Top FCPA cases 2021 — lowest charges ever?

Another year, another FCPA analytics by Ethicontrol — view our previous works under the FCPA tag.

"Relatively quiet" and "significantly declining" - two major characteristics of FCPA enforcement cases in 2021. Companies publicly disclose fewer and fewer cases of ongoing investigations by the US authorities, and DOJ is trying to tackle this worrying perspective. Not only foreign bribery remains the main focus for DOJ, but the sources of information for investigations expanded (now DOJ is using innovative data mining, for example). 

Only four companies were charged by SEC and three by DOJ for violating FCPA in 2021. The biggest fine was paid by Credit Suisse, who are currently under DPA (as well as Amec Foster Wheeler Ltd) - $275 million. Total fines by DOJ and SEC in 2021 constituted around $500 million when in 2020 it was $9.88 billion.

2021 hit the lowest in terms of investigations conducted and fines imposed in 6 years. 

Credit Suisse - $275m. Credit Suisse Group AG, a financial institution was charged both by DOJ and SEC for $175 million and $100 million accordingly. Credit Suisse committed a wire fraud  to get the loan for investing its tuna fishing project in Mozambique - the loan concerned both the US and international investors ($850 million). Credit Suisse did not fully disclose the information about the dangers of the project which harmed financial interests of the investors and constituted a violation of compliance practice.

Deutsche Bank - $173m. A financial services company was accused of corrupt payments and bribes, internal control violations and fraudulent commodities trading practices. $130 million and $43 million were charged by DOJ and SEC accordingly. Specifically, Deutsche Bank concealed corrupt payments to third-party intermediaries by falsifying the books of records. Currently, Deutsche Bank is under DPA.

Amec Foster Wheeler Ltd - $40.7m. Amec Foster Wheeler Energy Limited was charged by both DOJ and SEC for paying bribes to officials in Brazil in order to secure a governmental contract. Amec Foster Wheeler is currently under DPA.

WPP plc - $19m. WPP plc was charged by SEC for record-keeping and anti-bribery violations in relation to its subsidiaries in multiple countries. WPP prioritised profitability instead of growing consistently with keeping its robust internal controls.

Even though 2021 hit the lowest in terms of FCPA charges and companies which publicly announced the investigations, moves by DOJ and SEC seem to be promising - another year of fruitful work and enhanced compliance is coming. 

Sources:
https://www.sec.gov/news/press-release/2021-213
https://www.sec.gov/news/press-release/2021-3
https://www.sec.gov/news/press-release/2021-112
https://www.sec.gov/news/press-release/2021-191
https://www.sec.gov/enforce/sec-enforcement-actions-fcpa-cases
https://www.justice.gov/usao-edny/pr/credit-suisse-resolves-fraudulent-mozambique-loan-case-547-million-coordinated-global
https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/deutsche-bank-agrees-pay-over-130-million-resolve-foreign-corrupt-practices-act-and-fraud
https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/amec-foster-wheeler-energy-limited-agrees-pay-over-18-million-resolve-charges-related-bribery
https://www.justice.gov/criminal-fraud/case/related-enforcement-actions/2021

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