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

Remember how we talked about bipartisan legislation introduced in March 2017 (which seems like a million years ago) to investigate the Russian media outlet RT for spreading propaganda without registering as a foreign agent? Since then, you might have seen (including in our blog, here) the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) starting to rise from obscurity.
Continue Reading FARA and the First Amendment: How will the United States Calibrate its Response to Foreign Propaganda?

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

You may have heard of the Yates Memorandum, which sets forth current Justice Department policy on corporate cooperation with criminal investigations. But the Securities and Exchange Commission has just announced another significant policy change, which hasn’t garnered the same attention: self-disclose or forfeit access to key favorable case dispositions.
Continue Reading When Voluntary Self-Disclosure Isn’t so Voluntary: SEC Says Self-Disclose or Forfeit Non-Prosecution and Deferred Prosecution

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

In a recent Opinion Procedure Release (OPR), Number 14-02, the U.S. Department of Justice expressly limited successor liability for a US company purchasing a non-US company that had paid bribes in the past.  In so doing, DOJ may have given a little bit of comfort to US companies and issuers thinking about purchasing non-US companies.  But as described below, we emphasize “little bit.”
Continue Reading DOJ Issues Opinion, Provides (Some) Comfort on Successor Liability

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