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Why do Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement actions happen?

Often times – as highlighted numerous times on these pages – the root cause of an FCPA enforcement action is a foreign law or regulation that results in a real point of contact between a real company’s employees or agents and a real “foreign official.”

Regulatory burdens (ranging from customs procedures, licensing and certification requirements, foreign government procurement policies, etc.) create bureaucracy, bureaucracy creates interactions with foreign officials, and the more interactions with foreign officials, the greater the FCPA risk will be. It really is not that complex of a formula.

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Issues To Consider From The Beam Enforcement Action

Issues

This post highlighted the SEC’s recent $8.2 million FCPA enforcement action against Beam Inc. (now known as Beam Suntory Inc.) concerning conduct in India. This post continues the analysis by highlighting additional issues to consider.

Time Line

As highlighted in this prior post, Beam was under FCPA scrutiny since late 2012. Thus from start to finish, its FCPA scrutiny lasted approximately 6 years.

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Beam Pours $8.2 Million Into The Treasury And Becomes The Latest Alcoholic Beverage Company To Resolve An FCPA Enforcement Action Based On India Conduct

Beam

First it was alcoholic beverage company Diageo based on conduct in India and elsewhere (see here).

Then it was alcoholic beverage company ABInBev based on conduct in India (see here).

Yesterday, the SEC announced yet another Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action against an alcoholic beverage company for conduct in India.

This time it was Beam Inc. (now known as Beam Suntory Inc.) which up until April 2014 had shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange until Suntory Holdings Limited (a Japanese company) acquired Beam which thereafter delisted from the NYSE.

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Issues To Consider From The AB InBev Enforcement Action

Issues

This previous post went in-depth into the SEC’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action against AB InBev.

This post continues the analysis by highlighting additional issues to consider from the enforcement action.

Timeline

Per the SEC’s order, the SEC began its inquiry in October 2011.

Thus from start to finish, AB InBev’s FCPA scrutiny lasted just shy of five years.

It is absolutely inexcusable on any level for FCPA scrutiny to last five years. If the SEC wants the public to view its FCPA enforcement program as legitimate, credible, and effective, it must resolve instances of FCPA scrutiny much faster.

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On National Drink Beer Day, AB InBev Agrees To Pay $6 Million To Resolve FCPA (And Related) Enforcement Action

ABInBev

Yesterday was National Drink Beer Day.

Fitting then that yesterday the SEC announced this administrative cease and desist order against Anheuser-Busch InBev, a Belgium brewer with American Depository Receipts traded on the New York Stock Exchange. The conduct at issue involved improper payments by an Indian joint venture “to Indian government officials to obtain beer orders and to increase brewery hours.” AB InBev held a minority interest in the joint venture which marketed and distributed the beer of AB InBev’s wholly-owned Indian subsidiary.

The SEC found that AB InBev violated the FCPA’s books and records and internal controls provisions. Without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings, AB InBev agreed to pay approximately $6 million to resolve the matter. As highlighted below, the SEC also found that AB InBev entered into a separation agreement with a former employee that violated an SEC Rule implementing Dodd-Frank’s whistleblower provisions.

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