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‘White Collar, Blue Collar’ FCPA Defendants

A reader who wants to remain anonymous sent the following comment:


Dear FCPA Blog,

I enjoyed your recent post on the varying FCPA sentences.

My observations are that there seem to be differences in the “white collar” v. “blue collar” sentences. I define white collar as executives at very large multinationals. They seem to get little or very light sentences. On the other hand, blue collar executives are those who are at small or family controlled companies. They seem to be getting the longer sentences and appear disproportionately non-American (heritage). I haven’t done any research on this, but that’s my impression.

My thinking as to the cause of the white collar – blue collar discrepancies would be very basic and based on the assumption that the dichotomy actually exists in a statistically significant way.

That said, my theory is that larger companies pay larger fines that the DOJ is satisfied (or was satisfied several years ago) with in lieu of harder to achieve criminal prosecutions. A more gentle way to state the theory is that the DOJ would like to go after all potentially culpable individuals, but that getting evidence from overseas and dealing with the political implications is too problematic.

For the blue collars, it may be as simple as economics. They don’t have the big-time FCPA attorneys, they don’t have the deep pockets or other deep-pocketed fellow conspirators to turn in.

Perhaps even appearing to be more of a criminal as opposed to a victim makes a difference. Judges in some of the white collar cases seem to be more sympathetic to the reality of the environment rather than to the ugliness of the corruption. They may not see it that way in the blue collar cases. Hard to tell for sure…but interesting to try to decipher.


[Name withheld]


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