Congress enacted the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) in 1977 to prohibit U.S. companies from bribing government officials to obtain business. The FCPA criminalizes any payment to a foreign official anywhere in the world if the payer makes that payment to influence that foreign official to provide a business benefit. The FCPA also requires companies with publicly traded stock in the U.S. to meet strict standards regarding their accounting practices, books and records, and internal controls.
In recent years, the SEC and DOJ have radically increased their aggressiveness in investigating and enforcing FCPA matters. They have imposed larger penalties, and the SEC has frequently forced companies to disgorge any profits obtained through the FCPA violation. The DOJ has also increased the number of new prosecutions against companies as well as individuals — now bringing almost twice as many prosecutions against individuals as companies. There is also now a clear trend, as part of any settlement agreement, toward appointing third-party compliance monitors to ensure that the transgressor complies with the FCPA and to report that ongoing compliance to the DOJ and SEC. At the same time, non-U.S. regulators are following the U.S. lead and taking a progressively tougher line with companies and individuals embroiled in bribery investigations.
Thompson & Knight lawyers are well-qualified to help clients address the challenges of this environment of enhanced examination and regulation. We draw on the expertise of corporate and trial lawyers with years of experience representing public reporting companies, nonprofit organizations, directors, and officers in a wide variety of investigations involving civil and criminal regulators at both the state and national levels.
Our attorneys have had extensive training and hands-on experience in FCPA investigations, audit committee review, and compliance programs. Thompson & Knight attorneys speak on a regular basis to directors, management, and audit firms on best and worst practices in conducting and managing internal investigations. Furthermore, one of our attorneys is the author of International Corruption (Sweet & Maxwell, 2010), one of the leading publications on the subject and the only one to address anti-bribery investigations and compliance from a multi-jurisdictional perspective.