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FCPA Violation Conviction in the Bag for Dooney & Bourke Founder

By Robyn Hagan Cain | Last updated on

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals had bad news for Dooney & Bourke founder Frederic Bourke, Jr. on Wednesday: Two years after his Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) conspiracy conviction, it looks like Bourke is finally heading to jail.

Bourke was convicted in 2009 of conspiracy to violate the FCPA for his involvement in a scheme to illegally purchase Azerbaijan's state-owned oil company, SOCAR, by bribing the Azerbaijani president and other officials, reports The Washington Post. The FCPA prohibits bribing foreign government officials in order to obtain or keep business.

Bourke’s path to FCPA violation perdition began in the mid-’90s, when he met Viktor Kozeny, nicknamed the “Pirate of Prague,” who is known for his “shady dealings,” according to the Second Circuit.

Though Kozeny was arguably the mastermind behind the bribery scheme, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals found that “a rational juror could conclude that Bourke deliberately avoided confirming his suspicions that Kozeny and his cohorts may be paying bribes … [T]his same evidence may also be used to infer that Bourke actually knew about the crimes.”

One particularly noteworthy aspect of this conspiracy conviction appeal is the Second Circuit’s first impression decision regarding the jury’s finding on a specific overt act committed in furtherance of the conspiracy.

Bourke argued that the Second Circuit Court of Appeals should follow the Eighth and Ninth Circuits’ lead, and require jury unanimity on a specific overt act finding. The Second Circuit disagreed, choosing instead to follow the Fifth and Seventh Circuits on this issue.

The court concluded that “although proof of at least one overt act is necessary to prove an element of the crime, which overt act among multiple such acts supports proof of a conspiracy conviction is a brute fact and not itself element of the crime. The jury need not reach unanimous agreement on which particular overt act was committed in furtherance of the conspiracy.”

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