Enforcement activity reached new heights in 2019. The year saw the two largest corporate resolutions in the history of the FCPA, corporate penalties paid to US enforcement agencies topped last year’s record levels, and individuals were charged at a pace matching last year’s near-record level. The enforcement agencies also issued a number of policy announcements that may significantly impact prospective enforcement activity. Below are five key takeaways regarding FCPA enforcement in 2019:
- As we predicted last year, blockbuster resolutions with large penalties continued in 2019, including most notably, the record-setting Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson (Ericsson) and Mobile Telesystems PJSC actions.
- DOJ continues to issue revised policies and other guidance documents that appear business-friendly on their face, though corporate enforcement remains robust.
- Although the Second Circuit’s 2018 Hoskins decision may limit the enforcement authorities’ ability to prosecute foreign actors in some circumstances, the DOJ’s conviction of Hoskins in Fall 2019 and the authorities’ reliance on agency principles in the Ericsson resolution demonstrate the FCPA’s continued strength and reach.
- The DOJ FCPA unit took four cases (five individuals) to trial in 2019, matching a record for the unit.
- US enforcement agencies continue to target foreign companies for enforcement activity. Among the top 10 FCPA enforcement actions in history, only one was brought against a US-based company.