Monday, June 23, 2008

White Collar - Foreign Corruption

DOJ Increases Prosecution of Corruption by American Companies Overseas - The federal government is increasingly bringing criminal charges focusing on corruption overseas. Most often considered is prosecution under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act ("FCPA"). In the typical FCPA scenario, a corporate officer pays a bribe to a foreign official. Equally important although less often considered by corporate officers is the increased use of standard mail/wire fraud statutes to prosecute foreign corruption. In these instances corrupt actions utilized to maintain or established business relationships may be the focus of wire fraud or mail fraud investigations. All that is required is the foreseeable use of the mails or an interstate wire transmission.

Corporate compliance officials should have a well considered compliance program. Moreover, the program must not exist only on paper. The best system would involve the creation of an adequate program, effective implementation of the program, and periodic testing to establish that it is operating as intended.

While a company can take significant steps to reduce the likelihood of falling on the wrong side of foreign corruption enforcement, no compliance program is perfect. In the event of a company learning of a possible illegal overseas activity by an employee, it is important for the company to obtain outside counsel to perform a full internal investigation. The parameters of any problem must be known for the company to make important decisions regarding how to proceed.

Any company doing business overseas may find itself in the midst of a criminal investigation. It does not just happen to other companies.

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