In this recent testimony before the House Financial Services Committee, SEC Chair Mary Jo White stated: “as in other areas, the Commission is focused on holding individuals accountable in FCPA cases.” (emphasis added).
The numbers do not support White’s statement.
As highlighted in this recent post, since 2008 approximately 85% of SEC corporate FCPA enforcement actions have not (at least yet) resulted in any related SEC action against company employees.
Indeed, prior to the SEC’s November 2014 FCPA enforcement action against Stephen Timms and Yasser Ramahi (individuals who worked in sales at FLIR System Inc.) there was a 2.5 year gap in any SEC individual enforcement actions. During that 2.5 years, the SEC brought 19 corporate enforcement actions and not one involved any related SEC action against company employees.
As to the accountability portion of White’s statement, the two SEC individual FCPA enforcement during the last three years (the above Timms / Ramahi action and the January 2015 action against former PBSJ International employee Walid Hatoum) involved SEC administrative orders in which the individuals were allowed to settle without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings.
It is debatable what is more concerning.
A political actor making assertions without knowledge of and/or understanding of the underlying facts.
Or a political actor making assertions with knowledge of and/or understanding of the underlying facts, but making the political statement anyway.
Regardless of the cause or reason prompting Chair White’s recent statement, the numbers do not support her assertion that the SEC is “focused on holding individuals accountable in FCPA cases.”