2016 proved to be a record-setting year for US anti-corruption enforcement with the Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission collecting a total of approximately US$2.5 billion in fines, disgorgement, and interest from 27 companies in connection with charges under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Ten individuals pleaded guilty to criminal FCPA charges, while a number of others resolved civil FCPA charges with the SEC. The DOJ also issued five "declinations" under its new FCPA Pilot Program, which seeks to reward companies for their voluntary self-disclosure of potential violations, cooperation with authorities, and remediation of compliance program deficiencies.
2016 also was notable for the level of international cooperation on anti-corruption matters. In December, for example, US, Brazilian, and Swiss authorities announced a global settlement valued at US$3.5 billion with Brazil-based construction company Odebrecht S.A. and its petrochemical unit, Braskem S.A., to resolve charges related to the bribery of government officials in a variety of jurisdictions.
The announcement of large FCPA settlements continued through the final days of the Obama Administration in January 2017, with UK-based engineering company Rolls Royce plc agreeing to pay the US nearly US$170 million in criminal penalties as part of the company's US$800 million global settlement with US, UK, and Brazilian authorities.
Las Vegas Sands Corp., Orthofix International, Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile SA, Zimmer Biomet Holdings,and Mondelez International, Inc. also resolved FCPA charges this past month, as did two former executives from Och-Ziff Capital Management Group and two former energy company executives. And in FCPA-related private litigation, the former general counsel of Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc., who alleges that he was fired for blowing the whistle on corruption in China, went to trial against his former employer in federal court in the Northern District of California.
In other anti-corruption news from around the world, South Korea, France, and Mexico recently took major steps to strengthen their own anti-corruption laws.
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