Financial firms face FCPA fines for foreign fraternization

Hiring family members of well-connected government officials could be seen as a business strategy

They say that landing a job is “all about who you know.” Unfortunately for some financial institutions, hires “who know” foreign officials could be a violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA.) In response to this possibility the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is aggressively investigating hires that may have been made to curry favor with international entities.

J.P. Morgan Chase disclosed that it was the subject of one such investigation earlier this year, but now additional financial firms, including Morgan Stanley and Citigroup, are facing similar action. U.S authorities have sent letters to both firms, seeking information the people they’ve recently hired.

The FCPA was set up to ensure that no company could solicit business in another nation by offering that nation’s leaders money and kickbacks. If these financials firms have hired friends or family members of government officials for to earn their business they could be fined under the same provision.

While the letters are seeking information, it’s often very difficult to prove any wrong-doing in these cases. The SEC would be required to show “corrupt intent,” proving that these banks requested something outside of their normal behavior in relation to a hire.

There has been no word yet on whether or not these investigations have yielded and tangible misgivings for the financial firms. But the move to investigate coincides with increased enforcement of deals made with nations experiencing of economic growth.

In a recent interview with InsideCounsel Jeremy Perisho, partner at Deloitte Financial Advisory said, “U.S. enforcement has increased, the U.K. and China and Brazil are picking up on the trends,” she explains. “In order to do business in a world where enforcement is fashionable, you must take compliance seriously.”

Obviously the need to remain compliant when deals done overseas are increasingly scrutinized is essential for not only banks, but for all companies.

 

Check out these other stories following corruption and bribery around the world:

 

Solving the puzzle of the FCPA in China

Demystifying the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (Part I)

Recent DOJ and FTC activity focuses on corporate antitrust and trade regulation compliance programs

 

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