On February 26, 2020, a federal judge in Connecticut dealt yet another blow to the U.S. Department of Justice's (DOJ) aggressive approach to prosecuting foreign companies and individuals for overseas bribery. In a 29-page decision, U.S. District Court Judge Janet Bond Arterton held that prosecutors failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that former Alstom S.A. executive Lawrence Hoskins was an "agent" of a U.S. domestic concern and granted Hoskins's post-trial motion for acquittal on all seven counts relating to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). The Judge denied the motion as to four money laundering counts.
DOJ had previously suffered a significant setback in the case when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that foreign nationals acting outside the physical territory of the United States cannot be prosecuted for violating the FCPA under aiding-and-abetting or conspiracy theories. The Second Circuit stated that "the FCPA clearly dictates that foreign nationals may only violate the statute outside the United States if they are agents, employees, officers, directors, or shareholders of an American issuer or domestic concern." United States v. Hoskins, 902 F.3d 69, 97 (2d Cir. 2018). Following this decision, the U.S. Government tried, and a jury ultimately convicted, Hoskins on the theory that-although he was a British national and former executive of a French company who operated outside the United States-he had acted as the agent of Alstom's U.S. subsidiary.