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A Focus On DOJ FCPA Individual Prosecutions

This post highlights certain facts and figures concerning the DOJ’s prosecution of individuals for FCPA offenses in 2014 and historically.

As highlighted in recent posts here [1]here [1], and here [2], the DOJ frequently talks about the importance of individual FCPA prosecutions. Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell has stated that “certainly…there has been an increased emphasis on, let’s get some individuals” and that it is “very important for [the DOJ] to hold accountable individuals who engage in criminal misconduct in white-collar (cases), as we do in every other kind of crime.” DOJ FCPA Unit Chief Patrick Stokes has said that the DOJ is “very focused” on prosecuting individuals as well as companies and that “going after one or the other is not sufficient for deterrence purposes.”

Against this backdrop, what do the facts actually show?

Since 2000, the DOJ has charged 133 individuals with FCPA criminal offenses.  The breakdown is as follows.

  • 2000 – 0 individuals
  • 2001 – 8 individuals
  • 2002 – 4 individuals
  • 2003 – 4 individuals
  • 2004 – 2 individuals
  • 2005 – 3 individuals
  • 2006 – 6 individuals
  • 2007 – 7 individuals
  • 2008 – 14 individuals
  • 2009 – 18 individuals
  • 2010 – 33 individuals (including 22 in the Africa Sting case)
  • 2011 – 10 individuals
  • 2012 – 2 individuals
  • 2013 – 12 individuals
  • 2014 – 10 individuals

An analysis of the numbers reveals some interesting points.

Most of the individuals – 99 (or 74%) were charged since 2008.  Thus, on one level the DOJ is correct when it states that there has been an “increased emphasis” on individual prosecutions – at least as measured against the historical average given that between 1978 and 1999, the DOJ charged 38 individuals with FCPA criminal offenses.

Yet on another level, a more meaningful level given that there was much less overall enforcement of the FCPA between 1978 and 1999, the DOJ’s statements about its focus on individuals represents hollow rhetoric as demonstrated by the below figures.

Of the 99 individuals criminally charged with FCPA offenses by the DOJ since 2008:

  • 22 individuals were in the Africa Sting case;
  • 9 individuals (minus the “foreign officials” charged) were in the Haiti Teleco case;
  • 8 individuals were in connection with the Control Components case;
  • 8 individuals were in connection with the Siemens case;
  • 5 individuals were associated with DF Group in the Indian mining licenses case;
  • 5 individuals were associated with Direct Access Partners;
  • 4 individuals were in connection with the Lindsey Manufacturing case;
  • 4 individuals were  in connection with the LatinNode / Hondutel case;
  • 4 individuals were in connection with the Nexus Technologies case;
  • 4 individuals were in connection with the BizJet case; and
  • 4 individuals were in connection with the Alstom case.

In other words, 58% of the individuals charged by the DOJ with FCPA criminal offenses since 2008 have been in just five cases and 78% of the individuals charged by the DOJ since 2008 have been in just eleven cases.

Considering that there has been 67 corporate DOJ FCPA enforcement actions since 2008, this is a rather remarkable statistic.  Of the 67 corporate DOJ FCPA enforcement actions, 50 (or 75%) have not (at least yet) resulted in any DOJ charges against company employees.  (See here [3] for the chart with details – current when published in October 2014).

In short, and as demonstrated by the statistics, DOJ FCPA individual enforcement actions are significantly skewed by a small handful of enforcement actions and the reality is that 75% of DOJ corporate enforcement actions since 2008 have not (at least yet) resulted in any DOJ charges against company employees.

Another very interesting and significant picture emerges when analyzing DOJ individual prosecution data based on whether the corporate entity employing or otherwise involved with the individual charged was a public or private entity.

Of the 99 individuals charged by the DOJ with FCPA criminal offenses since 2008, 71 of the individuals (72%) were employees or otherwise affiliated with private business entities.  This is a striking statistic given that 53 of the 67 corporate DOJ FCPA enforcement actions since 2008 (79%) were against publicly traded corporations.

In the 14 private entity DOJ FCPA enforcement actions since 2008, individuals were charged in connection with 7 of those actions (50%).  In contrast, in the 53 public entity DOJ FCPA enforcement actions since 2008, individuals were charged in connection with 10 of those cases (19%).  In short, and based on the data, a private entity DOJ FCPA enforcement is approximately three times more likely to have a related DOJ FCPA criminal prosecution of an individual than a public entity DOJ FCPA enforcement action.

Are other factors at play when it comes to the fact that 75% of DOJ corporate enforcement actions since 2008 have not (at least yet) resulted in any DOJ charges against company employees?  A future post will highlight a relevant datapoint.

[Notes – the above data was assembled using the “core” approach – see this [4] prior post for an explanation.  The term “public entity”  is not limited to “issuers” under the FCPA, but rather a public entity regardless of which market it shares trade on.  Thus, for instance, JGC Corp. of Japan and Bridgestone are both public entities even though its shares are not traded on a U.S. exchange.]