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“Frankly, If You Bring In A Couple Billion Dollars A Year, You Just Keep On Going,” And Other Musings From Former FCPA Prosecutors


This Trace International Bribe, Swindle or Steal podcast is a recording of a recent panel discussion between former FCPA prosecutors Charles Duross (DOJ), Nat Edmonds (DOJ) and Richard Grime (SEC).

It is an informative listen on several levels including voluntary disclosure and international cooperation and set forth below are some of the more candid comments from the former FCPA prosecutors.

The podcast begins with a discussion of FCPA enforcement in the Trump administration and whether any changes to FCPA enforcement might occur in 2020 and beyond. Consistent with the prediction in this November 2016 post, the former FCPA prosecutors agreed that nothing has really changed in terms of FCPA enforcement in the Trump administration.

Around the 5 minute mark of the podcast, Grime talks about FCPA enforcement in the future and candidly states: “frankly, if you bring in a couple billion dollars a year you just keep on going.”

Grime is hardly the first person to talk about the cash cow dynamic of FCPA enforcement. As highlighted in this prior post, many people (including other former prosecutors) and groups have voiced similar concerns including William Jacobson, a former DOJ Assistant Chief for FCPA enforcement, who stated in a 2010 American Lawyer article that “[t]he government sees a profitable program, and it’s going to ride that horse until it can’t ride it anymore.”

At approximately the 9 minute mark of the podcast, there is a candid discussion of voluntary disclosure and all former prosecutors seemed to agree that voluntary disclosure is not always the best decision despite what many of them used to say about the topic while they were at the government.

For instance, Edmonds candidly stated:

“I will admit that I am a person who has totally changed what I’ve said [laughter]. [T]here are videos of me traveling around the world telling companies to disclose, disclose, disclose […] the reason for that is fundamentally when I was with the government I was serving my clients … the U.S. government and the people of the United States.”

Edmonds flip-flop is just the latest example of an issue highlighted in this prior post titled “In the FCPA Space, Who Speaks For Whom?” The prior post discussed how FCPA enforcement attorneys often just carry forward DOJ/SEC talking points and then change their positions when leaving government.

The candor of Edmonds is to be applauded, yet it again demonstrates why those in the FCPA space should take comments by FCPA enforcement officials with a grain of salt because they are merely just representing a client and probably do not even believe a large amount of what they are saying.

Another candid observation during the podcast was made by Grime, the former SEC enforcement official. Commenting on the difference between U.S. FCPA enforcement and what goes on in the rest of the world, Grime stated:

“the SEC as a civil enforcement agency, the types of cases the SEC brings, nobody else around the world brings, you don’t see books and records cases on the low levels of activity and the nit-picking that goes on in some of those SEC orders anywhere else in the world.”

See this FCPA Flash Podcast with Grime in which he makes similar comments.

I highly recommend the Trace International podcast with the former FCPA enforcement officials and encourage you to come to your own conclusions about FCPA enforcement including whether it is little more, in certain instances, than a game of aberrations and gotcha.

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