Big Sting: January Sting Sets FCPA Precedent

Online Exclusive: White-collar defense lawyers left with fewer options in new era of FCPA enforcement.

A stunning January sting operation has set an entirely new precedent for Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) enforcement. Using tactics reminiscent of drug busts and mob crackdowns, FBI agents arrested 21 executives at the opening of a gun-industry trade show in Las Vegas. One more was simultaneously arrested in Miami.

Undercover operations are enormously expensive, both in terms of money and personnel. The massive outlay required for such a large sting, experts say, shows just how serious the feds are about cracking down on FCPA crimes.

"[Breuer] has intimated that they're going to be more aggressive and use more sophisticated means," says Pat Brady, a partner at Barnes & Thornburg. "He said they're going to focus on individuals. True to his word, they did. There are supposedly 140 open FCPA investigations, so there's a whole new universe of leaders of corporate entities that might be in the crosshairs."

"As is true in a lot of these cases, they're looking at an industry," Davis says. "This has been one of the trends the last couple of years. They've looked at the oil field industry, they've done blanket-type investigations in the pharmaceutical industry. Now they're looking at the [small arms] industry."

The investigation required active cooperation of many domestic and foreign agencies. In addition to the sting in Vegas, they executed search warrants in Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Virginia, as well as in London.

Contributing Author

Steven Andersen

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