Leslie Caldwell, the chief of the DOJ’s criminal division, does well at explaining why enforcing the FCPA and fighting corruption is a priority for the United States. Here’s part of what she said Wednesday at ACI’s 31st international conference on the FCPA at National Harbor, Maryland:
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[C]orruption is far more insidious and harmful than can be measured numerically. We all know that when corruption takes hold, the fundamental notion of playing-by-the-rules gets pushed to the side, and individuals, businesses and governments instead begin to operate under a fundamentally unfair — and destabilizing — set of norms. This undermines confidence in the markets and governments, and destroys the sense of fair play that is absolutely critical for the rule of law to prevail.
In emerging economies, corruption stifles economic development that would lift people out of poverty, improve infrastructure, and better people’s lives. And the fruits of corruption can prop up autocratic and oppressive rulers even in wealthier countries.
Make no mistake, the effects of foreign corruption are not just felt overseas. In today’s global economy, the negative effects of foreign corruption inevitably flow back to the United States. For one, American companies are harmed by global corruption. They are denied the ability to compete in a fair and transparent marketplace. Instead of being rewarded for their efficiency, innovation, and honest business practices, U.S. companies suffer at the hands of corrupt governments and lose out to corrupt competitors.
International corruption also presents broader public safety concerns. Indeed, criminal networks of all kinds, including narcotics traffickers, cyber criminals, terrorists, and human traffickers, often take advantage of countries whose commitment to the rule of law is weakened by corruption of its officials. And, as we’ve seen in the more extreme cases, thoroughly corrupted regimes have created safe havens for criminals by giving them a secure base from which they can orchestrate their criminal activities.
You have no doubt heard my predecessors speak of the evils of corruption. It is because of these evils that the fight against international bribery has been, and continues to be, a core priority of the Department of Justice.
Our commitment to the fight against foreign bribery is reflected in our robust enforcement record in this area, which includes charges against corporations and individuals alike from all over the world.
Since 2009, we have convicted more than 50 individuals in FCPA and FCPA-related cases, and resolved criminal cases against more than 50 companies with penalties and forfeiture of approximately $3 billion. Twenty-five of the cases involving individuals have come since 2013 alone. And those are just the cases that are now public. These individuals run the gamut of actors involved in bribery schemes: corporate executives, middlemen, and corrupt officials.
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The full remarks of Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell at American Conference Institute’s 31st International Conference on the Foreign Corrupt Practices at National Harbor, Maryland on November 19, 2014 are here.
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.