The FCPA: The New SEC and DOJ Enforcement Priority – Part 1: Introduction

Until recently, neither DOJ nor the SEC have focused their enforcement efforts on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”). Although the statutes were passed in 1977 and amended in 1988, for years enforcement did not appear to be a priority, while critics claimed that laws put U.S. business at a disadvantage – essentially the same claim many are currently asserting with regard to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. By 1996, the world began to follow suit. Now many countries have adopted similar legislation.

Now, FCPA enforcement also appears to be the new DOJ and SEC enforcement priority. Last year, DOJ and the SEC brought 38 FCPA cases. That compares to only 15 enforcement cases in 2006. In addition there are currently reportedly 100 open FCPA law enforcement investigations. See, e.g., 39 Sec. Reg. L. R. 157 (Oct. 15, 2007).

This occasional series will examine the FCPA and recent SEC and DOJ enforcement efforts. In segments over the next few weeks, the series will::

1. cover the statutes;
2. review the recent court decisions interpreting key provisions;
3. identify penalty trends and discuss the large penalties imposed last year;
4. examine key case trends;
5. discuss significant cases which are heading to trial this year; and
6. provide an analysis of the trends in enforcement.

Next: The statutes: an overview of the bribery provisions and the books and records and internal control provisions.