No FCPA guidance just yet
I noted recently that people had been expecting formal "guidance" from the Department of Justice on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
More specifically, the business community has been waiting for this guidance since November 8, 2011, when Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer stated in a speech that the DOJ in 2012 planned to "release detailed new guidance on the [FCPA's] criminal and civil enforcement provisions."
The conventional wisdom evolved to the point that the guidance was expected before the October 10, 2012, meeting of the OECD anti-bribery working group. But that date has come and gone, and still there is no guidance -- not that it was ever actually promised by that date.
This may have been a "straw-man" deadline all along,, but it's still fairly clear that demand for such guidance remains high. While the Department of Justice continues to keep people waiting, regulators in the U.K. have taken the initiative.
The Serious Fraud Office has issued guidance on how it will prosecute violations of the Bribery Act 2010. The SFO is an independent agency that investigates and prosecutes serious fraud and corruption. Some have likened it to the SEC and Department of Justice. The new policies are related to three main areas: Facilitation payments, business expenditure (hospitality and gifts mainly ) and corporate self-reporting.
This is a relevant issue for U.S. companies, many of which do business in the United Kingdom. The U.K.'s guidance was something of a surprise, and we can only speculate as to why it acted while the U.S. has delayed. My sense is that the SFO thought the U.S. would issue guidance, and it wanted to be sure that its voice was in the mix as well. -Jim