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Breuer: busting overseas graft is ‘at our core’

Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer (Photo courtesy of the United States Department of Justice)Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer made it clear Friday that FCPA enforcement won’t let up any time soon.

‘Combating corruption around the world is, and will remain, a priority of the United States,’ Breuer said.

He was speaking at ACI’s 28th National Conference on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Since 2009, Breuer said, the number of prosecutors working on FCPA cases has doubled.

He called anti-corruption one of the DOJ’s ‘signature achievements.’

The anti-corruption message resonates in every country, Breuer said, ‘because everyone – from the fruit stand owner in Tunisia, to the oil rig worker in Nigeria, to the punk rock musician in Russia – knows how pernicious corruption can be.’

He said the United States is in a unique position to spread ‘the gospel of anti-corruption’ because of its enforcement record.

Breuer gave a shout out to Morgan Stanley. He said the bank cooperated with the DOJ and SEC, demonstrated that it maintained a rigorous compliance program, and trained employees on the FCPA.

‘So we decided not to bring any enforcement action against the bank. But [Garth] Peterson had to face the music,’ Breuer said. 

Peterson, once in charge of real estate deals in China for Morgan Stanley, pleaded guilty to an FCPA-related offense and is now serving a nine month sentence in federal prison in Edgefield, South Carolina.

Breuer, citing the Arab Spring, said the global anti-corruption fight is on the right side of history.

‘The idea that a company could get away with bribing foreign officials for the sake of corporate profits didn’t make sense 35 years ago,’ he concluded. ‘It doesn’t make sense today.’

Breuer’s full remarks are here.

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