Many FCC forms completed on a “routine” basis may need extra attention.
Anyone who fills in pretty much any FCC form should be familiar with the certifications required by those forms. Anyone who “signs” an FCC form (whether electronically or otherwise) must be familiar with them; more importantly, the signatory must be sure that the certification being made is accurate. Failure to do so can be a pricey mistake.
One common certification, for example, asks the licensee or applicant to verify that it hasn’t engaged in certain types of misconduct that might disqualify the licensee/applicant from holding an FCC license. For example, FCC Form 314, used for the assignment of broadcast licenses, requires the proposed buyer to certify that:
[W]ith respect to the assignee and each party to the application, no adverse finding has been made, nor has an adverse final action been taken by any court or administrative body in a civil or criminal proceeding brought under the provisions of any law related to any of the following: any felony; mass media- related antitrust or unfair competition; fraudulent statements to another governmental unit; or discrimination.
In the same vein, all FCC applications require an “Anti-Drug Abuse Act Certification,” indicating that the applicant is not “subject to denial of federal benefits pursuant to Section 5301 of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, 21 U.S.C. Section 862.” And, of importance to the Siemens Corporation, Question 50 to Form 601, which is used for applications for wireless licenses, asks whether “the Applicant or any party to this application, or any party directly or indirectly controlling the Applicant [has] ever been convicted of a felony by any state or federal court?”
Thanks to the fine-print-legalese nature of these certifications, it can be tempting not to bother to pay much attention to them. After all, the “correct” answer (usually, “yes”) is obvious, a fact that tends to discourage careful consideration of the certification language.
Our friends at Siemens, though, have just brought us a cautionary tale, after failing to disclose on Form 601 that Siemens’ parent company, as well as a subsidiary of that parent company, had pled guilty to multiple felonies. And for this oversight, Siemens has agreed to pay the government $175,000 in a consent decree with the Enforcement Bureau.
According to the decree, the parent company, Siemens AG, pleaded guilty to violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) back in 2008, while a subsidiary of a subsidiary of Siemens AG pleaded guilty to a single federal felony charge of obstruction of justice in 2007. Despite that, Siemens Corporation kept filing Form 601s (and also a few others) certifying that no party directly or indirectly controlling it had “ever been convicted of a felony.”
Obviously, those certifications weren’t accurate, a fact that didn’t escape the attention of the Enforcement Bureau. Continue Reading