If you attended the ABA’s Section of International Law 2014 Fall Meeting, held October 21-25 in Buenos Aires, chances are that you attended at least one panel on anti-corruption-related issues. It’s no coincidence that the meeting featured five separate panels addressing international anti-corruption compliance and enforcement – national (and even multi-national) regulators are increasingly active, and global businesses must contend with an increasing number of regulators and rules.
Panels at the meeting discussed issues such as the misunderstandings and unforeseen consequences that arise when implementing anti-corruption compliance programs, and conducting internal investigations in unfamiliar or numerous legal jurisdictions. There were also programs focused on the various anti-corruption statutes that apply to global corporations in different circumstances, beyond the most-familiar U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and the UK Anti-Bribery Act, on the growing cooperation between various global law enforcement agencies, on anti-corruption compliance in the context of both mergers/acquisitions and immigration, and on trends in Latin American anti-corruption regulation.
Although some commentators have noted a decrease in FCPA enforcement actions so far this year, several countries (including Brazil and Russia) have recently enacted new anti-bribery legislation, while others (such as China) appear to have stepped up enforcement of their own anti-corruption regimes. And despite the apparent decline in the number of enforcement actions this year, FCPA enforcement remains a clear U.S. government priority. Indeed, Alcoa’s $384 million settlement with the Department of Justice earlier this year was the fifth-largest FCPA settlement ever, and DOJ has not been shy in pursuing indictments of individuals on FCPA charges in 2014. Overall, then, the ABA Section of International Law 2014 Fall Meeting’s emphasis on anti-corruption-related issues was timely, and unsurprising.