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Trump, The $50 Million Dollar Moscow Penthouse, And The FCPA


There are some people convinced that businessman Donald Trump must have violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act given his international real estate projects and other business ventures. In the past few years, I spoken to several journalists, both before November 2016 and after, about such issues but I have never been quoted in any of the articles because my legal analysis of the information provided did not fit the narrative the journalist was pursuing. (See here and here for example).

The latest FCPA article regarding Trump is here from Bloomberg and states:

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Democratic Senator Asks The DOJ, “As Rapidly As Possible,” To Issue An Advisory Opinion “Whether Executives Of The Trump Organization And Related Companies – Including President Trump Himself” Are Violating The FCPA


Last Friday, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) issued this press release (with an accompanying letter) asking the DOJ, “as rapidly as possible,” to issue an advisory opinion “whether executives of The Trump Organization and related companies – including President Trump himself” are violating the FCPA.

As highlighted in this post, there are certain deficiencies in Senator Blumenthal’s letter. Moreover, while the FCPA expressly authorizes the DOJ to issue FCPA advisory opinions, Senator Blumenthal clearly does not qualify as a requestor.

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SEC Chair Nominee Clayton – Because Of Exposure To FCPA And Related Laws “There Are Some Jurisdictions Where In The Vast Majority Of The Cases It May Make Sense Just Not To Participate”

Sullivan & Cromwell partner Jay Clayton testifies before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs during his confirmation hearing to become the next Chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington.  March 23, 2017.

The flawed New Yorker article about the Trump Organization and its potential FCPA liability (see prior posts here and here as well as additional commentary here) continues to percolate.

During yesterday’s Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs hearing on Jay Clayton’s nomination to head the SEC, the below exchange took place between Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Clayton.

It was the only Foreign Corrupt Practices Act related question posed to Clayton during the hearing. (See this prior post for coverage of a report titled“The FCPA and its Impact on International Business Transactions – Should Anything Be Done to Minimize the Consequences of the U.S.’s Unique Position on Combating Offshore Corruption?” by the Clayton-chaired International Business Transactions Committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York).

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About That New Yorker Trump Organization Azerbaijan Story

kidding me

For years FCPA Professor has highlighted numerous examples of – shall I say – not the media’s finest moments when it comes to Foreign Corrupt Practices Act reporting. (See here, here, here and here).

Although FCPA Professor has highlighted several examples, Adam Davidson’s recent New Yorker article about the Trump Organization in Azerbaijan (see here for the original post highlighting several concerns about the article) and his subsequent comments and writing about the matter are in a league of their own.

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About That New Yorker Trump Organization Azerbaijan Story

raising hand

On February 23rd, I received an e-mail from Adam Davidson with a re: line “New Yorker Magazine on the FCPA” which stated in pertinent part “I’m writing an article about a fascinating case of potential FCPA violation and would welcome the chance to discuss.”

Since launching FCPA Professor in 2009, I’ve had hundreds of conversations with journalists writing about the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, but my 45 minute conversation with Davidson on February 23rd was the strangest, most concerning conversation I’ve ever had with a journalist about the FCPA.

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