Third of General Counsel Feeling Regulator Heat: Survey

By Che Odom

Jan. 28 — Nearly a third of general counsel worldwide said in a new survey that their companies were targeted by regulators in the past two years.

This shows that companies are facing additional risks and wider government scrutiny as they conduct cross-border work, said the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), which released the results of its survey Jan. 27.

The ACC, a legal association of 40,000 in-house lawyers, questioned 1,302 chief legal officers in 41 countries and found that ethics and compliance remain the top concerns of corporate law department leaders, with regulatory issues one percentage point behind.

Busy FCPA Year

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act is one area that has seen robust enforcement. In 2015, regulators leveled millions of dollars in penalties and fines against companies in FCPA cases.

In one notable example, Alstom SA was sentenced Nov. 13 to pay a $772 million fine for a worldwide bribery scheme.

Companies also face regulatory risks under domestic and foreign anticorruption laws, such as the U.S. Travel Act, the U.K. Bribery Act, and increased scrutiny from regulators in China, Russia, Brazil, Australia and other countries, Danish Hamid, a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Cooley LLP, said Jan. 28 during a webinar hosted by Bloomberg BNA.

In other highlights, the ACC survey found that corporate law departments are spending more on internal budgets than on law firms or other external legal service providers.

The respondents said that their companies doubled the number of legal professionals on their staffs between 2014 and 2015. 

To contact the reporter on this story: Che Odom in Washington at codom@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Yin Wilczek at ywilczek@bna.com

For More Information

The ACC survey may be downloaded at http://src.bna.com/cnz.