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FCPA Inc. Desparately Needs Some Basic Standards


In 2010 I coined the term “FCPA Inc.” as shorthand term used to describe a vibrant, niche industry consisting of numerous market participants and not just lawyers. Regardless of what you think of the term, FCPA Inc. has become part of the FCPA lexicon and it is undisputed that FCPA Inc. is a multi-billion dollar industry.

Yet this niche industry lacks basic standards and the lack of standards causes untold amounts of confusion. My article “A Common Language to Remedy Distorted FCPA Enforcement Statistics” focuses on the lack of standards regarding the basic issue of “what is an FCPA enforcement.”The establishment and acceptance of a common language (and standards) is a sign of maturity in many professions, yet FCPA Inc. also lacks standards for even the most basic task of assembling a list of the Top Ten FCPA Enforcement Actions.

It’s been said that a picture is worth 1,000 words and thus what follows is 3,000 words of visual proof of this troubling dynamic through reference to the recent Telia enforcement action (see here and here for prior posts).

The standard for assembling a list of the Top Ten FCPA Enforcement Actions ought to be rather basic.

It’s called accurate and consistently applied math. In terms of the later, this means that if you off-set FCPA settlement amounts for related foreign law enforcement actions in certain enforcement action (such as VimpelCom and Odbrecht/Braskem) you do this for all FCPA settlement amounts in which this dynamic is present (such as Telia).

This further means (and I can’t believe I actually have to write this) that a Top Ten List of FCPA Enforcement Actions should only include enforcement action in which the corporate defendant was actually charged with FCPA (as opposed to other) offenses.

When one performs accurate and consistently applied math, the recent Telia FCPA enforcement action is not the largest, third largest, or fourth largest FCPA enforcement action of all-time, but rather the fifth largest. (See here for the list of Top Ten FCPA Enforcement Actions).


Related to the above, a big public thank you to the many people who have contacted me in recent months (via e-mail, telephone calls, social media mentions, and in-person discussions) thanking me for my stepped-up fact checking of FCPA information. Not everyone likes facts, but most sophisticated observers.

In my experience the only ones offended by facts are those who peddle fallacies or false narratives who melt like precious snowflakes and go into meltdown mode when confronted with factual information.

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