On February 29, Wiley Rein published its annual Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) Year-in-Review article: In a Nutshell: What You Need to Know About the FCPA in 2015. The article provides statistics on enforcement actions and penalties, an analysis of investigative trends and more, chronicling another busy year in FCPA enforcement. Some of the points covered in the article follow below.
- U.S. enforcement authorities continued to pursue FCPA violations by corporations aggressively, bringing major enforcement actions against 11 companies in 2015. Corporate penalty amounts totaled approximately $139 million. While this represents a significant decrease from 2014’s $1.56 billion in corporate monetary penalties, recent policy guidelines, staff changes, and administrative procedural changes all suggest that the DOJ and SEC are gearing up for what promises to be a busy 2016 and beyond.
- In 2015, U.S. authorities prosecuted and/or indicted 15 individuals on FCPA charges, continuing to make good on their promise to focus on prosecuting individuals for FCPA violations. Eleven of those individuals pleaded guilty to one or more charges. Also of interest regarding FCPA enforcement against individuals, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates issued a new policy memorandum in September 2015, addressing individual accountability for corporate wrongdoing and outlining six key steps that government attorneys must follow in investigations.
- FCPA enforcement also encountered some setbacks in 2015, with U.S. authorities encountering at least two significant litigation losses. In United States v. Hoskins, a judge found that the U.S. government’s effort to apply the FCPA’s restrictions to a non-resident foreign national acting abroad constituted an unacceptable expansion of jurisdiction under the FCPA. In United States v. Sigelman, the trial of PetroTiger Ltd.’s former CEO ended mid-trial when a key government witness admitted to lying on the stand, leading the parties to enter into a plea agreement in which Sigelman pleaded guilty to only one charge
Clearly, the FCPA continues to be a significant enforcement priority for the U.S. Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission. The number of government staff dedicated to FCPA enforcement continued to grow in last year, and the government’s rhetoric against corruption remained sharp. With at least 84 companies currently subject to investigation, according to the FCPA Blog, there is every indication that 2016 will continue to see robust FCPA enforcement.
Wiley Rein’s article can be accessed here.