Investigations Under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act: How Global Energy Companies Can Protect Themselves

Investigations Under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act: How Global Energy Companies Can Protect Themselves

By Jennifer Morrissey Esq. and Orlando Vidal Esq.

It is no secret that energy companies frequently find themselves in the crosshairs of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) investigations. Energy companies' activities abroad often take place in countries considered to be high corruption risks. Energy companies operating abroad typically are dependent on government agencies for myriad aspects of their business operations, such as financing, siting, permitting, tax subsidies, employment and safety requirements, project construction, and contracts. Foreign agents and consultants are often hired to assist with local transactions. And although many companies do have compliance policies on the books, these are not always enforced, or even known, among employees in all foreign subsidiaries, not to mention among all agents, joint-venture partners, or other figures who may be considered or whose conduct may be imputed to a U.S. "domestic concern."

Under the Obama administration, federal investigators have pledged increased vigor in FCPA enforcement efforts.  The Department of Justice (DOJ) has added FCPA staff and has the assistance of a dedicated FBI division. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) last year formed a special FCPA investigative unit comprised of a large team of attorneys with extensive experience in the anti-bribery law and promised to focus on high-risk industries, including the energy sector.

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Jennifer Morrissey is a Senior Managing Associate with SNR Denton US LLP and a member of the firm's Energy, Transport and Infrastructure group. Ms. Morrissey's practice focuses on regulation, litigation and compliance primarily in the energy and infrastructure sectors, both in the U.S. and abroad.

Orlando Vidal, a Partner at SNR Denton, is an international litigator and a former federal prosecutor who has spoken frequently to audiences around the world about global anti-corruption efforts led by the U.S. and the U.K.

SNR Denton is one of the 25 largest legal services providers in the world. SNR Denton serves business, government and institutional clients in eight key sectors: Energy, Transport and Infrastructure; Financial Institutions and Funds; Government; Health and Life Sciences; Insurance; Manufacturing; Real Estate, Retail and Hotels; and Technology, Media and Telecommunications.York, before the United States District Courts for the Middle and Northern Districts of Georgia, and before the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York.