Tenaris settles FCPA Charges: First use of deferred prosecution agreement by the SEC

On May 17, 2011, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC” or the “Commission”) announced that it entered into a deferred prosecution agreement (“DPA”) with Tenaris S.A. (“Tenaris”) to resolve Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) allegations. The settlement marks the first time the SEC has used a DPA in an enforcement action. The use of this settlement tool was signaled by the SEC last year when it announced its Enforcement Cooperation Initiative, intended to encourage more individual and corporate cooperation during FCPA investigations initiated by the Commission. As part of the settlement, Tenaris also agreed to pay $5.4 million in disgorgement and prejudgment interest. The company resolved FCPA charges with the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) through a non-prosecution agreement (“NPA”) and a $3.5 million criminal penalty. Whereas the DOJ has long utilized DPAs and NPAs to aid in successfully negotiated FCPA settlements, until its announcement last year the SEC had not been inclined to follow a similar approach.

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