convictions vacated on grounds of prosecutorial misconduct.
Judge Matz’s order recites a veritable litany of transgressions that the government committed throughout the course of the litigation, finding that the government “allowed a key FBI agent to testify untruthfully before the grand jury, inserted material falsehoods into affidavits submitted to magistrate judges in support of applications for search warrants and seizure warrants, improperly reviewed e-mail communications between one Defendant and her lawyer, recklessly failed to comply with its discovery obligations, posed questions to certain witnesses in violation of the Court’s rulings, engaged in questionable behavior during closing argument and even made misrepresentations to the Court.”
As discussed in our prior analysis of the case, the only previous instance of a trial for a corporate defendant accused of FCPA violations, the 1990-91 trial of Harris Corporation and certain of its executives, ended in acquittals for the defendants; in light of Judge Matz’s order, the government is now zero for two in prosecuting trials against corporate defendants under the Act.
Given the high-stakes nature of the case, the government is virtually certain to appeal Judge Matz’s ruling to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Judge’s order thus more likely represents the end of the beginning than the beginning of the end of this already protracted litigation.