Biggest Bribery Fines of 2023

Posted by

Emmeline de Chazal

on 10 Jan 2024

Similar to previous years, 2023 saw a wave of bribery violations resulting in hundreds of thousands in fines issued and settlements. Find out why.

Bribery Fines 2023

Similar to previous years, 2023 saw a wave of bribery violations resulting in hundreds of thousands in fines issued and settlements. Find out why. 

By understanding the behaviour that drove these fines and settlements, hopefully, you can avoid the same fate!

Key bribery fines & settlements in 2023

  1. Glencore - $700m fine & forfeiture
  2. Entain - £585m settlement
  3. Televisa - $95m settlement
  4. Recidivist Philips - £62m fine
  5. Frank's International - $8m settlement
  6. 3M - $6.5m fine
  7. Gartner - $2.5m settlement

Whilst companies face multi-million settlement penalties, the consequences for individuals can include jail time.

We track these settlements continuously; find out more in our posts about the biggest bribery fines of 2020, 2021 and bribery fines from 2022.

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Biggest bribery fines in 2023 in detail

1. Glencore - $700m fine & forfeiture

Glencore plc has been ordered to pay $700m after it pleaded guilty to its decade-long scheme of bribing foreign officials across several countries. This sentence consists of a $428.5 million fine and $272 million in forfeiture, in line with a plea deal reached by Glencore and federal prosecutors.

The fine amount is 15% less than US guideline recommendations, which indicates Glencore's cooperation. Upon investigation, it was found that Glencore had paid over $100 million in bribes to officials in various countries to avoid audits or win business.

This is not the first time the commodities trader has been in hot water. Last year, Glencore had to pay a fine of $341 million and $144 million in forfeiture after pleading guilty to a charge of market manipulation.

2. Entain - £585m settlement

Entain, the owner of Ladbrokes and Coral, has agreed to pay £585m to settle bribery charges against one of its former businesses in Turkey.

HMRC launched an investigation in 2019 into Entain’s failure to prevent bribery and the activities of third parties and some employees.

Entain said it had reached a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) with the Crown Prosecution Service. Under the agreement, Entain will also make a £20m charitable donation and pay £10m towards the HMRC and CPS’ costs. Further details are expected in December.

3. Televisa - $95m settlement

Mexican broadcaster Televisa has reached a $95m settlement to resolve a lawsuit by a US investor. The company was accused of bribing FIFA soccer officials to win the rights to broadcast four World Cup tournaments.

Investors claimed to have suffered losses when the bribery was uncovered, and Televisa's ADR price fell. Televisa still denies any wrongdoing in their settlement.

4. Recidivist Philips - £62m fine

Dutch-based medical device company Koninklijke Philips has agreed to pay $62m over alleged bribery in China.

According to the SEC, for five years, Philips’ representatives “engaged in improper conduct to influence foreign officials in connection with tender specifications in certain public tenders to increase the likelihood that Philips’ products were selected”.

Philips' subsidiaries also engaged in “improper bidding practices” with state-owned hospitals. For example, they tailored the technical specifications in the tender to match Philips’ products. In addition, Philips prepared its own bids, as well as fake bids describing other companies’ products, to “give the appearance of legitimacy” and satisfy China’s three-bid criteria.

Philips’ subsidiaries also used “special price discounts” with distributors of its medical diagnostic imaging equipment in China, which were then used “to fund improper payments to employees of government-owned hospitals”.

In Hainan Province, a sales manager reportedly took $14,500 in local currency to the home of the director of a hospital’s radiology department and subsequently won sales for two devices worth $4.6 million.

It is Philips' second FCPA action in ten years. In 2013, the company paid $4.5 million for records and controls offences relating to similar practices in Poland.

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5. Frank's International - $8m settlement

The Dutch oil services company, Frank's International, has agreed to settle a long-running investigation into bribery violations by paying $8m. The alleged misconduct by the company's operations in Angola took place between January 2008 and October 2014, according to the  Securities and Exchange Commission ( SEC) of the US.

The investigation has found that the company paid a sales agent commissions knowing that they would be likely to use these funds to bribe Angolan government officials. Some of these funds were also siphoned off to an employee of Angola’s state oil and gas company, Sonangol, in order to influence the acquisition of oil and natural gas service contracts.

6. 3M - $6.5m fine

3M Company has agreed to pay the SEC $6.5 million in penalties and disgorgement to settle FCPA violations tied to its Chinese subsidiary. The SEC accused 3M of breaching FCPA's provisions related to record-keeping and internal controls.

Without admitting guilt, 3M will pay $4.5 million in disgorgement and prejudgment interest, along with a $2 million civil penalty. The SEC stated that the Chinese subsidiary arranged overseas trips for state-owned healthcare facility employees, disguising them as conferences and educational events. These trips often included luxury tourist activities overlapping with the supposed conferences and events.

From 2014 to 2017, 3M arranged leisure activities for Chinese officials at the same time as the events they were supposed to attend. The SEC revealed that the subsidiary funded around 24 trips for Chinese officials, including tourism. 3M China's employees provided legitimate itineraries to compliance teams while secretly collaborating with Chinese travel agents to create alternate itineraries for tourism. The investigation was disclosed by 3M in a 2019 SEC filing.

7. Gartner - $2.5m settlement

Technological research and consulting firm, Gartner, will pay a $1.6m penalty and disgorgement and prejudgment interest of around $857k for violating the FCPA's anti-bribery, books and records, and internal accounting controls provisions.

The SEC revealed that the company entered into a corrupt agreement with a private South African company that had a close connection with South African government officials. They did this with the knowledge or conscious disregard that the funds paid to the private company would be used to bribe government officials to influence the award of consulting contracts to Gartner.

Bribery Prevention Training Presentation

Key takeaways for companies

  • Never give or offer any inducement, nor request or accept one from others - remember that bribery is a criminal offence and a predicate offence to money laundering.
  • Ensure that any gift or hospitality you give or accept is proportionate and in line with industry-standard policies and thresholds.
  • Conduct due diligence on all third parties and make your company's stance on bribery clear - lookout for any bribery red flags.
  • Never attempt to disguise a bribe as something legitimate, for instance, as a 'scholarship' or 'loan repayment'.
  • Report any knowledge or suspicion of active bribery via your company's whistleblowing channels.

Biggest individual bribery prosecutions in 2023

  1. Frank Partridge - 7.5 years imprisonment
  2. Barnett, Roberts, DeAbreu, Hayman & Miles - imprisonment
  3. Frank Rafaraci - 1 year imprisonment
  4. John Raphael - 6-month imprisonment
  5. Graeme Hossie, Rachel Rhodes & Ariel Armon - sentence pending

The consequences for individuals guilty of bribery and corruption are severe, with penalties that could include time in prison.

Free Corporate Gifts Checklist

1. Frank Partridge - 7.5 years imprisonment

Former Metropolitan officer, Frank Partridge, was found guilty of four counts of bribery. While working in the Westminster licensing unit between 2013 and 2015, he accepted bribes that included a £7000 luxury family holiday in Morocco, home renovations, tickets to exclusive events and a bespoke monogrammed £1,350 suit.

He formed close relationships with people linked to the West End nightlife instead of policing them - these relationships benefited him financially and those with "someone with Frank Partridge's powers in their pocket".

2. Barnett, Roberts, DeAbreu, Hayman & Miles - imprisonment

Five individuals were handed sentences in connection to illicit waste disposal contracts, causing losses of approximately £417,000 for Cardiff City Council. Andrew Barnett was convicted of bribery offences at Cardiff Crown Court and received an 18-month prison sentence.

Earlier in May 2022, Warren Roberts, Cesario DeAbreu, and Joshua Hayman pleaded guilty to bribery charges. They were subsequently sentenced to 28 months, 22 months, and nine months of imprisonment (suspended for 12 months), respectively. Anthony Miles admitted to bribery charges in a June 2023 hearing and was handed a 14-month suspended sentence for 12 months.

The focal point of the case revolves around Warren Roberts, the overseer of the sole trading waste disposal entity A&T Waste Management. Roberts was implicated in offering bribes to Cardiff Council staff responsible for operating the weighbridge (large scales used in the waste industry for weighing vehicles and measuring material quantity) and sorting waste at Bessemer Close, Cardiff.

3. Frank Rafaraci - 1 year imprisonment

Frank Rafaraci, a 70-year-old executive at Multinational Logistics Services (MLS), a major U.S. Navy contractor, confessed to a bribery charge and was sentenced to one year and a day in prison. The case involved Rafaraci slipping $33,500 in cash-filled envelopes to a U.S. Navy official.

Initially accused by the Justice Department of orchestrating a multimillion-dollar fraud scheme in the global navy ship services industry, the allegations were later scaled back during legal proceedings. Rafaraci's arrest in Malta in September 2021 resulted from the collaboration between U.S. and Maltese authorities.

The initial accusations included defrauding the U.S. Navy of $50 million by inflating invoices for port services from 2011 to 2018 and using shell companies to launder money, evading U.S. taxes. However, as the case unfolded, the focus shifted, and Rafaraci ultimately pleaded guilty to a single bribery count in April 2022, marking a significant narrative shift in the charges against him.

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4. John Raphael - 6-month imprisonment

John Raphael has been convicted twice and will now serve six months in prison for a food service bribery scheme that began about a decade ago. Originally, Raphael was sentenced to house arrest and no prison time. The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Ohio appealed the judge's decision which resulted in the resentencing.

Despite six months of jail time being greater than none, this sentence is still less than the recommended 41 to 51 months under federal sentencing guidelines. Raphael was a board member of the Franklin County Facilities Authority that oversees the convention centre and Nationwide Arena.

Raphael secretly took on a national food vendor, Centerplate, as a lobbying client in 2013 for $5,000 monthly. The investigation found that his aim was to help Centerplate land public food service contracts in Columbus. There was a $40,000 "success fee" should it get the convention centre's exclusive food contract.

In total, Raphael collected $144,000.

5. Graeme Hossie, Rachel Rhodes & Ariel Armon - sentence pending

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has charged London Mining plc's former Chief Executive Officer(CEO) and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) with bribery. Former CEO Graeme Hossie, CFO Rachel Rhodes and international business consultant Ariel Armon were charged with conspiring to make multiple corrupt payments which would secure preferential treatment in Sierra Leone.

The SFO initiated an extensive investigation after the company collapsed in 2016. As part of this investigation, many arrests and multiple searches were carried out. All three defendants appeared in person at Southwark, where they pleaded not guilty. A trial is scheduled to begin in January 2025.

Key takeaways for individuals

  • Ensure that you conduct adequate due diligence on all third parties and make our stance on bribery clear to them.
  • Have a suitable Gifts and Entertainment Policy in place so that everyone is clear on what is and is not acceptable.
  • Never make facilitation payments - they're just bribery by another name.
  • Remember that bribery is a crime resulting in hefty fines or a stretch in jail!
    Anti-bribery Training Tips

Want to learn more about anti-bribery compliance?

We have created a comprehensive bribery & corruption roadmap to help you navigate the compliance landscape, supported by several financial crime prevention courses in our Compliance Essentials Library.

We also have 100+ free compliance training aids, including assessments, best practice guides, checklists, desk aids, eBooks, games, posters, training presentations and even e-learning modules!

Finally, the SkillcastConnect community provides a unique opportunity to network with other compliance professionals in a vendor-free environment, priority access to our free online learning portal and other exclusive benefits.

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It will help you to prevent and resist bribery more effectively and comply with the UK Bribery Act.

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