It Ain’t Easy Being Clean: The Compliance Challenges of FCPA and Dodd-Frank

It Ain’t Easy Being Clean: The Compliance Challenges of FCPA and Dodd-Frank

Misery loves companies. U.S. federal enforcement officials have declared this to be the "new era" of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), and most executives are worried about their risk exposure, i.e, their chances of being miserable. Those who aren't concerned should be. To keep their spirits up, corporations and their boards and executive teams will have to pay close attention to how FCPA enforcement is playing out, especially in relation to the relatively new Dodd-Frank provisions.

There Goes the Neighborhood

Suits and settlements have become more and more common over the last handful of years. The enforcement of anti-bribery and corruption regulations has greatly increased, particularly in the U.S., led by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC).

Both agencies have had successes enforcing the FCPA. In 2010, the SEC even set up a special unit to pursue FCPA prosecutions. Since then, the agencies' success can be measured in the size of the settlements they have won, with the top 10 corporate FCPA settlements adding up to more than $3 billion.

The FCPA Blows Up: Dodd-Frank and the Whistleblowers

In the years ahead, that number will keep going up. In 2010, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank) turned up the heat on the almost 80-year-old FCPA. Section 922 in particular is hot, providing a rewards program for whistleblowers who help the SEC uncover securities violations, including FCPA infringements.

Whistleblowers can now receive up to 30 percent of the monetary sanctions or recovery obtained by the SEC. That could mean millions, and that creates quite a motive. Additionally, whistleblowers are granted extra protections, such as being able to remain anonymous up until the point of receiving their award. Expect more people to blow the whistle.

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