On April 30, 2019, Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski announced an updated version of the Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs (the “Updated Guidance”). This Updated Guidance supersedes a document of the same name that the Fraud Section of DOJ’s Criminal Division published online in February 2017 without any formal announcement (the “2017 Guidance”). Although not breaking much new ground, we believe the Updated Guidance can serve as a valuable resource for those grappling with how best to design, implement, and monitor an effective corporate compliance program.
In contrast to the 2017 Guidance—which listed dozens of questions to consider in evaluating a compliance program without providing much context—the Updated Guidance employs a more holistic approach. It focuses on three fundamental questions drawn from the Justice Manual:
Is the corporation’s compliance program well designed?
The beginning of the year allows us to look back at recent developments in the white collar front involving Brazil and the United States, and prompts us to consider what to expect going forward, especially in light of the election of President Jair Bolsonaro and the appointment of former judge Sergio Moro as Minister of Justice.
Lava Jato, Carne Fraca, and Zelotes are among the Brazilian anti-corruption operations that have echoed in the United States over the last few years. Intensified cooperation between authorities in the two countries has fueled countless investigations, settlements, convictions, and related civil litigation. U.S. criminal enforcement also has reverberated in Brazil, with the FIFA prosecutions being perhaps the most headline-making example. Continue reading →
On August 24, 2018, the Second Circuit handed down its long-awaited decision in United States v. Hoskins,  addressing the question of whether a non-resident foreign national can be held liable for violating the FCPA under a conspiracy theory, where the foreign national is not an officer, director, employee, shareholder or agent of a U.S. issuer or domestic concern and has not committed an act in furtherance of an FCPA violation while in the U.S. In a word, the court held that the answer is “no,” concluding that the government may not “expand the extraterritorial reach of the FCPA by recourse to the conspiracy and complicity statutes.” The court added, however, that the same foreign national could be liable as a co-conspirator if he acted as an agent of a primary violator.
While the ruling is undoubtedly an important curb on some potential sources of liability for foreign entities and individuals, the availability of agent liability may limit the practical impact of the decision for many non-resident foreign nationals. Unfortunately, the decision did not address the scope of agent liability under the FCPA, leaving that issue open. As a result, further development in this and subsequent cases — especially with respect to the meaning of “agency” under the FCPA — will necessarily be required before the full impact of the Hoskins ruling becomes clear. However, the decision is likely good news for foreign companies that enter into joint ventures with U.S. companies and some other classes of potential defendants, as it may be harder for the U.S. government to charge them with FCPA violations. Continue reading →
In a decision that makes clear the importance for counsel conducting internal investigations to think carefully about the consequences of providing oral summaries of witness interviews to government investigators, a federal Magistrate Judge recently held that a law firm waived work product protection for its interview memoranda when counsel provided oral downloads of those interviews to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). Noting that “very few decisions are consequence free events,” the Court held that there was “little to no substantive distinction” for purposes of work product waiver between providing the actual notes and memoranda and reading or orally summarizing the notes. The Court, however, rejected the notion that a waiver of work product protection extends to information the law firm shared with its client’s accounting firm, holding that the accounting firm and the company shared a “common interest.” Continue reading →
Among the flurry of resolutions in the final days of the Obama administration, two “repeat offenders” settled FCPA cases: Zimmer Biomet Holdings, Inc. (“Zimmer Biomet”) and Orthofix International N.V. (“Orthofix”). Zimmer Biomet and Orthofix are hardly the first such “repeat offenders.” In July 2016, Johnson Controls Inc. (“JCI”) settled an enforcement action involving activities of a Chinese subsidiary with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), and the DOJ simultaneously “declined” to bring any charges. Each of these companies was a “repeat offender” in having previously settled FCPA-related allegations.
By analyzing and comparing these three recent resolutions, this Article highlights factors that may influence whether U.S. authorities bring follow-on FCPA enforcement actions and, if so, what penalties they seek to impose. As discussed below, companies are well advised to make concrete compliance enhancements in an effort to avoid recidivist status and the significant penalties that can accompany a second resolution. Continue reading →
On September 29, 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) issued two letters “closing its investigations” into alleged violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by HMT LLC, a Texas based manufacturer, supplier and servicer of above ground liquid storage tanks, (the “HMT Declination”) and NCH Corporation, a Texas based industrial supply and maintenance corporation (the “NCH Declination). Unlike in the three earlier “declinations” the DOJ issued since the start of its FCPA Enforcement “Pilot Program,” the companies here (HMT and NCH) are not issuers, so there were no parallel Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) enforcement actions. Each declination also includes what are described as findings of the DOJ’s investigation underlying violations of the FCPA and a requirement that each company pay “disgorgement” to the U.S. Treasury. The HMT and NCH declinations therefore raise the question of whether and to what extent the Pilot Program, in addition to offering guidance on how to receive a declination, has altered the meaning of what a declination ordinarily will be. Specifically, under what circumstances can a company receive a declination without the DOJ publicizing its “findings” and the company paying disgorgement (i.e., a “clean” declination)? Continue reading →