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A Justice Department pilot program offering leniency to companies that self-report violations of a federal foreign bribery law has led to more of them coming forward, a top DOJ official said May 12.
In the program’s first year, 22 companies voluntarily disclosed violations, up from 13 the year before, Andrew Weissmann, chief of DOJ’s Fraud Division, said during a Practising Law Institute panel in New York that was also webcast. “It’s not a huge universe,” he said.
The program kicked off in April 2016 and was originally scheduled for a year, but the Justice Department announced in March that it will continue indefinitely.
Companies that self-disclosed violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act either weren’t prosecuted or entered into nonprosecution agreements, Weissmann said. They didn’t face deferred prosecution agreements, guilty pleas or monitors, unlike the large majority of companies that didn’t proactively disclose violations.
President Donald Trump has called the FCPA a “horrible law,” which has led some attorneys to speculate that his administration’s crime-fighting officials would dial back Obama administration efforts to build cases around indirect hiring and other practices that aren’t fully in line with the law’s core prohibitions.
In the meantime, however, FCPA investigations are continuing. Jay Clayton, the new chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, has indicated support for the law during his confirmation process, calling it a “powerful and effective tool.” Similarly, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a speech April 24 the Justice Department will “strongly enforce the FCPA and other anti-corruption laws.”
“Obviously it’s too early for us to tell what changes are going to happen,” Andrew Calamari, director of the SEC’s New York Regional Office, said during the May 12 panel. “My general experience over the years is that the core tends to stay the same and there are, maybe, some changes around the edges.”
“I don’t know what to anticipate, but I don’t know that we should anticipate major change,” he added. “But we’ll have to see.”
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