In early January, Washington lawyer Bill Steinman said in a post for the FCPA Blog that 2016 was likely to be a big year for FCPA enforcement. His words were prophetic.
Already this year, there have been eight corporate FCPA enforcement actions. The eight settling companies paid a total of $497.6 million for the resolutions.
In all of 2015, there were eleven corporate resolutions with total payments to the DOJ and SEC of $133 million. That led many to think the days of big-time FCPA enforcement were over. But not Steinman.
“As I swirl the proverbial tea leaves,” he said at the start of the year, “I foresee continued robust FCPA enforcement in 2016.”
Among his reasons:
The DOJ brings enforcement actions . . . . when it brings enforcement actions. It’s not working on a fixed schedule or trying to “hit its numbers.”
FCPA investigations can take a long time. When they start, no one knows when they’ll end. An enforcement action can come sooner, or it can come later. Or not at all.
There were more than 80 corporate FCPA investigations pending at the start of the year. That’s a big backlog.
The DOJ Fraud Section said it was doubling the number of lawyers it will have doing FCPA cases by hiring ten new prosecutors.
The FBI more than quadrupled the number of special agents assigned to FCPA investigations — from 5 to 23 — and budgeted $15 million for its special FCPA units.
(The DOJ’s Leslie Caldwell cited the last two stats in Tuesday’s announcement of the new pilot program for self reporting and cooperation in FCPA cases. That pilot program will also drive up enforcement activity.)
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In early January, before the enforcement surge during the first quarter, Steinman said: “We should avoid the temptation to see 2015 as the start of a downward trend.”
“As heightened FCPA enforcement enters its second decade,” he said, “we should look at the entire picture, and gird ourselves for what promises to be a very busy year.”
Revisit Bill Steinman’s January 11 post here.
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.