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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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Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski On Corporate Compliance And His Odd Use Of The Term “Deterrence”

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Last week Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski gave this speech at the 20th Annual Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Compliance Congress – an event frequently on the DOJ’s speech calendar.

As highlighted below, Benczkowski delivered typical Department of Justice corporate compliance talking points.

However, what stood out in his speech was his repeated odd use of the word “deterrence.”

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DOJ Releases Memo Titled “Evaluating A Business Organization’s Inability To Pay A Criminal Fine Or Criminal Monetary Penalty”

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Prior posts here and here highlighted several Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement actions in which a company received a reduction in the settlement amount based on a claimed inability to pay. In certain instances, it appears as if the DOJ / SEC were duped (see here for example).

Thus, yesterday’s release of this non-binding DOJ policy memo titled “Evaluating a Business Organization’s Inability to Pay a Criminal Fine or Criminal Monetary Penalty,” while not FCPA specific, is FCPA relevant.

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DOJ Deputy Assistant Attorney General Miner On “The Two Primary Goals Of White Collar Criminal Enforcement” (With Commentary)

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It’s mid-September which means a few things: the days are getting shorter, the trees are beginning to show color, and DOJ and SEC enforcement officials are on the speaking circuit.

Earlier this week it was SEC Chairman Jay Clayton (see here for the prior post) and yesterday it was DOJ Deputy Assistant Attorney General Matthew Miner who spoke on the two primary goals of white collar criminal enforcement: “(1) to deter legally non-compliant behavior and punish it where it does occur; and (2) to encourage greater compliant behavior, including creating a more level playing field for those who play by the rules.”

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Things That Caught My Eye In The DOJ’s Evaluation Of Corporate Compliance Programs Guidance Document

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This prior post went in-depth into the DOJ’s recently released “Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs” (ECCP) guidance document. This post continues the analysis by highlighting additional issues in the ECCP that caught my eye

For starters, there is nothing “wrong” with the ECCP per se. In fact, it is a nicely written and organized document. Substantively however, the ECCP uses the word “effective” 49 times, but there is no legal requirement that business organizations have “effective” compliance programs.

If a business organization wants to exceed the statutory standards set forth in the FCPA’s internal controls provisions (“controls sufficient to provide reasonable assurances” that certain objective are met) that is great! However, the legal and policy concern with the ECCP is that in an official U.S. government document the DOJ says it is going to base decisions about prosecutions and form of resolutions, monetary penalties, and compliance obligations in corporate criminal resolutions on specific factors, most of which, are not even found in any law passed by Congress.

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