FIFA and BHP Billiton: The Unique FCPA Challenges Present in International Sports

Recent enforcement actions by the Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission have raised the profile of corruption in international sport and highlight unique FCPA compliance concerns. This note will explain how the DOJ’s recent charges against FIFA officials and the SEC’s enforcement action against BHP Billiton call attention to the FCPA compliance risks of acquiring and utilizing corporate sponsorships of international sporting events. As explained below, the failure to remain diligent in overseeing effective anti-bribery compliance practices in these instances risks exposing a company to potential FCPA violations.

Introduction -

As of late, the subject of corruption in sports has been on the minds of many. On May 27, 2015 the DOJ released a headline-grabbing 47-count indictment against numerous officials at the international governing body of soccer, FIFA, on charges involving corruption and bribery. Only a week prior, on May 20, 2015, the SEC announced the settlement of an FCPA enforcement action against the multinational mining, metals, and petroleum company, BHP Billiton Ltd., for improper gifts, travel, and entertainment offered in connection with the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Setting aside the disappointment many feel over seeing some of the world’s most beloved sporting events, in particular the World Cup, come under scrutiny for acts of bribery and corruption, these cases underscore the very real FCPA-related compliance risks sporting events pose to companies, particularly those companies seeking to acquire or utilize corporate sponsorships.

Please see full Memo below for more information.

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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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