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Once Again, Rebooting A Long-Standing FCPA Proposal, This Time In The Aftermath Of A Recent Disclosure By Avianca Holdings

proposal

Including the first time I proposed this concept in 2010, this is the 1oth time I have written this general post (see herehereherehereherehereherehere and here for the previous versions). Until things change I will keep writing it which means I will probably keep writing this same general post long into the future.

The proposal is this: when a company voluntarily discloses an FCPA internal investigation to the DOJ and/or SEC and when one or both of the enforcement agencies do not bring an enforcement action, have the enforcement agency publicly state, in a thorough and transparent mannerthe facts the company disclosed and why the enforcement agency did not bring an enforcement action based on those facts.

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An Episode Of White Collar Briefly

WhiteCollarBriefly

Today’s post is a recent episode of White Collar Briefly, a podcast sponsored by Perkins Coie and co-sponsored by the ABA Global Anti-Corruption Corruption.

During the podcast, I had the pleasure to visit with Chelsea Curfman and Markus Funk and talked about the following issues: my professional background; the evolution of my work; FCPA Inc.; the revolving door between the DOJ and SEC and private FCPA practice; what the end game of FCPA enforcement is and what does success actually mean; the downside of other countries modeling enforcement of their FCPA-like laws on U.S. FCPA enforcement; the lack of individual enforcement actions in connection with most corporate enforcement actions; whether FCPA enforcement will change in a Biden administration; voluntary disclosure; and whether there are any recent trends in FCPA enforcement.

Potpourri

Potpourri

FCPA Whistleblower Bounty?

The SEC recently announced “an award of over $5 million to joint whistleblowers whose tip caused the opening of an investigation that resulted in a successful enforcement action.” According to the SEC,  “the whistleblowers provided significant information about misconduct abroad that directly supported certain allegations in the enforcement action.”

The accompanying order is heavily redacted, but does mention that the underlying enforcement action “involved misconduct abroad” and was resolved through an administrative proceeding.

My guess is that the underlying action was likely an FCPA enforcement action. If true, this would be rare instance of a bounty being paid out in connection with an FCPA enforcement action.

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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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The Biggest Loser In The Beam Enforcement Action Is FCPA Enforcement

biggestloser

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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