United States v. Hoskins (2d Cir. August 2022)

The Federal Docket

August 22, 2022

Lawrence Hoskins was charged with violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) but was acquitted on several counts at trial after the district court granted his motion for acquittal. The Government appealed, and Hoskins cross-appealed arguing that his motion to dismiss based on Speedy Trial grounds should have been granted and challenging the district court’s jury instructions.

First, the Court affirmed the district court’s order acquitting Hoskins on the FCPA violations, holding that there was no agency or employee relationship between Hoskins and Alstom Power, an American company that allegedly hired two consultants to bribe Indonesian officials for a contract. Hoskins, who lived in Paris, worked for one of the U.K. subsidiaries of Alstom Power and was responsible for approving consultants and authorizing payments to them.

The FCPA makes it illegal for officers, directors, and agents “of a domestic concern” to use interstate commerce to bribe foreign officials. The Court held that, since Hoskins is not a U.S. citizen, not employed by the U.S. subsidiary, and was not in the U.S. during the alleged scheme, he fell “outside the category of persons directly covered by the FCPA.”

The Court also reasoned that neither was Hoskins an “agent” within the meaning of the FCPA. Under the common law meaning of “agency,” there was no explicit or implied agent or employee relationship between Hoskins and Alstom Power since he was part of a different subsidiary, within a different department, and there was no evidence that Alstom Power executives actually controlled Hoskin’s actions–in fact, the company lacked the ability to fire Hoskins or affect his compensation. It was not sufficient that Alstom Power executives often directed Hoskins to take certain actions regarding contracts since, ultimately, Hoskins lacked any authority to negotiate or influence material events.

The Court also affirmed the district court’s orders denying Hoskins’ motion to dismiss on Speedy Trial grounds. Despite a 6-year delay between Hoskins’ first indictment and his trial, there was no violation of Hoskins’ right to a speedy trial where the district court retroactive made ends-of-justice findings exempting some parts of the delay and found that Hoskins was not sufficiently prejudiced by the delay.

Finally, the Court affirmed the district court’s jury instructions and order denying Hoskins’ motion for acquittal on other counts. The Court accurately instructed the jury on “withdrawal” from a conspiracy, where it informed jurors that Hoskins’ resignation from the company, standing alone, was not enough to show withdrawal. It also properly denied Hoskins motion for acquittal based on the Court’s instructions regarding venue, holding that the jury could consider a series of transfers occurring throughout Connecticut and other states in order to find venue was proper in Connecticut.

Lohier partially dissented and partially concurred. Lohier dissented to the Court’s holding acquitting Hoskins of FCPA violations, arguing that Hoskins was in fact an agent of Alstom Power sufficient to trigger liability under the FCPA.

Appeal from the District of Connecticut
Opinion by Pooler, joined by Newman
Partial concurrence, partial dissent by Lohier

Click here to read the opinion.

Tom Church - Tom is a trial and appellate lawyer focusing on criminal defense and civil trials. Tom is the author of "The Federal Docket" and is a contributor to Mercer Law Review's Annual Survey in the areas of federal sentencing guidelines and criminal law. Tom graduated with honors from the University of Georgia Law School where he served as a research assistant to the faculty in the areas of constitutional law and civil rights litigation. Read Tom's reviews on AVVO. Follow Tom on Linkedin.

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