by The Compliance Exchange on January 7, 2013
If you are a technology executive exploring the world’s frontiers, now is not the time to bribe your way into a deal. The same goes for health-care and energy companies. These three industries are currently the prime targets of US foreign bribery investigators, who ensnare one company and then persuade it to inform on rivals or partners.
More than half of the 90 currently known investigations under the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) are in the technology, health, energy and metals industries, according to a list compiled by the FCPA Blog. The largest group is basic industries—oil, metals and chemicals—in which there are open investigations of 21 companies, including Italy’s Eni, France’s Total, and US-based Marathon Oil. Probes are open against 16 technology companies, including Hewlett-Packard, Oracle, Qualcomm and Sony; and 15 health-care companies, including pharmaceutical giants Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline and Merck.
Companies typically will face joint US bribery investigations by both the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), since usually they are publicly listed. Richard Cassin, a Singapore-based expert on US foreign bribery law who founded the FCPA Blog, told me that the tendency of the investigation of one company to spread through an industry is a new “contagion effect.”
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