The fight against corruption took a new course in 1977 with US enactment of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and again 20 years later with the adoption of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Anti-Bribery Convention. This November, the Program on Corporate Compliance and Enforcement (PCCE) hosted a conference to examine the impact of these measures on corporate behavior and law enforcement priorities.
The US Department of Justice (DOJ), the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the OECD co-organized the event, entitled: “No Turning Back: 40 Years of the FCPA and 20 Years of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention Impacts, Achievements, and Future Challenges.” The day-long conference explored the role of cooperation between nations in investigating and prosecuting bribery.
“Bribery threatens national security, good governance, development, and democratic processes,” said Kenneth Blanco, acting assistant attorney general of the criminal division at the DOJ, in a keynote address. “It strikes and undermines the rule of lawand breeds distrust. It empowers authoritarian rulers and destabilizes regions. It corrodes public trust and inflicts particular harm on emerging economies.”
Blanco noted that the achievements of the FCPA and the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention so far have been encouraging, pointing out that a peer review process established under the convention has motivated countries to attain high levels of compliance for anti-corruption provisions. Since 2016, the DOJ has brought more than 35 cases against individuals and 27 cases against corporations in bribery cases, resulting in $1.6 billion in fines and penalties. Working with foreign partners, for example, the DOJ announced in January 2017 that its investigation of Rolls-Royce revealed $35 million in bribes and led to the company’s payment of $170 million in US penalties as part of an $800 million global resolution.
Steven Peikin, co-director of the division of enforcement at the SEC, also praised the FCPA in a keynote address and said that the legislation has been a key SEC enforcement tool for four decades. In 2010, the SEC formed a specialized FCPA enforcement unit, which to date has brought 106 actions against 138 individuals.
Looking ahead to continuing FCPA enforcement, Peikin referred to SEC chair Jay Clayton’s remarks at an SEC roundtable organized by PCCE in September: “Bribery and corruption have no place in society.”
Peikin said he expects the SEC to continue working closely with foreign enforcement authorities. “In an increasingly international enforcement environment, US authorities cannot go it alone in fighting corruption. No one agency or country can fight bribery and corruption alone,” he said.
“I am optimistic that the next 40 years of the FCPA and the next 20 of the OECD will be equally, if not more, successful,” said Peikin.
Posted November 29, 2017