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DOJ Individual Actions: The Strange Public – Private Divide

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This post highlighted certain facts and figures regarding the DOJ’s prosecution of individuals for Foreign Corrupt Practices Act offenses in 2019 and historically.

As highlighted in the prior post, DOJ FCPA individual enforcement actions are significantly skewed by a small handful of enforcement actions and the reality is, despite the DOJ’s rhetoric, approximately 80% of DOJ corporate enforcement actions since 2006 have not (at least yet) resulted in any related DOJ FCPA charges against company employees.

Another very interesting and significant picture emerges when analyzing actual DOJ individual FCPA prosecutions based on whether the individual charged was employed by or otherwise associated with an issuer or a private business organization.

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A Focus On DOJ Individual Actions

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This recent post focused on SEC individual FCPA actions in 2019 and historically. Today’s post highlights certain facts and figures concerning the DOJ’s prosecution of individuals for Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations in 2019 and historically.

The key word above is FCPA violations.

Some in the FCPA space include enforcement actions containing non-FCPA charges (often money laundering charges against alleged “foreign officials”) related to an FCPA enforcement action as an individual FCPA enforcement action. While it is fine to track such enforcement actions, calling them FCPA enforcement actions is factually false.

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DOJ FCPA Enforcement – 2019 Year In Review

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This recent post highlighted SEC Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement against issuers in 2019.

Today’s post focuses on the other FCPA enforcement agency – the Department of Justice – and highlights various facts and figures relevant to DOJ FCPA enforcement in 2019 against business organizations. (See here for a similar post from 2018; here from 2017, here from 2016, here from 2015, here from 2014, here from 2013, here from 2012, here from 2011, and here from 2010).

Settlement Amounts and Specifics

In 2019, the DOJ brought 8 corporate FCPA enforcement actions.

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Swedish Company Bribes Foreign Officials, U.S. Collects $1.06 Billion In Record-Setting FCPA Enforcement Action

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Late last Friday, the DOJ and SEC announced (here and here) a record-setting Foreign Corrupt Practices Act action Swedish telecom company Ericsson (a company with American Depositary Shares traded in the U.S.). The $1.06 billion settlement amount is the largest net FCPA settlement amount in history surpassing the $850 million FCPA enforcement action against Russian telecom company MTS in March 2019 (see here).

The enforcement action concerned conduct in Djibouti, China, Vietnam, Kuwait, Indonesia, and Saudi Arabia.

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DOJ Criminally Charges Former Braskem CEO Jose Grubisich In Connection With The Same Core Conduct Alleged In The 2016 Corporate Enforcement Action

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As highlighted in this prior post, in late 2016 the DOJ and SEC brought a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action against Odebrecht S.A. (a Brazilian holding company) and Braskem S.A. (a Brazil-based petrochemical company with shares traded on the NYSE in which Odebrecht owned a majority of voting shares).

The conduct at issue was egregious and largely centered on a business unit, the Division of Structured Operations, housed within an Odebrecht subsidiary that allegedly served as little more than a bribe-paying department for the benefit of Odebrecht and Braskem. According to the resolution documents, former senior executives authorized approximately $788 million in bribes, largely through the Division of Structured Operations, to alleged foreign officials in at least twelve countries. While the principal focus of the DOJ’s action (and the exclusive focus of the SEC action) concerned conduct in Brazil including the companies relationships with Petrobras, the DOJ action also alleges improper payments in Angola, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Mozambique, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela.

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