Over the last year, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) together closed more than 50 enforcement actions under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) against businesses engaged in commercial activity beyond the borders of the United States. Those investigations netted fines and penalties of nearly $2.5 billion—the most substantial transfer of corporate wealth under the auspices of the FCPA in any year since its inception. Another 17 senior officers and directors were charged individually with federal offenses or faced civil fines, while a host of other employees lost their jobs as a result of their involvement in suspect business transactions abroad. And we now know that the greatest number of enforcement actions across the history of the FCPA program have arisen in connection with business activities in China, surpassing Nigeria, the next most common venue, by a considerable margin.
For years, FCPA observers have predicted that the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) will increase its prosecutions of corporate officers and employees for FCPA violations. These predictions have so far proven disputable, as the number of individual FCPA prosecutions has remained essentially flat and DOJ has struggled to convict individual FCPA defendants. However, high-ranking DOJ and SEC officials have recently stated their commitment to focus more on individual FCPA violators. DOJ has affirmed its focus with last fall’s Deputy Attorney General’s Memorandum on Individual Accountability for Corporate Wrongdoing (the “Yates Memo”).
The International Practice Group of Garvey Schubert Barer is a cross-disciplinary group of attorneys practicing in areas ranging from business transactions, immigration, maritime, government regulatory work, transportation and logistics, and estate planning. The group members include bilingual and multicultural attorneys who are well-versed in handling these subject matters in a cross-border context. The firm’s attorneys have been actively practicing in the international arena since the early 1970s.