Is your company in a high-risk zone? Does it have the following risk characteristics?

Your company imports more than $10 million of goods.
You are mid-market: between $50 million and $2 billion in annual turnover.
Your company has experienced higher than average growth in revenues, personnel, or imports over the past 2 – 10 years.

If your company fits this profile, you may be at an elevated risk of customs violations. Many companies in this high-risk zone have outgrown their customs compliance function. Without knowing it, they may be creating violations and, since the statute of limitations is five years, they may not know about the violations until the government comes knocking on their door years after the fact.
Continue Reading Sick without Symptoms: How Multi-Million Dollar Customs Issues are Ailing U.S. Companies Without Warning

On August 29, it was announced that the U.S. Department of Justice is considering an investigation into Uber, the San Francisco-based technology company that has expanded its ride-sharing service abroad to more than 70 countries. Press reports indicate that DOJ may investigate potential violations by company personnel of the U.S. law against foreign bribery, known as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). On the same day, the company confirmed the review and said that it was cooperating with the Justice Department on the matter.
Continue Reading Growing Pains for Expanding Tech Companies: Uber Investigated for FCPA Violations

Ok, ok, don’t panic. Maybe not all of the millions of dedicated readers of this blog are in violation.

Nevertheless, as of June 1, if your company does business in France, it may be time to check your anticorruption compliance obligations.
Continue Reading Oh, Hadn’t You Heard? You’re Violating French Law Right Now! France Gets Serieuse about Anti-Corruption

Like a needle to a balloon, the Schrems decision has drastically altered the data privacy landscape. Who is affected? Everyone – consumers, corporations, employees. But who needs to take action? Any company with offices in the European Union and the United States, any European company that outsources work to the United States (do you know where your cloud is?), and any company that sends information from the EU to the United States.
Continue Reading The Schrems Decision: How the End of Safe Harbor Affects Your FCPA Compliance Plan

On March 12, 2015, Commerzbank AG, Germany’s second largest bank and a global financial institution, agreed to pay $1.45 Billion (yes, with a “B”) in forfeitures and fines to the U.S. Government for violating U.S. sanctions against Iran and Sudan. The amount paid by Commerzbank under the settlement will not be shocking to those who read our reporting on the BNP Paribas penalty of $8.9 Billion (again, that is a “B”) for similar sanctions violations.
Continue Reading The Broader Problem: European Bank Creates an Easy Catch for the Long Arm of U.S. Jurisdiction

On March 25, 2015, the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced that PayPal Inc. (“PayPal”) agreed to pay $7.7 million to settle 486 violations of U.S. economic sanctions.  According to OFAC, for several years until 2013, PayPal, one of the world’s largest electronic payment companies, did not have adequate compliance processes to “identify, interdict, and prevent” transactions that were in apparent violation of OFAC sanctions programs.  Specifically, PayPal did not employ adequate screening procedures and technology to identify transactions involving U.S. sanctions targets.
Continue Reading Paying the Piper: PayPal Inc. Settles Sanctions Violations with OFAC for $7.7 Million

With our political system suffering from a growing chasm down party lines, our public servants seem to be increasingly vulnerable to public pressure.  Politicians scramble to fight for whatever cause du jour will garner them the most support.  And lately, no political act is guaranteed to please Main Street quite so much as blaming the U.S. banking system for the country’s woes.  (It is not just the government attacking the banks; as we reported here, Arab Bank of Jordan is currently facing penalties after a jury of its peers decided the bank was liable for seemingly attenuated violations of the Anti-Terrorism Act.)
Continue Reading Round Two: Prosecutors Reopen Bank Settlements

On August 14, 2014, Joel Esquenazi and Carlos Rodriguez filed a Petition for a writ of certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court seeking clarification of a key term in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.  Among other arguments, Esquenazi and Rodriguez (the “Petitioners”) state that the FCPA “leaves open the pivotal question of who qualifies as a ‘foreign official’” because the law does not define what it means to be an “instrumentality” of a foreign government.  The Department of Justice has waived its right to respond to the Petition, possibly signaling that the government believes the issue does not warrant the Court’s review.  Last week, the Washington Legal Foundation and the Independence Institute, a pro-business policy group and think-tank respectively, filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the Petition, arguing that the case is of exceptional importance to the business community.
Continue Reading Who’s a “Foreign Official”? Supreme Court Could Clarify Key FCPA Term

A red sky at morning is the traditional harbinger of ill weather. From our vantage point in Brussels, we’ve scanned the horizon for signs of the future of anti-bribery enforcement activity in Europe. We’ve identified four factors that are starting small, but may build into heavy seas.

In particular, there are signs that companies that sell to governments in Europe may be well advised to shore up compliance procedures so they can remain dry if a wave of anti-corruption sentiment breaks over the public procurement sector.


Continue Reading Shelter from the Coming Storm: Anti-Corruption Compliance in European Public Procurement

By: Mark Jensen

Notwithstanding our overall approval of the FCPA Resource Guide (the Guide) issued by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) earlier this month, we are certainly not above a bit of criticism.

To that end, those who have investigated and settled FCPA cases after choosing to cooperate with the government will be familiar with the instruction to do “homework” following a meeting.  The direction generally requires a deeper dive into specific facts or issues identified by the DOJ and/or SEC.  While directed by the government, the homework instruction nonetheless allows the investigation target a lot of leeway about how to get the homework done.

The same approach infuses the Guide.
Continue Reading What’s Not in the New FCPA Resource Guide, or Why Doing Your FCPA Homework is Still a Good Idea

By: Reid Whitten

The story of one man prosecuted by the SEC and the DOJ for an FCPA violation may run a little below the radar these days, when allegations of bribery by manufacturing, retail, and entertainment companies plaster the headlines.  The guilty plea entered by an ex-Morgan Stanley executive, Garth Peterson, however, holds a very important lesson for companies that do not wish to see their own names on the broadsheets above a story about corruption enforcement actions. The lesson is simple: robust corporate compliance can protect a company even when a high-level employee commits brazen acts of bribery.
Continue Reading A Man Overboard Will Not Sink the Ship: How Robust FCPA Compliance Can Keep a Company Out of Hot Water Even When An Executive is Neck Deep