What we do
Our law firm helps our clients avoid problems under the FCPA by designing effective due diligence controls, training relevant personnel and agents, and by drafting contracts and procedures. Our attorneys assist clients under investigation or indictment for suspected FCPA violations.
About the FCPA
Over the past few years, many of the largest and best known companies have found themselves in trouble under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), our country’s main law prohibiting the bribing of foreign officials. Some of these companies are under investigation or have reported violations under the law, while other companies are being forced to pay fines and penalties, typically in the millions of dollars and often in the tens of millions of dollars.
The FCPA has its roots in Watergate, the political scandal in the early 1970s that ended in the resignation of US President Richard Nixon. Prosecutors discovered that hundreds of US companies, many of them household names, were using off-book slush funds in foreign countries to make illegal contributions to the Nixon presidential campaign and to bribe foreign officials. But there were not any laws to effectively punish these bribes because they happened mostly on foreign soil. As a result, the US Congress passed the FCPA in 1977. The FCPA was amended in 1988 and 1998.
The FCPA is the world's first law prohibiting the bribing of foreign officials. Thanks to the USA’s efforts, other countries joined this effort: anti-bribery laws similar to the FCPA now blanket the world.
The FCPA is an unusual law because it is enforced by two federal agencies: The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The DOJ handles all criminal and civil prosecutions of companies and individuals. The SEC handles all civil cases against companies that are traded publicly in the US. Individually, each of these agencies has extensive enforcement powers. When they work in tandem, as they usually do, their reach and power are overwhelming.
There is no such thing as a slap on the wrist under the FCPA. Beyond the millions of dollars in penalties, company officials are receiving prison sentences more and more often. The Federal Government can issue injunctions and subpoenas to collect evidence, testimony, and documents. Enforcement officials will typically require the guilty company to hire an independent third party to institute and oversee an enforceable anti-bribery program for all employees and foreign agents. If you are the target of an FCPA investigation, you are likely to see other laws used against you, including money laundering, racketeering, and obstruction of justice.