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DOJ's Rabbitt Points to Banner Year at Anti-Corruption Conference

During his keynote address at the American Conference Institute’s 37th annual FCPA meeting, Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt touted the Department of Justice’s “historic” efforts during 2020.

DOJ department 40657 640 smallEach year, the anti-corruption community comes together to discuss the legal landscape regarding compliance and criminal activities through the lens of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). This year, Rabbitt said despite many obstacles, he was proud of what the department was able to accomplish with respect to its enforcement initiatives.

“It is no exaggeration to say that the Criminal Division’s work in 2020 has been historic—both in terms of the results we have achieved and the circumstances under which we have achieved them. Despite the significant obstacles presented by the pandemic, the Division has remained open for business,” said Rabbitt in his remarks.

Rabbitt touted “all-time high” enforcement numbers but reminded the conference’s virtual attendees that statistics do not tell the whole story, especially when it comes to white-collar enforcement. He said cold, hard facts and figures do not always accurately reflect the “nature and quality” of the department’s cases. “But even with those caveats, the Criminal Division’s statistics over the past year demonstrate that our white-collar enforcement work—and our enforcement of the FCPA in particular—has been active and successful in 2020, even in the face of significant headwinds,” he said during the address.

According to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act was enacted in 1977 and, among other things, “generally prohibits the payment of bribes to foreign officials to assist in obtaining or retaining business.” The law can be applied to conduct anywhere in the world and applies to publicly traded companies, their officers, directors, agents, employees and stockholders.

The FCPA also demands issuers keep accurate books and have adequate internal controls capable of providing that reasonable assurance transactions are properly executed and assets are properly accounted for.

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Rabbitt said the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section has already reached resolutions with dozens of corporations this year and is expecting several more significant resolutions before 2020 wraps up. He noted Fraud Section resolutions have totaled $8.75 billion in funds paid by companies, which is up from 2019’s $3.21 billion.

“Notably, many of our corporate resolutions in 2020 included coordination with one or more foreign enforcement authorities—an increasingly important aspect of our work,” he added. “Nevertheless, of the nearly $9 billion companies paid to resolve matters involving the Fraud Section in 2020, almost half—$4.28 billion—was paid directly in penalties and restitution in the United States, which demonstrates our leading role in global white-collar enforcement.”

Further, Rabbitt pointed out the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section has helped secure nine corporate guilty pleas, 16 deferred prosecution agreements and eight non-prosecution agreements. These cases led to the collection of more than $14 billion in charged losses and close to $12 billion in “global payment and amounts.”

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