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.
We have the following expectations of learning outcomes:
- We expect each student to achieve mastery of the basic concepts underlying the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, including the basic statutory terms, the elements of the various offenses, and the scope of U.S. jurisdiction. In our experience, it is impossible to fully understand and discuss more challenging questions about the scope or application of the statute without mastery of the fundamentals.
- We expect each student to gain an understanding of the roles and policies of the U.S. enforcement authorities, the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the manner in which FCPA cases are investigated, prosecuted, and defended, as well as how the U.S. enforcement agencies would approach a problem and what outcomes are likely to result.
- We expect each student to gain an understanding of the global enforcement landscape for anti-corruption. Students are expected to achieve a basic understanding of the OECD Convention on Bribery, other international anti-bribery conventions, and the leading state laws, including the Brazil Clean Companies Act, the UK Bribery Act, and the French Sapin II. Students will also gain an understanding of the role of the World Bank and other multi-lateral development banks in the worldwide scheme.
- We expect students to learn the basic principles of anti-corruption compliance programs, and the manner in which anti-corruption compliance impacts the prevention, detection, investigation, and prosecution of FCPA cases, as well as violations of similar foreign laws.
- Through scenario-based learning, we expect students to gain a facility in applying law to fact and an understanding of how governments and defense counsel approach challenging question of jurisdiction, enforcement, and punishment in a multi-jurisdictional, cross-border setting.