DOJ Criminal Division Publishes Corporate Compliance Program Guidance Document

In case you missed it, on April 30, 2019, the Department of Justice (DOJ) Criminal Division released a guidance document titled Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs (Guide). This release serves as an update to a prior version released in 2017 by the Fraud Section of the Criminal Division. As such, the revised version seeks to harmonize the Department’s guidance on these issues and provide context on how they are analyzed. Regarding the release of the Guide, Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski stated, “Today’s guidance document is part of our broader efforts in training,...

CFTC Division of Enforcement Releases First Public Enforcement Manual

On May 8, 2019, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission's (CFTC) Division of Enforcement (DOE) published its first public Enforcement Manual (Manual). The CFTC's DOE is responsible for investigating and prosecuting alleged violations of the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA) and Commission regulations. The Manual is intended as a general reference for DOE staff in carrying out these duties and to provide transparency and insight to the public on how the DOE conducts enforcement actions. In announcing its publication Enforcement Director James McDonald stated that the Manual, "is part of a broader...
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FERC, Dominion Settlement Highlights Three Rules of Thumb: Stakeholder Disputes Highlight Compliance Risks; Change is a Compliance Moment; and Never Pursue Make-Whole Payments

On Friday May 3, 2019, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved a settlement between FERC’s Office of Enforcement and Virginia Electric Power Company (Dominion) to resolve allegations of market manipulation related to Dominion’s receipt of lost opportunity cost (LOC) credits in the PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (PJM) market from April 2010 to March 2011. Pursuant to the settlement, Dominion agreed to pay a civil penalty of $7 million, disgorgement of $7 million, and to be subject to ongoing compliance monitoring. This settlement highlights three FERC compliance themes: (1)...

Under Pressure: Pricing in the Middle East Construction Market

I’ve now been in Dubai for 9 weeks since relocating from Bracewell’s London office. In the construction industry here, there’s one thing to the forefront of everyone’s minds: price. That’s always been the way of course, in the UAE or any other jurisdiction. But the low oil price era and other pricing pressures mean that participants in the sector are feeling the squeeze like never before. One consultant said to me this week that there are always opportunities for good companies and good people. That’s true to an extent. However, with major construction players such as Balfour Beatty having...

Natural Gas Marketer Settles Royalty Fraud with Department of Justice

A recent settlement serves as a reminder that companies in the energy sector that do not directly do business with government agencies can still be subject to federal procurement enforcement laws with severe consequences. On May 1, 2019, the Department of Justice announced that it settled False Claims Act allegations with B. Charles Rogers Gas Ltd. (“BCR”), a natural gas marketer operating in the San Juan Basin area of New Mexico and Colorado, and three individuals who were BCR’s principals for $4.375 Million. Even though BCR did not have any government contracts, while operating as a gas...

The Evolving Market for Acreage Dedications

One of the more interesting developments in the oil and gas A&D market over the past couple of years has been the expanding variety of transactions between upstream and midstream companies involving acreage dedications. Acreage dedications are commitments from upstream operators or exploration and production companies in which all production from a given area is exclusively committed to a midstream company for the provision of midstream services or the midstream company’s purchase of such production. Acreage dedications are one of the tools midstream companies secure a customer base and a...