By: Mark Tarallo
The Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) is charged with enforcing the accounting provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”). Section 30A of the Securities Exchange Act prohibits any officer, director, employee, or agent acting on behalf of a publicly traded issuer from giving anything of value to a foreign official in order to secure business from that official’s government. Typically, enforcement actions result in penalties against the issuer. However, for the first time since 2012, in November 2014 the SEC brought charges against individuals for violating the FCPA resulting in a cease and desist order and monetary penalties against the individuals. The individuals provided certain officials of the Saudi Arabian government with expensive gifts and extensive travel (not in any way necessary to, or in connection with, the proposed business). The individuals then falsified records in an effort to cover up their actions. The SEC found that the individuals were responsible for the violations, and that the issuer had both a strong compliance policy and a training program in place for individuals dealing with foreign governments. While the SEC indicated that the investigation is continuing, no charges have been brought against the issuer. The SEC order can be found here .
Publicly traded companies doing business (or attempting to business) overseas should make sure that they are familiar with the provisions of the FCPA and have a robust training and compliance program in place in order to make sure that all employees who may be dealing with foreign officials are well aware of their compliance and reporting obligations.
For more information on this topic, please feel free to contact Mark Tarallo.