The Importance of HR in FCPA Compliance
February 17, 2017
In April 2016, the DOJ announced it had increased the size of its FCPA unit by more than 50 percent and the FBI established three new squads of special agents devoted to FCPA investigations. Companies with operations abroad should take a close look at their approach to FCPA compliance.
Practitioners are advised to keep an eye on who is hired for international operations, and for what reasons. Recent activity indicates that the government considers employment opportunities (including unpaid internships) a “thing of value” that can trigger FCPA liability. Efforts to push applicants through in ways that circumvent normal procedures should be questioned and reported to management/compliance.
In 2016, the DOJ instituted its one-year “Pilot Program” to encourage self-reporting of potential FCPA offenses. Penalties for companies that self-report ahead of a DOJ investigation could be significantly reduced. The DOJ has publicly declined FCPA prosecution in five cases, and in all five the DOJ pointed to proactive company measures, in part, as the reason.
There are many views on what pending changes in DOJ leadership could mean for FCPA prosecution. Some think the Administration could let the Pilot Program expire this year, while others believe it could be extended and applied to non-FCPA enforcement. Either way a strong FCPA compliance program, along with consistency in hiring, investigations and disciplinary actions, can minimize the risk of violation and potential prosecution for employers.
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