I was released from prison for FCPA offenses just over six years ago today, and three years ago gained restoration of my travel and other civil rights. So when I hear now about convictions or guilty pleas in FCPA and other white-collar cases, I understand the gut-wrenching uncertainty that these individuals face.
Starting with pre-sentencing conditions, the pre-trial report, designation (where you will serve your prison sentence), and then the surrender date (your first day of incarceration), it’s a process filled with enormous anxiety. For me, being in prison was less stressful than the uncertainty of facing prison. As someone shared with me beforehand, at least on your first day of prison you can start counting down the days until your release.
This year my holiday message to those defendants who face the unknown is to prepare for inevitable surprises, both unpleasant and otherwise. Those “otherwise” moments for me started in prison, where despite major health setbacks, I had the unexpected opportunity to help inmates learn to read, write, and acquire basic math skills.
The surprises continued after my release, including being asked to be a Contributing Editor of the FCPA Blog, whose other editors hadn’t treated me gently for my own FCPA offenses.
Earlier this month there was another surprise when I was invited to chair the International Chamber of Commerce’s International Integrity & Anti-Corruption Conference in The Hague.
On a day I will never forget, I told the audience in my opening remarks:
As someone who faced justice ten years ago for bribery offenses in the United States and the United Kingdom, to be chairing a program that takes place in the halls of justice, in the city of justice, is an honor that is truly difficult for me to ascribe to words. Coming just two weeks short of my release from prison just six years ago, this is an honor that was once unimaginable.
And so my message to anyone who might be facing anxiety and uncertainty is that even when the days are so very dark, there’s another, brighter side. For me, two essential ingredients to moving forward were patience and prayer, but everyone has to find and follow their own path.
As this decade comes to a close, I wish all readers of the FCPA Blog a healthy and happy holiday season, and I thank you for your support.
And to all those colleagues who were with me at the Peace Palace at The Hague on December 6, a very special holiday greeting. And a sincere thank you for being incredibly patient with my well-intentioned yet inevitably mangled Dutch pronunciations.