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What Does The SEC FCPA Unit Chief Do?

[The below post has been revised since first posted]

Wonder no longer.

Given Cheryl Scarboro’s recently announced departure from the FCPA Unit Chief position (see here for the prior post), the SEC recently posted the opening for the position.

The “Major Duties” portion of the job posting is actually an interesting and informative read.

Want proof that the SEC executes “targeted sweeps and sector-wide investigations.” It is in the job description.

The “Major Duties” section of the job posting states, in full, as follows.

“The Division of Enforcement assists the Commission in executing its law enforcement functions by, among other things, conducting investigations of possible violations of the federal securities laws, making recommendations to the Commission concerning enforcement actions and initiating and conducting administrative proceedings and civil actions arising out of its investigations. The Division of Enforcement’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Unit operates on a nationwide basis, exercises the full range of the Division’s investigative and law enforcement powers and focuses on actual and suspected violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (collectively, “FCPA”) . The Unit is comprised of staff from the Division of Enforcement and Regional Offices. The principal functions of the Unit include developing and maintaining significant specialized knowledge and expertise in the identification and investigation of FCPA violations. Members of the Unit gain in-depth knowledge of industries and regional practices as they may relate to potential FCPA violations on a global basis. Over the course of its investigations, and from case-to-case, the Unit develops specialized insights and understanding of foreign business practices by U.S. and international public companies involving all manner of questionable payments (bribes, kickbacks, gratuitous payments etc.) involving foreign officials, U.S. and foreign executives and the agents and intermediaries through whom they may operate. The Unit seeks to expand the Commission’s global reach in this area by executing targeted sweeps and sector-wide investigations, identifying systemic practices that give rise to potential FCPA violations and aggressively enforcing anti-bribery statutes. The Unit selects cases that present unique legal, evidentiary and policy challenges and attempts to develop case law and legal precedent that will have the greatest deterrent impact on conduct that violates the FCPA. Members of the Unit establish contacts and forge close relationships with foreign regulators and law enforcement authorities and US counterparts, including the U.S. Department of Justice and other federal and state regulatory authorities with interests in this area. The Unit communicates with staff throughout the Commission, the Division and regions and with other specialized units to disseminate information, share analysis, develop and distribute high quality enforcement leads and determine investigative strategies. The Unit performs risk assessment relating to areas within its specialty and communicates with the Division and other Commission offices and divisions concerning its findings. The Unit conducts regular and ongoing training for its staff, engages in public outreach and represents the Commission in industry meetings, conferences and other market-related events.”

One has to reach far into FCPA history to discover an instance where the SEC was challenged in an adversary proceeding and put to its burden of proof in an FCPA case. Thus the following sentence from the job description was a bit amusing – “the Unit selects cases that present unique legal, evidentiary and policy challenges and attempts to develop case law and legal precedent that will have the greatest deterrent impact on conduct that violates the FCPA.”

The position, only open to current SEC employees, has a pay range of $150,372 to $226,160.

However, the prestige of this position, the national and international platform it provides for speeches etc., and the knowledge and experience gained will allow the successful applicant (should he or she choose) a smooth transition into an FCPA private practice career at a major law firm and the ability to make several times the above salary range.

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