Information and evidence relating to the bribery of customs officials may be reward eligible under the SEC’s whistleblower program. The U.S. Dodd-Frank Act created a confidential reward program that pays whistleblowers – both American and foreign – who provide information to the SEC relating to securities violations by SEC-regulated companies. This program has paid out more than $300 million so far to whistleblowers. The Dodd-Frank reward program covers corporate violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).
SEC-regulated companies and their local affiliates will sometimes use customs brokers to pay bribes to customs officials to avoid excise and VAT taxes on international shipments, avoid contraband seizures, and avoid customs inspections. In its recent SEC filing, agricultural company CHS reported that it has self-disclosed potential violations of the FCPA in connection with payments to customs officials in Mexico. These payments related to the inspections of grain crossing the U.S.-Mexican border via railcar. These type of payments can be of interest SEC regulators.
If someone has information relating to an SEC-regulated company (or an agent or affiliate of such an entity) making payments directly or indirectly through customs brokers (or other agents or consultants) to customs officials, he or she should feel free to contact me. And for more details about how the reward program applies to FCPA whistleblowers, please click here.