DOJ, SEC Diverge in FCPA Approach

January 6th, 2016


DOJ, SEC Diverge in FCPA Approach

Recurring Theme:  Individual Accountability


Summary Analysis: 

The number of total enforcement actions tied to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) fell in 2015 from the prior year. The agencies tasked with FCPA enforcement, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ), brought 20 total actions last year, down from 26 in 2014 and 27 in 2013.

Although each agency brought 10 enforcement actions, they diverged widely in their approach. The SEC applied a more traditional approach to FCPA enforcement, bringing eight out of 10 actions against corporations. Conversely, the DOJ followed an emerging trend of individual accountability, bringing only two actions against corporations and eight against individuals.  Historically, the DOJ has brought enforcement actions parallel to the SEC. In 2016, the DOJ is expected to continue to focus on individual actions and increase investigations after adding 10 new staff members.