In 1977, the United States adopted the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) to combat bribery of foreign public officials. As with many U.S.-led initiatives, it was seen at the time as naïve, quixotic, myopic, and doomed to failure. A little more than 20-years later, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (“OECD”) adopted its Convention on Combatting Bribery of Foreign Public Officials, and as required by the Convention, the countries of Western Europe promptly adopted organic statutes modeled, in large measure, on the FCPA.
In the ensuing decade and a half, prosecutions of corporations for foreign bribery have become perhaps the most important prosecutorial priority for the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and Securities & Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and certainly the most financially lucrative U.S. prosecution initiative. Transnational investigations have become a staple of these prosecutions. All 10 of the largest FCPA prosecutions have occurred since 2008; of these, eight have involved foreign corporations.
This course will cover the development of U.S., international, and foreign initiatives against public-official bribery. Because (at least in the US) most of these cases have been resolved without litigation, we will focus on critical, unresolved issues, such as the FCPA’s definition of a foreign “instrumentality” and a “foreign official,” as well as the scope of U.S. extra-territorial jurisdiction. In addition to addressing the substance of foreign and international laws and conventions, we will explore the critical issues that arise from the growing trend in trans-national investigations and prosecutions, including double jeopardy, res judicata, and international data collection.
We will explore these issues through fact-based, real-world scenarios drawn, in large part, from the “Bonny Island” case, which involved a scheme by four international corporations to bribe three successive Nigerian presidents (as well as a constellation of lower-ranking officials) to secure multi-billion dollar contracts for the construction of an LNG facility in Nigeria. We will use this factual setting to frame class participation and in-class exercises and projects, with the goal of sharpening critical thinking, tackling complex legal questions in concrete factual settings, and honing advocacy skills.