Archive for the ‘FCPA Scholarship’ Category

Book Review – “The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act In A New Era”

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

New EraToday’s post is a book review by Professor Peter Reilly (Texas A&M University School of Law and author of several FCPA articles) of my book “The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act In A New Era.”  The review originally appeared in a recent volume of International Trade Law and Regulation.

*****

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in a New Era, by law professor Mike Koehler, provides a fascinating and thorough analysis of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”).  But the book does far more than that; this volume attempts to educate readers in such a manner that they understand not only the motivation and thought processes behind the initial passage of the Act, but also the ongoing policy debates surrounding this important and controversial piece of legislation.

While some books on the FCPA appear to target a particular audience, such as academics for example, this volume will prove useful to anyone, in whatever field, who wants to thoroughly understand the past, present, and future of the FCPA, whether that person is engaged in business, law, government, academia, public policy, or any other pursuit or profession.

Professor Koehler’s insightful presentation and analysis of material on the FCPA likely comes from his unique background in the field.  Prior to academia, Koehler was an FCPA attorney in private practice where he advised clients on FCPA compliance matters, conducted FCPA investigations around the globe, and negotiated resolutions to FCPA enforcement actions with government agencies including the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.  Professor Koehler explains how his work in private practice led to an intense interest in “asking the why questions” regarding the FCPA and “injecting a candid and informed scholarly voice into the issues.”

This, in turn, led to a career in academia with a near-singular focus on mastering the complex and fascinating topics surrounding the FCPA and other anti-corruption laws and initiatives.  In this capacity, Koehler has testified before the U.S. Congress on the FCPA, published articles on the topic in leading law reviews and journals, been cited in legal briefs, judicial decisions, policy papers, and Congressional testimony, and been a featured source in various national and international media.  In short, Professor Koehler has become one of the most knowledgeable and influential thinkers in the field, both domestically and internationally, and this volume represents the fruit of a number of years of thoughtful research, writing, and teaching on the subject.

The depth and breadth of material covered in the book is ambitious, including the FCPA’s legislative history; enforcement agency policies and practices, including various alternative dispute resolution vehicles commonly used by enforcement agencies; FCPA legal authority, as well as administrative and other sources of guidance concerning the law; the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions, as well as its books and records and internal controls provisions; reasons for the increase in FCPA enforcement during the past decade; compliance and best practices information; and suggested FCPA reform measures.

At the beginning of the book, Professor Koehler sets forth numerous questions, many of which could take an entire law review article to answer.   These questions include: (1) Who decides what bribery is? (2) Are business organizations that are subject to FCPA scrutiny ‘bad’ or ‘unethical’? (3) Is it still ‘bribery’ if the conduct in question was supported by the highest levels of the U.S. government? (4) If bribery is ‘bad,’ does that mean that all attempts to punish bribery and deter future misconduct are ‘good’? (5) Why has FCPA enforcement increased to the point that it is now a top legal and compliance concern for companies doing business in the global marketplace? (6) Has the quantity of FCPA enforcement actions become a higher priority for enforcement agencies than the quality of those actions? (7) Why does FCPA compliance remain difficult for even the most well-managed and well-intentioned companies? (8) Has this ‘new era’ of FCPA enforcement actually resulted in wasteful over compliance, with companies viewing every foreign business partner with irrational suspicion? (9) Is this ‘new era’ of FCPA enforcement—along with the ‘thriving and lucrative anti-bribery complex’ that has emerged simultaneously—desirable from a legal or policy perspective? (10) Has this ‘new era’ of FCPA enforcement been successful in actually reducing bribery?  And if not, could the FCPA be amended, or could certain enforcement agency policies and procedures be revised, in order to better achieve the original aims of the FCPA?

The book addresses the issues surrounding these questions at a surprisingly detailed and in-depth level, especially with respect to those questions requiring answers that are more subtle and complex in nature.  The fact is there can be strong disagreement regarding the answers to many of these questions.  One of the more interesting aspects of studying the FCPA is to consider how much a person’s political or economic interests can influence his or her reasoning in answering the various questions posed by Koehler.  The key is that Professor Koehler, ever the law school teacher who is more fond of questioning, probing, and analyzing an issue than of trying to force feed his own conclusions in the matter, concentrates on building knowledge and skill-level within readers so they themselves can successfully grapple with the questions presented in the book, as well as their own questions involving the FCPA.

Specifically, Professor Koehler relies on numerous vehicles and texts to build what he calls “FCPA goggles” for readers, enabling them to understand the FCPA to the extent necessary to make their own assessments of the strengths and weaknesses of the law, and to be able to pinpoint areas where the FCPA might be changed for improvement.  Readers are introduced to the FCPA’s statutory text, legislative history, judicial decisions, enforcement agency guidance, and various enforcement actions.  Koehler believes that analyzing these various authorities, and figuring out their impact upon how the FCPA is understood and enforced, are key aspects of providing readers with the knowledge they need to continue their own questioning, probing, and analyzing of this controversial law.  As Professor Koehler says to the reader, “[W]ith your FCPA goggles you now have a sharper focus to critically analyze various aspects of this new era, including whether the current FCPA and its enforcement best advance the laudable objectives of the FCPA.”

It is these ‘FCPA goggles’ that allow readers to judge the two suggestions for reform put forth by Professor Koehler toward the end of the volume:  a compliance defense, as well as the abolition of Non-Prosecution and Deferred Prosecution Agreements (NPAs and DPAs) within the context of FCPA enforcement.  I will leave it to readers of the book to determine for themselves, through their own ‘FCPA goggles,’ whether Koehler has made a strong case for either suggested reform measure.  I will say, however, that Professor Koehler seems to be aware that he has well-equipped readers to subject his ideas to deep and knowledgeable scrutiny based upon what he has taught them to that point in the book.  With that in mind, Koehler has to carefully explain why, for example, a compliance defense is neither a new nor novel idea; how in some respects the Department of Justice already recognizes a ‘de facto’ compliance defense; how numerous former high-ranking government officials support such a defense; and which important policy objectives would be advanced through an FCPA compliance defense.  Koehler builds and bolsters his argument by relying upon various testimony and legal and policy authority.  It almost feels like an academic ‘capstone’ exercise for the book, where the Professor puts forth his arguments and then turns to the reader/student and asks, “Have I done what I set out to do in this project?  Are you now able to thoroughly question, analyze, and criticize my arguments based upon what you have learned through this book?”

The answer is unequivocally yes; and the contribution this new volume makes to the field is unequivocally substantial.

*****

For additional reviews of the book, see here.

To order a hard copy of the book, see here and here; to order an e-copy of the book, see here and here.

 

New Article – Ten Seldom Discussed FCPA Facts That You Need To Know

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

FactsBloomberg BNA’s White Collar Crime Report recently published my article “Ten Seldom Discussed FCPA Facts That You Need To Know.”

If you want to develop a sophisticated understanding of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and related topics, you should read the article.

The article can be downloaded here and it begins as follows.

“Much is written about the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. However, amid the clutter of enforcement agency rhetoric and resolution documents not subjected to any meaningful judicial scrutiny as well as the mountains of FCPA Inc. marketing material touting the next compliance risk, there are certain FCPA facts that are seldom discussed.

Yet such facts, covering the entire span of the FCPA (from the statute’s enactment, to its statutory provisions, to FCPA enforcement, to FCPA reform, to the FCPA industry itself) occasionally bear repeating.

This article does that by highlighting ten seldom discussed FCPA facts that you need to know.”

 

A Look Back At 2014 FCPA Enforcement And Related Developments

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

2014 year in reviewEach year, in addition to numerous posts published on this site, I author a year a review / recent developments article devoted to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and related issues.

The 2014 version is forthcoming in the Santa Clara Journal of International Law and can be downloaded for free here.

Among the issues addressed in the article are the following:

  • A wide variety of FCPA enforcement statistics from 2014;
  • A comparison of enforcement statistics from 2014 to prior years;
  • The wide spectrum of FCPA enforcement actions from 2014 and how the breadth of such allegations send confusing compliance messages to those subject to the FCPA;
  • The wide gap between corporate and individual FCPA enforcement and a relevant data point which helps explain the gap;
  • The surge in SEC administrative actions to resolve alleged instances of FCPA scrutiny and why the surge is problematic;
  • The most important FCPA legal development from 2014; and
  • How judicial scrutiny of enforcement theories related to FCPA enforcement should cause pause as to certain FCPA enforcement theories.

Combine the 2014 year in review article with the ones below and you will have an extensive collection of FCPA statistics, trends, and analysis over time.

For 2013, see here.

For 2012, see here.

For 2011, see here.

For 2010, see here.

For 2009, see here.

A Comprehensive FCPA Resource

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

The question was recently asked: ”will there ever be a classic treatise on the FCPA?”New Era

According to Webster’s, a treatise is a book, article, etc., that discusses a subject carefully and thoroughly.

With that definition in mind, I invite you to consider my new book “The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in a New Era.”  Inside you will find:

  • A thorough telling of the story of the FCPA told largely through original voices of actual participants who shaped the pioneering law;
  • Foundational knowledge (such as DOJ and SEC policy and resolution vehicles and the realities of the global marketplace) that best enhance understanding and comprehension of specific FCPA topics;
  • A comprehensive analysis of the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions and for each element, exception or affirmative defense discussion of all legal sources of authority (including all relevant substantive FCPA judicial decisions) as well as non-legal sources of information (including discussion of over 70 FCPA enforcement actions);
  • Discussion of other legal issues also relevant to FCPA enforcement;
  • A comprehensive analysis of the FCPA’s books and records and internal controls provisions including legal authority as well as non-legal sources of information;
  • Analysis of the typical origins of FCPA scrutiny and enforcement;
  • Discussion of FCPA settlement amounts, how they are calculated, and analysis of legal and policy issues relevant to settlement amounts;
  • Discussion of FCPA sentencing issues, how sentences are calculated, and an analysis of legal and policy issues relevant to sentencing decisions;
  • An extended discussion and analysis of an often overlooked topics, “FCPA Ripples,” and how settlement amounts in an actual FCPA enforcement action are often only a relatively minor component of the overall financial consequences that can result from FCPA scrutiny or enforcement;
  • An exploration of practical and provocative reasons for the general increase in FCPA enforcement during this new era including a discussion of FCPA Inc. and the business of bribery;
  • Identification and discussion of FCPA compliance best practices and benchmarking metrics; and
  • An in-depth discussion and analysis of FCPA reform designed to ensure that the FCPA is best achieving the original goals of the law and that FCPA enforcement is transparent and consistent with rule of law principles.

Whether the above topics highlighted and explored in “The FCPA in a New Era” make it a classic treatise, well, I invite you to come to your own conclusion.  At the very least, you will have to agree that the cover of the book is more inviting than a typical treatise.

While I am certainly not going to ascribe labels to my own work, I am pleased to share what others have said about “The FCPA In a New Era.”

Michael Mukasey, former U.S. Attorney General

“Professor Koehler has brought to this volume the clear-eyed perspective that has made his FCPA Professor website the most authoritative source for those seeking to understand and apply the FCPA. This is a uniquely useful book, laying out systematically the history and rationale of the FCPA, as well as its evolution into a structure governed as much by lore as by law. It will be valuable both to those who counsel international corporations, whether in connection with immediate crises or long-term strategies; and to those who contemplate what the FCPA has become, and how it can be improved.”

Professor Daniel Chow, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law

“This is the single most comprehensive academic treatment of the Foreign Corrupt Practices available. Professor Koehler’s book will become the authoritative standard for the field. The book not only treats the history of the FCPA, but analyzes the statute’s elements in detail, discusses current cases, and makes proposals for reforms where the current law is deficient. The book is written in a clear, accessible style and I will use it often as a resource for my own scholarly work.”

 Richard Alderman, former Director of the UK Serious Fraud Office

“An excellent and thought-provoking book by a great expert. Backed up by rigorous analysis of cases, Professor Koehler constantly challenges those involved in anti-corruption work by asking the question ‘why?’ He puts forward many constructive and well-argued suggestions for improvements that need to be considered. I have learned a lot from Professor Koehler over the years and I can thoroughly recommend this book.”

Thomas Fox, FCPA Compliance and Ethics Blog and FCPA Practitioner

“The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in a New Era” should become one of the standard texts for any FCPA compliance practitioner, law student studying the FCPA or anyone else interested in anti-bribery and anti-corruption. It should be on your FCPA library bookshelf.”

Barry Vitou, thebriberyact.com and Compliance Practitioner

“If you only read one book on the US FCPA, read this one. [...] Mike Koehler’s new book is probably the best book we’ve read about the FCPA. [...] For those wanting a pair of ‘FCPA goggles’ no book is, in our opinion, better.”

To order a hard copy of the book, see here and here; to order an e-copy of the book, see here and here.

For media coverage of the book including Q&A’s, see here from Corporate Counsel, here from Global Investigations Review, and here from Corporate Counsel Weekly.

*****

Looking for even more information and analysis of the FCPA and FCPA enforcement?

I invite you to all also consider the following year in review articles.  Granted the below articles are not found between two covers, but you will find approximately 500 pages of FCPA statistics, trends and analysis over time.

For 2013, see here.

For 2012, see here.

For 2011, see here.

For 2010, see here.

For 2009, see here.

And The Apple Goes To …

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

applepicFitting of the season, the FCPA Professor apple award goes to Matthew Fishbein (Debevoise & Plimpton).

In this recent article titled “Why Aren’t Individuals Prosecuted for Conduct Companies Admit,” Fishbein (who previously served in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York as Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney and Chief of the Criminal Division, among other DOJ positions), picks an orchard. He writes:

“The public has every right to wonder how it can be that the government brings no charges against individuals in the wake of [corporate criminal settlements]. Companies act only through the conduct of individuals—if the conduct is as egregious as portrayed in these settlements, and if the massive penalties are appropriate, how is it that so often the government charges no individuals?

[...]

Prosecutors’ increasing appreciation of the leverage they enjoy over corporate entities, coupled with companies’ determinations that a “bad” settlement is likely better than a “good” litigation, has resulted in a greater number of corporate settlements in cases where the government would be unlikely to prevail if forced to prove its case in court. The result, increasingly common over the last 20 years, is that prosecutors can obtain what appears to be a monumental victory without needing to develop a theory, supported by evidence, that could survive a legal challenge or prevail before a jury.

Prosecutors have far less leverage over individuals. People, unlike corporations, often face the prospect of incarceration and financial ruin in the event of a criminal conviction. As a result, individuals are more likely to test the government’s legal theories and version of the facts. Of course, the government often does pursue complex cases against individuals where the legal theory is clear and the facts compelling (for example, the recent wave of insider trading cases). But in many of the recent settlements, prosecutors know from their interactions with lawyers for individuals that, unlike with the corporation, they are likely to have a fight on their hands if they bring charges. Prosecutors are under enormous pressure from Congress and the public to pursue cases against senior executives who are thought to have caused the financial crisis. If they thought they would prevail, is there any doubt that they would bring these cases?

[...]

As NPAs and DPAs have become increasingly common, the government’s leverage over corporations in negotiating these settlements has become more apparent. In addition to the tremendous risks associated with an indictment, prosecutors have several other powerful sources of negotiating leverage. These include: government suspension and debarment; the loss of key licenses, such as banking licenses; the drain on the time and energy of corporate executives and other witnesses; legal costs; and costs associated with the uncertainty of a criminal investigation and potential indictment.

Corporations are also reluctant to go to trial because they are risk averse. Regardless of the strength of the government’s case, the facts in corporate criminal cases are often complex or esoteric, and there is always a chance that a jury may not understand why a few problematic documents do not add up to criminal liability.

In light of these factors, companies often may view an admission of criminal conduct as preferable to a legal victory that clears the company’s name but requires years of uncertainty. By entering into a settlement, a company often confines its exposure to a press conference followed by writing a large check, after which the incident may be relegated to a paragraph in a 10-Q filing. By contrast, a company that goes to trial may receive negative—and unpredictable—news coverage for years.

From a business perspective, the preference to settle appears to be prudent: Even though DPAs often involve damaging admissions and massive fines, such negotiated resolutions tend to lead to an immediate increase in a company’s stock price. [...] The increase of a company’s stock price after it admits to often egregious criminal conduct and pays a multimillion dollar fine reflects the strong desire of shareholders and the market—and the consequent pressure on corporate executives—to resolve investigations by entering into settlements. The market appears to value the certainty of a resolution more than it is concerned by admissions of criminal conduct.

The above factors all contribute to an environment in which the government can test the limits of its leverage in negotiating corporate settlements. In recent years, prosecutors have pushed those limits further, knowing that they often need not develop a theory of criminal liability that would likely survive a court challenge. A December 2013 NPA that Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) entered into to settle FCPA charges provides a telling example. Under the NPA, ADM agreed to pay $54 million in penalties for bribing foreign government officials. Although it was undisputed that officials of ADM indirect subsidiary ACTI Ukraine paid off foreign officials, they did so in order to receive tax refunds owed by the Ukrainian government.

According to FCPA expert and Southern Illinois University School of Law Professor Michael Koehler, “it is difficult to square [the elements of the FCPA] with the facts alleged in the [ACTI] Ukraine information, and anyone who values the rule of law should be alarmed by it.” The FCPA was designed to prevent companies from “corruptly” acquiring “business”—not receiving owed tax refunds. Moreover, the statute specifically exempts from its anti-bribery provisions “payments to a foreign official…the purpose of which is to expedite or to secure the performance of a routine government action by a foreign official.”

The ADM NPA appears to reflect what Mark Mendelsohn, former head of the Justice Department’s FCPA Unit, has described as the “danger” of NPAs and DPAs: “it is tempting for the [Justice Department] or the SEC…to seek to resolve cases through DPAs or NPAs that don’t actually constitute violations of the law.” But if a case turns out to be marginal, why would a prosecutor pursue it? My experience as a former prosecutor and current defense lawyer suggests that there are at least three reasons for this phenomenon.

First, competition between prosecutors’ offices and public demands for immediate investigations in the wake of high-profile stories place substantial pressure on prosecutors to investigate companies quickly and to pursue cases without having necessarily vetted their appropriateness for criminal charges.

Second, many of the subjects of corporate investigations are complicated, esoteric, and place a substantial burden on the limited resources of prosecutors’ offices. After a lengthy investigation, a prosecutors’ office may not be inclined to simply close a case, especially if it can induce the company to enter into a settlement.

Third, as a result of the leverage discussed above, prosecutors can obtain settlements and massive payments in even marginal cases. Corporate prosecutions represent a low-risk, high-reward opportunity: The risk inherent in pursuing a marginal case is blunted by the high likelihood that a corporation will settle because of the prosecutor’s superior leverage and the corporate defendant’s rational risk aversion. And as settlements increase and monetary penalties skyrocket, the government accumulates and issues press releases reporting record amounts in fines and forfeitures.

[...]

[F]ew prosecutions of individuals actually occur. The reason is simple: Prosecutors do not possess the same kind of leverage over individuals that they do over companies. Because an admission of wrongdoing by an individual has far greater consequences, individuals are more likely to test the prosecution’s case. In cases where the evidence of criminal conduct is weak, prosecutors may well succeed in inducing the corporation to settle, but fail to convince individuals to do the same. Consequently, we see DPAs, often accompanied by inflammatory statements of fact (drafted by prosecutors) documenting outrageous criminal conduct by the company through its employees, without any follow-up prosecution of individuals.

Prosecutors have long been able to charge companies for the criminal conduct of their employees. And in the appropriate case, it makes sense that the corporation, which is created by the laws of the state, should be held accountable to ensure that its employees follow the law. But it follows that if criminal conduct has occurred, the individuals responsible should also be pursued.

The leverage the government can exercise over companies has tipped the scales to a troubling degree. By using their considerable leverage to induce companies to enter into settlements in increasingly marginal cases and forcing them to admit to egregious conduct to settle charges that likely would not survive a legal challenge or be proved to a jury, prosecutors have created a situation where the public is deceived into thinking that the individuals involved in corporate criminal conduct are receiving a free pass.

If these cases were exposed to the light of day by the adversarial system, the public would learn that they are often far murkier than they appear in the DPA’s statement of facts. Instead, however, the public sees a fundamental disconnect between the prosecution of corporations and the prosecution of individuals—and is justifiably left to wonder why prosecutors do not pursue the individuals through whom all corporations must act.”

For additional reading on the above topics see:

The Facade of FCPA Enforcement“ (2010)

My 2010 Senate FCPA testimony (“The lack of individual prosecutions in the most high-profile egregious instances of corporate bribery causes one to legitimately wonder whether the conduct was engaged in by ghosts. [...]  However, a reason no individuals have been charged in [most FCPA] enforcement actions may have more to do with the quality of the corporate enforcement action than any other factor. As previously described, given the prevalence of NPAs and DPAs in the FCPA context and the ease in which DOJ offers these alternative resolution vehicles to companies subject to an FCPA inquiry, companies agree to enter into such resolution vehicles regardless of the DOJ’s legal theories or the existence of valid and legitimate defenses. It is simply easier, more cost efficient, and more certain for a company … to agree to a NPA or DPA than it is to be criminally indicted and mount a valid legal defense – even if the DOJ’s theory of prosecution is questionable …”.

But Nobody Was Charged” (2011)

“DOJ Prosecution of Individuals – Are Other Factors At Play?” (2011) (2013) (2014)

Why You Should Be Alarmed by the ADM Enforcement Action” (2014).

*****

[The FCPA Apple Award recognizes informed, candid, and fresh thought-leadership on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act or related topics. There is no prize, medal or plaque awarded to the FCPA Professor Apple Award recipient. Just recognition by a leading FCPA website visited by a diverse group of readers around the world. There is no nomination procedure for the Apple Award. If you are writing something informed, candid and fresh about the FCPA or related topics, chances are high that I will find your work during my daily searches for FCPA content.]