John Davis Discusses FCPA Enforcement Actions in Compliance Week

"Don't Be Fooled by the Lull in FCPA Enforcement Actions"
Compliance Week
05.14.13

In this article, John Davis comments on the drop in FCPA enforcement actions in 2013 to date, with neither the Department of Justice (DOJ) nor the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) bringing a single FCPA-related action in the first quarter of this year.

This dip in enforcement actions does not signal a shift in the DOJ's or SEC's commitment to FCPA enforcement. "All signs indicate that those numbers will shoot back up," Davis said. According to Davis, federal agencies are currently conducting several FCPA investigations that will eventually lead to enforcement actions. As noted in Miller & Chevalier's FCPA Spring Review 2013, the government initiated at least 39 corporate FCPA investigations in 2012 -- more than in any prior year.

In addition to the decline in FCPA enforcement actions, federal agencies are also closing many investigations without any settlement or finding of wrongdoing, known as declinations. During the first quarter of this year, the Justice Department and the SEC closed nine cases without pursuing any enforcement action at all, according to Miller & Chevalier. Furthermore, the agencies are currently on track to double the number of record declinations reached last year, the firm stated.

These numbers do not necessarily mean that regulators are declining more cases than in past years. According to Davis, they are making a greater effort to publicly disclose cases where they have closed an investigation with no action and are doing so with more consistency than they have in the past. "It's indicative that transparency levels are going up," he said.

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