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SEC Enforcement Of The FCPA – 2016 Year In Review

SEC

Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement, it’s not just about the DOJ.

Granted, as a civil enforcement agency the SEC’s sticks are less sharp than the DOJ’s, but the SEC also claims a significant piece of the FCPA enforcement pie (query whether it should – but that is a subject for another day – for instance as discussed in “The Story of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act” the SEC wanted no part in enforcing the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions).

This previous post was a 2016 year in review of DOJ FCPA enforcement.

Today’s post is a 2016 year in review of SEC FCPA Enforcement.  (See here for a similar post for 2015; here for a similar post for 2014; here for a similar post for 2013; here for a similar post for 2012; here for a similar post for 2011; and here for a similar post for 2010).

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Trump’s Pick For SEC Chairman Has An Informed And Sophisticated Understanding Of FCPA Issues

Jay Clayton

As has been widely reported, President-elect Donald Trump has nominated Jay Clayton (a lawyer at Sullivan & Crowell) to lead the SEC.

This post largely reboots this December 2011 FCPA Professor which highlighted a report titled “The FCPA and its Impact on International Business Transactions – Should Anything Be Done to Minimize the Consequences of the U.S.’s Unique Position on Combating Offshore Corruption?” by the International Business Transactions Committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. The chairman of the Committee that drafted and reviewed the report was Jay Clayton.

The cheerleaders of more FCPA enforcement (regardless of enforcement theory, regardless of resolution vehicle used, regardless of settlement amount, and regardless of long-term collateral consequences) will likely get agitated by Clayton’s nomination.

However, those with actual FCPA practice experience, an informed understanding of global business conditions, and a desire for smart FCPA enforcement will be interested to learn of the report previously released by Clayton’s committee.

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Friday Roundup

Roundup

Guilty plea, scrutiny alerts and updates, SEC Director of Enforcement to leave, sound analysis of the JPMorgan enforcement action, and for the reading stack.

It’s all here in the Friday roundup.

Mebiame Guilty Plea

As highlighted in this previous post, in August 2016 the DOJ unsealed a criminal complaint charging Samuel Mebiame, a Gabonese national connected to Och-Ziff, with conspiracy to violate the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions. In pertinent part, the complaint alleged that Mebiame, on behalf of Och-Ziff and related entities, routinely paid bribes to foreign government officials in at least each Niger, Guinea and Chad.”

Today, the DOJ announced that Mebiame pleaded guilty.

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United Airlines Resolves Books And Records And Internal Controls Action Based On Domestic Bribery And The SEC’s Inconsistencies Are Once Again Highlighted

united

If the above headline is confusing, you’ve forgotten (as it seems some commentators have) that the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act is a law much broader than its name suggests.

Because of the FCPA’s generic books and records and internal controls provisions, most FCPA enforcement actions (as a technical matter) do not involve any allegations or findings regarding foreign bribery. (This dynamic – termed non-FCPA FCPA enforcement actions for lack of a better term – has been highlighted in prior posts here, here and here).

Case in point is last week’s SEC enforcement action against United Continental Holdings Inc., the parent company of United Airlines Inc.

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SEC Director Of Enforcement Ceresney On …

Ceresney

Yesterday’s post highlighted comments made by Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates at a recent Foreign Corrupt Practices Act event and this post provides equal time to comments made by SEC Director of Enforcement Andrew Ceresney at the same event.

Similar to the DOJ speech, much of Ceresney’s speech represents the same old, same old something even he acknowledged during his speech.

When reading Ceresney’s comments about the importance of individual FCPA prosecutions keep in mind the following facts. In 2016 there have been 21 SEC corporate FCPA enforcement actions and 15 actions (72%) have not resulted (at least yet) in any related FCPA charges against company employees. This figure is generally consistent with the overall figure since 2008 in which approximately 80% of SEC corporate FCPA enforcement actions have not resulted in any related FCPA charges against company employees.

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