DOJ and SEC Release Long-Awaited FCPA Resource Guide

On November 14, 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) released their long-anticipated guidance on the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), entitled A Resource Guide to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (the "Guide"). The FCPA has been a hotbed of enforcement activity in recent years, with DOJ and SEC levying billions of dollars in fines against numerous corporations and individuals. The Guide comes in response to a growing chorus of complaints from the business community and defense bar regarding the lack of clarity in many key FCPA provisions. According to DOJ and SEC, the Guide "is an unprecedented undertaking … to provide the public with detailed information about [their] FCPA enforcement approach and priorities."

Although the Guide does not offer any significant departures from previous DOJ and SEC positions, it is a valuable resource for companies and individuals seeking to mitigate FCPA liability. The Guide includes relevant statutory language, administrative actions (including examples where the agencies declined to bring charges), DOJ opinion releases, case law, and hypotheticals regarding the FCPA. Of note, the Guide underscores the priority regulators place on robust compliance programs, thorough internal investigations, and voluntary self-reporting to the government. Although the Guide is "non-binding, informal, and summary in nature," it nevertheless now serves as the best single source for FCPA guidance.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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