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A Reminder Why Congress Chose To Exempt Facilitating Payments From The Reach Of The FCPA’s Anti-Bribery Provisions

reminder

The State Department recently released this Investment Climate Statement for the Dominican Republic. It caught my eye not because the Dominican Republic is a prominent market for U.S. business, but rather because information in the statement provides a nice reminder why Congress chose to exempt facilitation payments from the reach of the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions.

In pertinent part, the statement reads:

“Foreign investors report numerous systemic problems in the Dominican Republic and cite a lack of clear, standardized rules by which to compete and a lack of enforcement of existing rules. Complaints include allegations of widespread corruption; requests for bribes; delays in government payments; weak intellectual property rights enforcement; bureaucratic hurdles; slow and sometimes locally biased judicial and administrative processes, and non-standard procedures in customs valuation and classification of imports. Weak land tenure laws and government expropriations without due compensation continue to be a problem. The public perceives administrative and judicial decision-making to be inconsistent, opaque, and overly time-consuming. Corruption and poor implementation of existing laws are widely discussed as key investor grievances.”

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Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry Updates Guidance to Prevent Foreign Bribery

METI

A guest post from Tokyo-based Latham & Watkins attorneys Kaede Toh and Junyeon Park.

In May 2021, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) revised the Guidelines for the Prevention of Bribery of Foreign Public Officials (Guidelines). Although the Guidelines do not impose legal obligations on companies, METI expects each company to create and implement an appropriate compliance system with reference to the Guidelines. The revised Guidelines include detailed guidance on due diligence prior to executing an acquisition or retaining a third-party agent — largely consistent with US government expectations under the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) — and urge Japanese companies and global companies with business operations in Japan to prohibit small facilitation payments. Companies that have business operations in Japan should understand and incorporate the most recent changes to the Guidelines into their local company compliance system to the extent appropriate.

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Observations From The OECD’s Phase 4 U.S. Review Report

oecd

Recently, the OECD released its Phase 4 review of the United State’s implementation of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention … in effect a review of the FCPA, its enforcement, and related issues.

The first question one needs to ask themselves is whether they care what “experts from Argentina and the United Kingdom” (as stated by the OECD “the report and its recommendations reflect the findings of experts from Argentina and the United Kingdom”) think about the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, U.S. law enforcement (DOJ and SEC) policies and practices, and U.S. jurisprudence.

In any event, the Phase 4 Report “explores issues such as detection, enforcement, corporate liability, and international cooperation, as well as covering unresolved issues from prior reports.” (See here for a 2010 post summarizing the OECD’s Phase 3 review).

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Survey Says …

Survey Results

The OECD recently released this study titled “Corporate Anti-corruption Compliance Drivers, Mechanisms and Ideas for Change.” The study largely relies on results of a survey “to better understand the extent to which companies are currently motivated to take measures to prevent and detect bribery and other forms of corruption in their business dealings.”

The survey size was very small (only 130 survey respondents – largely individuals in a legal or compliance role in their companies – with the U.S. having the most respondents – with the largest number of respondents in the healthcare industry). As a result the survey was not representative as even the report recognized: “a company that does not have a compliance program probably would not have an interest in participating in a study of such program – thus it is important to remember that the percentage of respondents who indicated that their companies have such a program is not at all indicative of the percentage of overall companies in the world that have such programs.”

Even as to this survey group, as highlighted below several survey responses caught my eye and call into question whether “soft” enforcement of the FCPA (and related laws) has been successful (see here for the article “Has the FCPA Been Successful in Achieving Its Objectives”) or whether compliance can best be incentivized with a compliance defense (see here for the article “Revisiting an FCPA Compliance Defense”).

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