On December 6, 2021, the White House released the first-ever US Strategy on Countering Corruption (the "Strategy") and an accompanying Fact Sheet summary. The Strategy's release follows President Biden's earlier announcement in June 2021 that elevated the fight against corruption to a core US national security interest and that directed multiple agencies to design a comprehensive and whole-of-government approach. The Strategy's release also coincides with a number of other recent US and global developments that companies must navigate going forward. In particular, the Strategy's release follows recent updates to US Department of Justice enforcement policy announced by Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco in late October 2021 (which US enforcement agencies and the legal and corporate communities discussed further at the recent ACI International Conference of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act),1 as well as the OECD's newly revised Recommendation for Further Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions, released on November 26, 2021.

This Mayer Brown Legal Update provides a Quick Blue Box Update on the Strategy's Five Pillars. As practical impacts can be easily lost in lists of objectives and policy language, this Update also provides Key Takeaways for companies to consider as they look to match enforcement's increasingly global, integrated and holistic approach to corruption via anti-corruption enforcement, the public/private partnership, follow-the-money strategies, cross-border cooperation, and government spending and defense programs controls.

US Strategy on Countering Corruption: Five Pillars of Implementation. As summarized in the accompanying Fact Sheet, the new US Strategy on Countering Corruption organizes implementation efforts into five mutually reinforcing pillars, feach with a number of related strategic objectives. Metrics will be developed to measure progress against each strategic objective, which will inform annual status reporting to the president.

1. Modernizing, Coordinating and Resourcing US Government Efforts to Fight Corruption. In recognition of the need for an updated whole-of-government approach to organizing and resourcing the fight against corruption, both within the United States and abroad, committing to:

  • Improving information sharing within the US government, with non-US-governmental entities and internationally;
  • Increasing focus on the transnational dimensions of corruption, including by prioritizing intelligence and analysis on corrupt actors and their networks;
  • Enhancing corruption-related research, data collection and analysis; and
  • Integrating an anti-corruption focus into regional, thematic and sectoral priorities.

2. Curbing Illicit Finance. Working with partners and allies to address deficiencies that may allow corrupt actors and their facilitators to rely on vulnerabilities in the US and international financial systems, including via:

  • Issuing beneficial ownership transparency regulations to counteract opaque corporate structures;
  • Targeting gatekeepers to the financial system—including lawyers, accountants, and trust and company service providers; and
  • Working with partner countries to strengthen their anti-money laundering regimes to bring greater transparency to the international financial system.

3. Holding Corrupt Actors Accountable. Enhancing and updating enforcement efforts and available tools, including by:

  • Working with the private sector to encourage the adoption and enforcement of anti-corruption compliance programs by US and international companies;
  • Elevating diplomatic and development efforts to support, defend and protect civil society and media actors who expose corruption; and
  • Establishing a kleptocracy asset recovery rewards program targeting stolen assets linked to foreign government corruption that are held at US financial institutions.

4. Preserving and Strengthening the Multilateral Anti-Corruption Architecture. Prioritizing ongoing US support for multilateral initiatives, commitments and standards that move countries to make real improvements in countering corruption, including via:

  • Strengthening support for organizations such as the OECD, OAS and UN;
  • Reinvigorating US participation in the G7 and G20 and across a broader range of related international transparency and anti-corruption initiatives; and
  • Building and expanding accountable, effective and resilient security institutions.

5. Improving Diplomatic Engagement and Leveraging Foreign Assistance Resources to Achieve AntiCorruption Policy Goals. Elevating anti-corruption work as a priority within US diplomatic engagement and foreign assistance efforts, including by:

  • Expanding anti-corruption-focused US foreign assistance and monitoring its efficacy;
  • Improving security assistance and integrating corruption considerations into military planning, analysis and operations; and
  • Bolstering public sector anti-corruption capacity and support via protection of anti-corruption actors such as independent audit and oversight institutions.

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This Mayer Brown article provides information and comments on legal issues and developments of interest. The foregoing is not a comprehensive treatment of the subject matter covered and is not intended to provide legal advice. Readers should seek specific legal advice before taking any action with respect to the matters discussed herein.