After years of successful Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), signals are strongly pointing to new levels of cooperation by foreign regulators with U.S. authorities and an increase in parallel enforcement actions abroad. The broad implementation of anti-corruption laws worldwide led to several significant developments during 2013 in Europe, Latin America, and Asia. This included the United Kingdom’s first-ever charges under the U.K. Bribery Act since its 2011 enactment, Brazil’s passage of the sweeping Clean Companies Act, and large anti-corruption investigations by Chinese authorities. In a keynote address in November 2013, the SEC’s then-Co-Director of the Division of Enforcement, Andrew Ceresney, lauded “the tremendous increase in cooperation that we have received from other governments” and the “transformation in our ability to get meaningful and timely assistance from our international partners.”
The increased involvement by foreign regulators in U.S.-led investigations, in addition to the inherent risk of parallel actions, not only raises the stakes for corporations undergoing FCPA investigations but also creates several pitfalls related to the conduct of an investigation and the handling of information that corporate counsel should recognize.