This recent post about the Rio Tinto FCPA enforcement action posed the lingering question of whether FCPA enforcement is a convenient cash cow for the U.S. government. After all, when several former FCPA enforcement officials suggest as much, what are the rest of us supposed to think?
After all, in the Rio Tinto matter the U.S. extracted $15 million from a company (with headquarters in Australia and the United Kingdom) after the SEC found that the company hired a French investment banker and close friend of a former senior Guinean government official as a consultant to help the company retain mining rights in Guinea. Even though both Australia and the United Kingdom have laws and law enforcement resources to adequately address the conduct at issue, the SEC nevertheless got involved because the company had American Depository Shares that traded on a U.S. exchange.
Earlier this week (and on the same day as the Rio Tinto matter was announced), the SEC also announced a $4 million FCPA enforcement action against Flutter International (a company headquartered in Ireland) – the successor in interest to The Stars Group (a company that was headquartered in Canada) – based on the finding that the “Company paid approximately $8.9 million to consultants in Russia in support of the Company’s operations and its efforts to have poker legalized in that country.” Even though both Ireland and Canada have laws and law enforcement resources to adequately address the conduct at issue, the SEC nevertheless got involved because The Stars Group at one time had shares traded on a U.S. exchange.