March 07, 2018 Articles

Key Lessons from the 2017 FCPA Plea Agreements and Indictments

The DOJ will continue to prioritize individual prosecutions in FCPA cases and use the accountability as a benchmark for the successful resolution of corporate investigations.

By Nicholas R. Barnaby, David Bitkower, Kelly Hagedorn, and Veronica Lopez – March 7, 2018

In late 2017, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a combination of charges and guilty pleas involving seven individuals relating to violations of the antibribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). On November 9, 2017, two former oil services executives pleaded guilty to criminal informations in connection with bribery schemes involving officials of the Brazilian state-owned oil company Petrobras as well as other state-owned oil companies in Angola and Equatorial Guinea. Earlier the same week, on November 7, 2017, court documents were unsealed in Ohio federal court revealing charges against five individuals—four of whom had already pleaded guilty—for allegedly violating the FCPA by paying bribes to foreign officials on behalf of Rolls-Royce. The four individuals associated with Rolls-Royce had actually pleaded guilty on December 20, 2016; June 6, 2017; June 13, 2017; and July 28, 2017, and the indictment against the fifth individual had been filed on October 12, 2017. However, the plea agreements and the indictment had been kept under seal until last week.

This flurry of activity highlights four key lessons.

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