BY JOACHIM BAMRUD
Experts are seeing more cases of U.S. companies violating the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) in Latin America. The FCPA prohibits U.S. companies and their executives from making payments to foreign government officials to assist in obtaining or retaining business. Violations may result in criminal penalties.
“I have noticed an increase in FCPA cases in Latin America over the last few years,” says Matthew Feeley, a shareholder with Buchanan Ingersoll.
However, Feeley and other experts say the increase is in large part due to growing enforcement by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
”Through its enforcement actions, the SEC and DOJ have increased their focus over the last two years in Latin America,” says Marta Alfonso, a partner in the litigation support department of U.S.-based accounting firm Morrison, Brown, Argiz & Farra.
And the trend is expected to continue. “We expect this to continue to trend upwards with the continued and significant staffing up of dedicated FCPA teams at the DOJ and SEC under the Obama administration, the growing globalization of anti-corruption and anti-bribery legal initiatives and enforcement, and also, following the financial crisis which has left US growth prospects weak, a spike in investment in Latin America by US corporations that have not ventured into the region before and need assistance,” says Simon Strong, senior managing director of forensic and litigation consulting at FTI, a U.S.-based risk consultancy firm that has significant FCPA business. An estimated 50 percent of the company’s cases in Latin America are now FCPA related.
A Shearman & Sterling overview of 40 criminal violations of the FCPA in Latin America, shows 14 the past two years, including eight last year. The cases span most countries in Latin America, although Mexico stands out with ten cases, followed by Haiti, with five cases and Brazil and Ecuador, with four cases each.
Even Costa Rica...
Keywords: Alcatel, FTI, Helmerich & Payne, Jones Lang LaSalle, Latin Node, Owl Securities and Investment, Ports Engineering Consultants Corporation, Telecommunications D’ Haiti, Transparency International