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Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer On …

Yesterday, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer spoke at IBC Legal’s World Bribery & Corruption Compliance Forum in London.  See here for his remarks.  Breuer touched upon a number of topics (but not FCPA guidance as noted by the FCPA Blog here), including the following as excerpted below.


“I am asked to speak about efforts in the United States to fight foreign bribery perhaps more than on any other subject, and all over the world.”

“As you may know, no criminal FCPA case can be brought in the United States without the Fraud Section’s authorization.  I have said before that I personally believe our FCPA work is so important.  It helps to level the playing field for U.S. and foreign companies, and motivates corporations to create genuine cultures of compliance.  Moreover, corruption has such negative effects, particular in emerging economies, that we must use every tool at our disposal to fight it.  Not only does corruption corrode the public trust and weaken democratic institutions, but it also creates gaps in government structures that organized criminal groups and terrorist networks can exploit. The FCPA, which has been on the books for approximately 35 years, was the first effort of any nation to specifically criminalize the act of bribing foreign officials.  But only in the last several years has the law become a strong enforcement tool.”

“In recent years, we have witnessed a significant awakening to the problem of corruption around the globe.  Russia, China and India are taking foreign bribery more seriously than ever before; the U.K. has an important new Bribery Act; and, perhaps due in part to United States enforcement efforts, companies and individuals doing business around the world are coming to appreciate that they will be held accountable for the way they conduct business with foreign officials.  In short, the world is moving in one direction only with respect to anti-corruption efforts.  There is still plenty of work to be done.  But we are making progress, and I hope and believe that we will continue to make strides in this area together.”

Asset Recovery

“Criminal enforcement is a critically important aspect of our anti-corruption work.  But, in the Criminal Division, we have also been developing an asset forfeiture initiative – the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative – that involves civil actions against the proceeds of foreign official corruption.  Attorney General Holder announced the initiative in Uganda in 2010, and my team and I have been building the initiative in the Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section since then.  Our theory is simple: Even if we cannot pursue you criminally in the United States – because we lack criminal jurisdiction, for example – corrupt leaders should not be permitted to use the United States as a safe haven for the proceeds of their corrupt activities.  We have recently had our first Kleptocracy Initiative successes.  In July, for example, we announced that we had secured a restraining order against more than $3 million in corruption proceeds related to James Onanefe Ibori, the former governor of the oil-producing Delta State in Nigeria; and, earlier this month, we executed restraints against an additional $4 million in Ibori assets, including the proceeds from the sale of a penthouse unit in the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C.  Ibori was previously convicted here in the United Kingdom on money laundering and fraud charges and sentenced to 13 years in prison.  Another example involves two civil forfeiture complaints we have filed against approximately $70 million in assets allegedly belonging to Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, a government minister for Equatorial Guinea and the son of that country’s president.  According to the complaints, despite an official government salary of less than $100,000 per year, Minister Obiang corruptly amassed wealth of more than $100 million.  Among the items that we are seeking to forfeit are a Gulfstream jet, a mansion in Malibu, Calif., and $1.8 million worth of Michael Jackson memorabilia.”


“As a result both of increased FCPA enforcement and increased policing of corporate conduct in general, I think that the culture of corporate compliance has improved in recent years.  As I explained in a speech in New York City recently, until roughly 20 years ago, prosecutors in the United States, when they encountered corporate misconduct, were usually faced with a stark choice – either to indict, or walk away.  That began to change in the 1990s, when the government started doing something new:  agreeing to defer prosecution against the corporation in exchange for an admission of wrongdoing; cooperation with the government’s investigation, including against individual employees; payment of monetary penalties; and concrete steps to improve the company’s behavior.  And, over the past decade, deferred prosecution agreements, or DPAs, have become an important part of corporate criminal law enforcement.  I am aware that the U.K. government recently put forth a proposal to introduce DPAs as a way of resolving corporate cases in the U.K.  Based on the United States experience, my sense is that the availability of DPAs here would represent a positive step forward.  In the United States, the increased use of DPAs has meant far greater accountability for corporate wrongdoing.  Whereas prosecutors often declined when their only choice was to indict or walk away, now companies know that avoiding the disaster scenario of an indictment does not mean an escape from accountability.  […]  DPAs and NPAs are appropriate in certain circumstances and, therefore, they can be useful alternatives to criminal indictments.  But they cannot be a substitute for criminal charges.”

Individual Prosecutions

“As I have said repeatedly, the strongest deterrent against corporate wrongdoing is the prospect of prison time.  That is why I have put such a high priority on making sure that individuals are prosecuted when the evidence warrants prosecution.”

Morgan Stanley

“A former managing director of Morgan Stanley, Peterson pleaded guilty to conspiring to evade the bank’s internal FCPA controls and was sentenced to prison in August.  Because Morgan Stanley voluntarily disclosed Peterson’s misconduct, fully cooperated with our investigation and showed us that it maintained a rigorous compliance program, including extensive training of bank employees on the FCPA and other anti-corruption measures, we declined to bring any enforcement action against the institution in connection with Peterson’s conduct.  Prosecutors need to be smart about how they use their discretion in the FCPA context, as in every context.  And, as we did in the Peterson case, we always attempt to strike an appropriate balance between vigorous and responsible enforcement.”


I had the pleasure to Chair the 2010 World Bribery & Corruption Compliance Forum in London.  See here for my opening remarks.

In my remarks I stated as follows regarding NPAs and DPAs.  “Non and deferred prosecution agreements share a common thread – they both remove, whether in whole or in part, an independent judiciary from a critical role in a transparent legal system founded on the rule of law – and that is ensuring that provable facts support each element of the crime alleged and ensuring that resolution specifics are in the public interest.  In his recent Innospec sentencing remarks, Lord Justice Thomas cited a paper – “The Risk of Abusing a Dominant Position” – that notes, among other things, that the newly enacted SFO guidance on“alternative methods to the disposal of criminal investigations by way of negotiated pleas or other resolutions by corporate defendants” may “introduce some unintended risks of abuse.” I share this concern and assert that it is troubling when an area of law largely develops outside of the judicial system via privately negotiated agreements – agreements that corporates often feel compelled to enter into, regardless of facts or legal theories, mindful of the “sticks” the enforcement agencies posses. I support the study Transparency International (“TI”) has called for in its recent “Progress Report on the OECD Convention.”  That report expresses a concern that negotiated settlements could be“questionable deals” between enforcement agencies and companies and it calls for procedures to make settlement terms subject to judicial approval independent from the prosecutor’s office.”

See here for my recent post on Breuer’s unconvincing defense of NPAs and DPAs.

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