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Issues To Consider From The Credit Suisse Enforcement Action

Issues

This post highlighted the recent $77 million Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action against Credit Suisse concerning its internship and hiring practices involving family members of alleged Chinese “foreign officials.” This post continues the analysis by highlighting additional issues to consider.

Timeline

Credit Suisse’s FCPA scrutiny appears to have begun in late 2013 (see here). Thus from start to finish, its scrutiny lasted approximately 4.5 years.

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FCPA Flash – A Conversation With Alice Fisher Regarding DOJ FCPA Enforcement And Policy

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The FCPA Flash podcast provides in an audio format the same fresh, candid, and informed commentary about the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and related topics as readers have come to expect from written posts on FCPA Professor.

This FCPA Flash episode is a conversation with Alice Fisher (Latham & Watkins and former Assistant Attorney General in charge of the DOJ’s Criminal Division). During the podcast, Fisher discusses: the DOJ’s recent non-binding policy discouraging “piling on”;  the DOJ’s FCPA Opinion Procedure program in light of her 2006 comments as Assistant AG that the program should “be something that is useful as a guide to business”; whether the DOJ’s long-standing efforts to encourage voluntary disclosure have failed (for instance in the same above-linked speech Fisher stated: “I can tell you [companies] in unequivocal terms that you will get a real benefit” for voluntary disclosure; whether FCPA enforcement (in terms of resolution vehicles, enforcement theories, DOJ/SEC policy, etc.) has evolved for the better or the worse since her time at the DOJ; and what about the FCPA (the actual statute) or FCPA enforcement (DOJ/SEC enforcement policy, resolution vehicles, etc.) should change and why.

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Once Again The DOJ Shoots Itself In The Foot

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This is the fourth time this general post has appeared on these pages (see here, here and here for prior posts).

So here it goes again.

The Department of Justice has long wanted companies to voluntarily disclose conduct that implicates the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Why then does the DOJ continually make decisions that should result in any board member, audit committee member, or general counsel informed of current event not making the decision to voluntarily disclose?

The recent Societe Generale enforcement action (see here and here for prior posts) is just the latest example.

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The Supreme Court’s Recent Unanimous Decision In A Restitution Case Provides Yet Another Reason Not To Voluntarily Disclose

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The scenario is relatively common. Whether in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act context or otherwise, an individual acts contrary to the law and when his or her conduct is discovered various business organizations impacted by the illegal activity conduct an internal investigation.

The question arises: if the individual engaged in the illegal activity is convicted, may the impacted business organizations recover from the individual internal investigation expenses under the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act (MVRA) and, if so, under what circumstances? In recent years, circuit courts have split on the relevant issues.

Last week though the Supreme Court provided clarity in Lagos v. U.S. In the unanimous decision authored by Justice Breyer, the court concluded that the words “investigation” and “proceedings” in the MVRA are limited to government investigations and criminal proceedings. After excerpting the case, this post highlights how business organizations can best position themselves for MVRA restitution in certain FCPA matters by not voluntarily disclosing.

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Business Organizations Should Not Take The DOJ’s Latest Voluntary Disclosure Bait

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The DOJ’s efforts to entice business organizations to voluntarily disclose (in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act context and otherwise) stretches back approximately 15 years (see this prior post collecting various DOJ speeches going back to 2004).

Fast forward to 2012, then it was the FCPA Guidance which sought to entice business organizations to voluntarily disclose by, among other things, highlighting six “anonymized examples of matters DOJ and SEC have declined to pursue” where a common thread was voluntary disclosure.

In April 2016, it was the DOJ’s pilot program, an effort – in the words of the DOJ –  to “encourage voluntary corporate self-disclosure.”

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