Speaking at a November 2010 conference, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer of the DOJ emphasized that the DOJ’s aggressive enforcement of the FCPA is “here to stay.” He also described “historic” growth in FCPA actions during 2010.
In particular, Breuer noted that in the past year, the DOJ has imposed well over $1 billion in criminal penalties—more than in any prior 12-month period. Also in 2009 and 2010 combined, the government has charged over 50 individuals and collected nearly $2 billion in FCPA-related cases. In comparison, in 2004 it charged just 2 individuals and collected only $11 million.
Breuer also noted that the DOJ’s Fraud Section grew significantly this year and that its new FCPA Unit alone consists of over a dozen prosecutors dedicated solely to FCPA cases. The FCPA Unit is also working with the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section, which targets, in part, proceeds of foreign official corruption being laundered through the United States.
Breuer further discussed what he described as DOJ’s increasing international cooperation. More specifically, he said that the DOJ is expanding its reach by forming partnerships with foreign agencies. For example, cooperation with the U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office led to guilty pleas and a $400 million-plus criminal fine against a U.K. company.
Breuer acknowledged that the government’s increasingly aggressive FCPA enforcement activity has drawn criticism, but forcefully rejected the argument that FCPA enforcement is “bad for business.” To the contrary, he said, the FCPA is vital to ensuring market integrity and an even playing field.
He also rebutted arguments that FCPA enforcement activity creates a disadvantage for American businesses, noting that over half of the DOJ’s FCPA resolutions in the last five years have involved foreign companies.