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FCPA Flash Podcast – A Conversation With Jane Shvets Regarding 2020 FCPA Developments

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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 podcast episode is a conversation with Jane Shvets (Debevoise & Plimpton). Recently, the firm released it always informative FCPA Update and during the podcast Shvets talks about: (i) FCPA relevant portions of the recently enacted National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021; (ii) whether the DOJ’s “anti-piling” policy is indeed true in practice; (iii) the unusual Beam enforcement action and what it says about FCPA enforcement; and (iv) what the future may hold for FCPA enforcement.

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The Biggest Loser In The Beam Enforcement Action Is FCPA Enforcement

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For years, the DOJ has encouraged business organizations to voluntarily disclose Foreign Corrupt Practices Act issues.

For years, the DOJ has talked about transparency, consistency and predictability when it comes to FCPA enforcement. For instance, as highlighted in this prior post, in 2018 the DOJ’s Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General gave a speech in which he stated that the DOJ recognizes “the need for better defined ‘rules of the road’ in corporate enforcement” and that the DOJ “has taken affirmative steps to make our prevailing ‘rules of the road’ as plain and predictable as possible.” Numerous other DOJ speeches or policy statements could also be cited.

This post highlighted the DOJ’s recent $19.6 million enforcement action against Beam Suntory – a highly unusual development given that the SEC previously brought a related enforcement action against the company approximately 2.5 years ago concerning the same core conduct. As highlighted in the prior post and below, several other aspects of the DOJ enforcement action were also unusual.

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In A Highly Unusual Development, DOJ Brings A $19.6 Million Enforcement Action Against Beam Approximately 2.5 Years After The SEC’s Related Action

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DOJ and SEC Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement actions against issuers based on the same core conduct are relatively common. However, such actions are nearly always coordinated and announced on the same day.

In a highly unusual (although not unprecedented) development, the DOJ announced yesterday a $19.6 million FCPA enforcement action against Beam Suntory Inc. based on the same core conduct in India at issue in the SEC’s July 2018 FCPA enforcement action against the company (see here).

Another unusual aspect of the Beam DOJ action was the DOJ’s position that the company did not voluntarily disclose. In contrast, in the 2018 SEC enforcement action the SEC said that the company voluntarily disclosed.

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Issues To Consider From The Beam Enforcement Action

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This post highlighted the SEC’s recent $8.2 million FCPA enforcement action against Beam Inc. (now known as Beam Suntory Inc.) concerning conduct in India. This post continues the analysis by highlighting additional issues to consider.

Time Line

As highlighted in this prior post, Beam was under FCPA scrutiny since late 2012. Thus from start to finish, its FCPA scrutiny lasted approximately 6 years.

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Beam Pours $8.2 Million Into The Treasury And Becomes The Latest Alcoholic Beverage Company To Resolve An FCPA Enforcement Action Based On India Conduct

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First it was alcoholic beverage company Diageo based on conduct in India and elsewhere (see here).

Then it was alcoholic beverage company ABInBev based on conduct in India (see here).

Yesterday, the SEC announced yet another Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action against an alcoholic beverage company for conduct in India.

This time it was Beam Inc. (now known as Beam Suntory Inc.) which up until April 2014 had shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange until Suntory Holdings Limited (a Japanese company) acquired Beam which thereafter delisted from the NYSE.

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