Last week, Wiley Rein published its annual Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) Year-in-Review article for 2014.  The article provides statistics on enforcement actions and penalties, an analysis of investigative trends and more, chronicling the extremely busy past year in FCPA enforcement.  Some of the highlights from the year-in-review include:

  • 2014’s enforcement activity included two of the largest FCPA enforcement actions of all time, as well as two of the biggest FCPA disgorgements to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).  U.S. enforcement authorities brought actions against ten companies last year, resulting in $1.56 billion in corporate monetary penalties – the highest annual amount since the record-breaking FCPA enforcement year of 2010.  While both the Department of Justice (DOJ) and SEC brought actions against companies from industries not traditionally associated with FCPA enforcement, investigations also continued to target certain sectors, such as technology/communications, energy, healthcare and aircraft.
  • Individuals too were the target of FCPA enforcement efforts in 2014.  The DOJ arrested or indicted at least six individuals on FCPA charges.  Another six persons chose to plead guilty to such charges, rather than fight the charges in court.  As DOJ FCPA Unit head Patrick Stokes stated in March, “prosecuting individuals as well as institutions is a significant focus for the FCPA unit, and it’s a trend that’s going to continue.”
  • The past year also saw continued growth in global cooperation among anti-corruption enforcement agencies, as well as increased foreign government enforcement of their own anti-bribery laws.  Authorities in Brazil, China and the United Kingdom each pursued enforcement actions under their domestic legislation last year, while governments around the world worked together to gather evidence and provide assistance in ongoing anti-bribery investigations.

After an active year characterized by large corporate enforcement actions and penalty amounts, Wiley Rein’s Year-in-Review predicts that 2015 will be another busy year for FCPA enforcement.  Robust enforcement activity is likely to continue in the corporate sphere – with settlements concluded for some of the more-than-100 companies currently under investigation, such as Embraer or perhaps even Wal-mart.  Individuals as well will continue to face heightened FCPA scrutiny; indeed, DOJ has already landed its first indictment of the year against an individual on FCPA charges.