SEC Resolves FCPA Charges Against Former ITXC Corp. Executives

13 May 2008 Publication

In May 2008, the SEC announced that final judgments were entered against former ITXC Corp. executives Steven Ott, Michael Young and Yaw Osei Amoako for violating the FCPA's antibribery and books and records and internal control provisions. During the relevant time period, ITXC (a global telecommunications company which has subsequently been acquired) was an issuer with stock traded on NASDAQ.

The SEC alleged that Amoako (ITXC's former Regional Director for Africa), made improper payments to senior officials of state-owned telephone companies in Nigeria, Rwanda, and Senegal in order to obtain or retain business. According to the SEC, Amoako arranged for ITXC to hire, as agents, employees of the state-owned telephone companies for the sole purpose of obtaining and retaining business with the telephone companies. The SEC alleged that Amoako arranged for ITXC to pay the agents (from its account at a U.S. bank) and that the improper payments were improperly recorded as legitimate expenses on ITXC's books and records. Based on the above conduct, the SEC charged Amoako with violating the FCPA's antibribery and books and records and internal control provisions, as well as aiding and abetting ITXC's violations of the books and records provisions. Without admitting or denying the allegations, Amoako consented to entry of a final judgment which permanently enjoins him from future FCPA violations and orders him to pay approximately $190,000 in disgorgement and prejudgment interest.

In a separate complaint, the SEC also charged Amoako's ITXC superiors, Michael Young (ITXC's former Managing Director for the Middle East and Africa) and Steven Ott (ITXC's former Vice President for Global Sales) with violating the FCPA's antibribery and books and records and internal control provisions. According to the SEC, Young and Ott directed and were active participants in Amoako's above described conduct and the SEC alleged that Amoako's conduct was undertaken with the full knowledge and approval of Young and Ott. Without admitting or denying the allegations, Young and Ott consented to entry of a final judgment which permanently enjoins them from future FCPA violations.

In resolving the matter, the SEC noted that its investigation of the conduct at issue continues. In a parallel criminal proceeding brought by the DOJ, Amoako, Young, and Ott each pled guilty to conspiring to violate the FCPA. Amoako was sentenced to an 18 month prison term and the sentencing of Young and Ott is pending.

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