In a December 15, 2008, press conference announcing the recent billon-dollar resolution by Siemens AG of U.S. and German charges related to foreign bribery,20 Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division, Matthew Friedrich, cited a trend of a significant “step-up” of anti-corruption efforts by foreign law enforcement as “potentially even more significant” than the increase in FCPA prosecutions here in the United States.21 As discussed in the November 2008 issue of the FCPA Advisor, the United Kingdom achieved its first convictions for transnational bribery in the fall of 2008. Now, Japan, which has previously been cited by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (“OECD”) Working Group on Bribery for being too passive in investigating and prosecuting foreign bribery cases, achieved its first significant victory over corruption of foreign officials.

On November 12, 2008, the Japanese entity, Pacific Consultants International (“PCI”), and four of its former senior executives, pleaded guilty to paying bribes to a Vietnamese government official in violation of Japan’s Unfair Competition Prevention Law (“UCPL”), which prohibits such payments.22 The UCPL was enacted by Japan following that nation’s ratification of the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. The four individuals, along with PCI, had all been charged by Japanese prosecutors in connection with the alleged payment of over $2.43 million in bribes to an official of Ho Chi Minh City to secure lucrative road construction projects in Vietnam. The guilty pleas were entered during the first hearing in the case, after opening statements, and involved the admission by the individual defendants to the payment of $820,000 in bribes. The President of PCI, Kimio Takeya, also gave a statement had to prosecutors in which he admitted that PCI bribed foreign government officials in other instances.

The PCI case was cited by the Department as evidence of the global fight against corruption, and a signal of what is to come in the future.