Over the past few years, U.S. government enforcement agencies have substantially increased the number of investigations—and resulting enforcement actions—of companies and individuals in Latin America over alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). Of particular importance—the number of FCPA prosecutions with a Latin American component is also increasing, indicating that government regulators are taking a hard look at alleged violations of the FCPA in Latin America. Specifically, in 2010 and 2011, the Department of Justice (DOJ) disclosed approximately 44 FCPA and related enforcement actions, with 14 of them, or 32 percent, having a Latin American component.
For a multi-national company operating in Latin America, the challenges inherent in conducting operations in multiple countries, with multiple cultures and languages, are compounded if the company does not have an FCPA and anti-corruption compliance program that is tailored to respond to risks associated with each country within which the company operates. The need for a robust and effective compliance program is paramount in Latin America, where many of the countries have poor perception of corruption rankings within Transparency International’s annual Corruption Perception Index. In fact, should FCPA non-compliance occur, enforcement authorities will factor the absence of FCPA policies and procedures into their view of the matter and their assessment of appropriate fines and penalties.