International anti-corruption efforts have helped build an environment where “corruption is no longer widely seen as an accepted cost of doing business,” Attorney General Eric Holder said yesterday. For companies that come under investigation for bribery, this global anti-bribery push means a broader set of possible penalties.
The U.S. remains the world’s bribery policeman, but other countries are joining in the patrol. For instance, France-based Total SA agreed earlier this year to a $398 million settlement with U.S. regulators, but the company and its chief executive still faced prosecution in France. A French court later acquitted the defendants. “The enforcement that’s out there, including the arrest of executives, is certainly catching the eye of multinational companies,” said Paul E. Pelletier, member at Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo P.C. and former principal deputy chief of the Justice Department’s criminal division’s fraud section.
This means global companies face anti-bribery sanctions, like criminal prosecutions, fines and debarment, some of which U.S. regulators rarely use. “Many U.S. and foreign companies and their subsidiaries already face considerable FCPA exposure. Now they face an additional increase in international exposure,” said Adam Lurie, partner at Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft LLP and former Justice Department senior counsel.