Contrary to some expectations, the Trump Administration Department of Justice imposed record penalties under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act from 2017 through 2020. But in each of those years, fewer and fewer new FCPA investigations were initiated. We expect the Biden Administration to continue the trend of increasing FCPA enforcement settlement values, while also increasing the pace of initiating new FCPA investigations. Anticorruption matters present some of the most severe threats to a company’s organizational integrity. Understanding the changing enforcement culture is an important component to addressing those threats.
Continue Reading The Next Four Years of FCPA Enforcement: What to Expect From the Biden Administration

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

The U.S. Treasury Department has signaled the latest focus of its enforcement: real estate ventures with ties to money laundering schemes. Individual real estate investors and companies involved in luxury real estate, real estate development or investment, property management, and escrow or mortgage services around the globe should heed Treasury’s warnings.
Continue Reading Are You Within Reach of Anti-Money Laundering Enforcement? The Tentacles of Money Laundering Schemes Affect Real Estate Investors Worldwide

On October 10, 2014, the U.S. Department of Justice announced a civil settlement with Teodoro (“Teddy”) Nguema Obiang, Vice President of Equatorial Guinea and eldest son of the country’s current President, under the DOJ’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative. Through a combination of forfeiture and divestment, Obiang agreed to turn over $30 million in U.S.-based assets purchased in a “corruption-fueled spending spree,” according to the DOJ. Those assets include a Malibu mansion, Ferrari, and $1 million for life-size Michael Jackson statues Obiang had expatriated from the United States to Equatorial Guinea. He gets to keep a Gulfstream jet and most of his other Michael Jackson paraphernalia, however, including the red leather jacket MJ wore in “Thriller” and the white crystal-covered glove from the king of pop’s “Bad” tour. The settlement dollar-value represents less than half of what the DOJ sought; Obiang managed to send a bulk of his U.S.-based assets outside the United States, including several luxury cars. But the case still represents significant progress in the U.S. government’s anti-corruption efforts, particularly because this action was brought against an official still in power, and most of the settlement amount will be used for the benefit of the people of Equatorial Guinea.


Continue Reading Take the Mansion, But Leave the Thriller Jacket: DOJ Settles with Equatorial Guinea Veep for $30 Million in Assets Bought With Corrupt Proceeds

Anti-corruption due diligence can be vexing even in the best of conditions; it is often made more complicated by time and business pressures that arise in the context of a merger or acquisition or an urgent sales opportunity.  Anti-corruption compliance is always fact-intensive, and due diligence is no exception, requiring many judgment calls about what issues to prioritize and how to deploy limited resources.  This article aims to provide a basic outline of seven key steps to consider in anti-corruption due diligence.
Continue Reading Beyond the Checklist: Seven Keys to Effective Trade Due Diligence

By: James Zimmerman and Cheryl Palmeri

The recent enforcement of Chinese anti-bribery laws against British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) highlights the compliance challenges faced by foreign companies operating in China.

GSK’s Chinese subsidiary is accused of funneling almost $500 million in bribes to doctors and hospitals in China exchange for purchasing or prescribing the company’s products.  The alleged bribes included sexual favors, cash, and invitations to join high-end academic conferences.  GSK employees also allegedly accepted kickbacks and improper commission fees, issued fake invoices, and wrote special bills related to the value-added tax.



Continue Reading Lessons Learned from the GlaxoSmithKline Bribery Investigation

By: Reid Whitten and Thad McBride

For years, a significant number of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) enforcement actions have focused on or involved the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Chinese subsidiaries, or Chinese officials.  It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the PRC is fertile ground for corruption: many of its major industries are dominated by state-owned or -controlled companies.  A tradition of gift-giving and hospitality may blur the distinction between friendly gesture and kickback.  And the sheer volume of business transacted in the country makes policing illicit exchanges for business advantages a tall order for any enforcement agency.
Continue Reading Is China Getting Serious or Redirecting Responsibility? New guidance on Chinese Anti-Bribery Enforcement

By: Thad McBride and Cheryl Palmeri

On June 28, 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice executed a forfeiture order over $401,931 in assets traceable to Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha, the former governor of Bayelsa State, Nigeria.  Mr. Alamieyeseigha served as governor of Bayelsa State from 1999 until December 2005, when he was impeached on corruption allegations.  Following his impeachment, Mr. Alamieyeseigha pleaded guilty in Nigeria to money laundering and failing to disclose a bank account in Florida.  In 2007, he was sentenced to two years in prison.

Continue Reading Department of Justice Obtains First Forfeiture Judgment Under the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative

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

By: Thad McBride and Cheryl Palmeri

On February 24, 2012, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged three executives of Noble Corporation (Noble), a Swiss oil services company, with violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). The SEC accused Noble’s former CEO and the company’s current Division Manager in Nigeria of arranging hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from 2003 to 2007. According to the SEC, the bribes were to induce Nigerian customs officials to grant new temporary permits and extensions to allow Noble’s oil rigs to remain in the country improperly. Both individuals are disputing the charges.


Continue Reading A Noble Pursuit? SEC Brings FCPA Charges Against Individual Oil Services Executives