Earlier this week, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer spoke at the 3rd Russia and Commonwealth of Independent States Summit on Anti-Corruption. See here for his remarks.
Breuer’s remarks touched upon a number of topics including the following as excerpted below.
On Corruption Generally
“Corruption affects countries rich and poor, large and small, and it has particularly harmful effects on emerging economies. When a developing country’s public officials routinely abuse their power for personal gain, its people suffer. Roads are not built, schools lie in ruin, and basic public services go unprovided. And when corruption takes hold in any nation, its political institutions tend to lose legitimacy, threatening democratic stability and the rule of law. Corruption undermines the health of international markets, stifling competition and repelling foreign investment. Moreover, corruption is a ‘gateway crime, allowing money laundering, gang violence, terrorism and other crimes to thrive.”
On the FCPA’s Legislative History
“The FCPA was the first effort of any nation to specifically criminalize the act of bribing foreign officials. The statute was enacted in the wake of the “Watergate” scandal in the United States, which led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon in 1974 and resulted in a dramatic plunge in Americans’ overall trust in government. In 1976, following certain prosecutions for illegal use of corporate funds arising out of the Watergate scandal, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, or S.E.C., which regulates the securities industry in the United States, issued a “Report on Questionable and Illegal Corporate Payments and Practices.” In its report, the S.E.C. determined that foreign bribery by U.S. corporations was “serious and sufficiently widespread to be a cause for deep concern.” S.E.C. investigations revealed that hundreds of U.S. companies had made corrupt foreign payments involving hundreds of millions of dollars. With this background, the U.S. Senate Banking Committee concluded that there was a strong need for anti-bribery legislation in the United States. “Corporate bribery is bad business,” the committee said in its Report. “In our free market system it is basic that the sale of products should take place on the basis of price, quality, and service. Corporate bribery is fundamentally destructive of this basic tenet.””
“As the U.S. House of Representatives’ Report on the FCPA put it, a strong anti-bribery law can “help U.S. corporations resist corrupt demands.” In the words of the former chairman of a major oil company, quoted in the report, “If we could cite our law which says we just may not do it, we would be in a better position to resist” the pressure that sometimes comes from foreign officials. That was true in 1977, and it’s true now.”
On FCPA Enforcement
“The passage of the FCPA was a milestone. But the Act did not become a strong enforcement mechanism overnight. Indeed, in the first decades immediately following the law’s enactment, many saw the FCPA as a slumbering statute. That is no longer the case. In recent years, the Criminal Division has dramatically increased its FCPA enforcement efforts. To give you a sense: in 2004, we charged two individuals under the FCPA and collected around $11 million in criminal fines. In 2005, we charged five individuals and collected around $16.5 million. By contrast, in 2009 and 2010 combined, we charged over 50 individuals and collected nearly $2 billion.”
“The FCPA is a strong enforcement mechanism, and we are not shy about using it.”
On Holding Non-U.S. Actors Accountable
“We have traditionally also pursued foreign executives who work for U.S. corporations or for foreign corporations that trade on U.S. exchanges, as well as the foreign corporations themselves. For example, in 2007, Christian Sapsizian, a French citizen and former executive at Alcatel, pleaded guilty to two counts of violating the FCPA, and in 2008 he was sentenced to 30 months in prison on those charges. In addition, we recently resolved a wide-ranging investigation against the Swiss-based freight-forwarding company Panalpina World Transport (Holding) Ltd., its U.S. subsidiary, and several foreign and domestic oil and gas service providers. Thus, as the Sapsizian and Panalpina cases show, any Russian citizen working for an American company in Russia or for a Russian company that trades on an American exchange, as well as any Russian company that trades on such an exchange, are also within our reach.”
“We have on more than one occasion brought charges against foreign officials under U.S. money laundering statutes, alleging that those officials laundered the proceeds of foreign bribery through U.S. financial institutions. In 2009, for example, we indicted two former Haitian government officials on money laundering charges for their alleged roles in a scheme to bribe officials of Haiti’s state-owned national telecommunications company. Thus, as the Haiti Teleco case shows, Russian officials who launder the proceeds of foreign bribes through U.S. financial institutions could also be liable for FCPA-related offenses.”
On the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative
“… Last year our Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section initiated a Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, which is designed to target and recover the proceeds of foreign official corruption that have been laundered into or through the United States. In November of 2009, at the Global Forum on Fighting Corruption and Safeguarding Integrity, in Qatar, Attorney General Holder pledged to redouble the United States’ commitment to recovering foreign corruption proceeds. The Kleptocracy Initiative represents a concrete step toward fulfilling that commitment; and once the initiative is fully implemented, it will allow the Justice Department to recover assets on behalf of countries victimized by high-level corruption.”