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2008: Another Banner Year for FCPA Enforcement

January 21, 2009

By William F. Pendergast and Paula R. Katz

As this article goes to press, the curtains are closing on another banner year in enforcement actions under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)with quite a grand finale, as Siemens AG settles with the DOJ, SEC, and German prosecutors and agrees to pay the largest FCPA fines in history, and Fiat offers up an encore performance in yet another UN Oil for Food investigation. In 2007, corporate enforcement actions under the FCPA netted fines and penalties totaling more than $130 million. Along with heavy jail sentences and individual fines, the record level of corporate enforcement activities in 2007 led to widespread predictions that the trend would continue, with enforcement actions continuing to soar in 2008. Would 2008 be another banner year, meeting or exceeding last years unprecedented level of enforcement? The Siemens settlement seals 2008 as another record year in FCPA enforcement actions, with fines for the Siemens case alone totaling nearly $1.6 billionyes, billion. And, as we discuss below, all of this years enforcement actions confirm the FCPAs increasing prominence in compliance programs for companies doing business around the world in a variety of industries. This article reviews FCPA enforcement activities as of December 31, 2008 and discusses notable developments that may impact FCPA enforcement in the years to come.