Earlier this week, leaf tobacco merchant Alliance One International Inc., (see here) announced record revenue, gross profit and operating income (see here).
The company also announced (see here at p. 8) that its negotiations with the DOJ and SEC to resolve previously disclosed Foreign Corrupt Practices Act issues “have reached a stage at which an agreement in principle has been reached and we are able to estimate a probable loss in connection with these matters of $19.45 million for any disgorgement, fines and penalties.”
I’ve posted before about the FCPA and reputational damage (see here) and posed the question whether companies that disclose FCPA issues or settle FCPA enforcement actions actually suffer any reputational damage?
For every company like Avon that has its credit downgraded during an FCPA investigation (see here), there seems to be more instances like Alliance One (i.e. a company doing just fine, in some cases really fine, notwithstanding an FCPA investigation or resolution of an FCPA enforcement action).
This raises the question – do customers, potential customers, and investors of an affected company even care if the company discloses FCPA issues or resolves an FCPA enforcement action?
Or, because of how the FCPA has come to be enforced (i.e. enforcement actions based on dubious and untested legal theories, subject to little or no judicial scrutiny, and subject to little or no legal defense by the company because of what that may mean in terms of cooperation) do customers, potential customers and investors of an affected company view the FCPA with a collective yawn?
If Alliance One sounds familiar, you have a good memory.
In April, the SEC resolved an FCPA enforcement action against individuals employed by predecessor companies of Alliance One (see here).
Often times, it is the company that first resolves an FCPA enforcement action that is then followed by (although not in all cases) an enforcement action against culpable employees.
For another tobacco company that also recently announced record earnings as well as a pending FCPA enforcement action (see here) regarding Universal Corporation.