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Editor: Eric C. Chaffee
Univ. of Toledo College of Law

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

SEC & Tenaris Enter DPA over FCPA Allegations

On May 17 the SEC announced that for the first time it has entered into a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) with Tenaris S.A. The agreement with Tenaris involves allegations that the global manufacturer of steel pipe products violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) by bribing Uzbekistan government officials during a bidding process to supply pipelines for transporting oil and natural gas. The SEC alleges that Tenaris made almost $5 million in profits when it was subsequently awarded several contracts by the Uzbekistan government. Under the terms of the DPA, Tenaris must pay $5.4 million in disgorgement and prejudgment interest.

The SEC signaled last year that it would use DPAs to encourage individuals and companies to provide information about misconduct and assist with an SEC investigation. When Tenaris conducted a thorough, worldwide internal review of its operations and controls, it discovered FCPA violations by personnel in Uzbekistan and informed the SEC. In response to its findings, Tenaris reviewed its controls and compliance measures and significantly enhanced its anti-corruption policies and practices. Tenaris has agreed to cooperate further with the SEC, Justice Department, and any other law enforcement agency in connection with this case. Tenaris also agreed to pay a $3.5 million criminal penalty in a Non-Prosecution Agreement announced today by the Justice Department.

Tenaris is incorporated in Luxembourg and its American Depositary Receipts (TS) are listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Under the terms of the DPA, the SEC will refrain from prosecuting the company in a civil action for its violations if Tenaris complies with certain undertakings. Among other things, Tenaris has agreed to enhance its policies, procedures, and controls to strengthen compliance with the FCPA and anti-corruption practices. Tenaris will implement due diligence requirements related to the retention and payment of agents, provide detailed training on the FCPA and other anti-corruption laws, require certification of compliance with anti-corruption policies, and notify the SEC of any complaints, charges, or convictions against Tenaris or its employees related to violations of any anti-bribery or securities laws. Tenaris has agreed to continue to fully cooperate with the SEC in its investigation.

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