The FCPA Under Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Attorney General Jeff Sessions reaffirmed the Justice Department’s commitment to enforce the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act spoke last Monday in a speech at the Ethics and Compliance Initiative Annual Conference. Statements by President Trump before running for office ridiculing the anti-bribery law had put the administration’s enthusiasm for enforcing the law into doubt.

According to Sessions, “We will continue to strongly enforce the FCPA and other anti-corruption laws.” Sessions indicated both that the DOJ has a duty to uphold the rule of law as well as that enforcing the law protects honest businesses being put at a disadvantage because they do the right thing while their competitors break the rules. Sessions said, “This type of corruption harms free competition, distorts prices, and often leads to substandard products and services coming into this country.”

It also appears that the DOJ under Sessions will continue to (1) attempt to hold individuals accountable for corporate misconduct; and (2) reward companies with good compliance programs that self-disclose wrongdoing, cooperate with government investigations, and take steps to remediate problems.

Trevor McFadden, acting principal deputy assistant attorney general of the criminal division of the Justice Department, also rejected the notion that FCPA enforcement was dead under President Trump in a recent speech. McFadden said that he hoped to speed up FCPA investigations so that they could be completed in months, not years, but that the FCPA is “as alive as ever.” The average FCPA case now takes four years to reach a resolution.

These comments are only one piece of the equation as the DOJ handles criminal enforcement under the FCPA while the SEC hires civil enforcement against publicly-traded companies. ┬áNevertheless, it seems likely that the government will continue to enforce the law despite President Trump’s previous comments.