Don’t Expect Too Much From DOJ’S Upcoming “New FCPA Guidance”


After the last few years of extremely aggressive DOJ prosecutions under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), white collar practitioners and the business community generally can be forgiven if they saw a ray of hope in the recent comments of Lanny Breuer, the head of DOJ’s criminal division. Breuer, speaking at a November 2011 FCPA conference in Washington, announced that in 2012, DOJ would be releasing “detailed new guidance” on criminal and civil FCPA enforcement. The chairman of the conference characterized Breuer’s announcement as a “big step” that was “pretty significant.”

Breuer’s announcement created an initial buzz of excitement. After all, the Chamber of Commerce had recently proposed amendments to clarify and limit the FCPA, and congressional hearings had been held in 2010 and 2011. And earlier in 2011, the United Kingdom had released its own formal Guidance regarding the UK’s new Bribery Act 2010, which contains foreign bribery provisions similar to the FCPA. The UK’s Guidance was quite extraordinary: Following six months of public comment and debate, the Guidance was 43 pages long; contained six guiding Principles and 11 Case Studies; and was accompanied by a 7-page Quick Start Guide and a 12-page brochure on Prosecution Guidance.

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