Whistleblowers providing increasing amounts of evidence in FCPA cases, US officials say

25 Jul 2019 12:00 am by Robert Thomason

Whistleblowers are becoming an increasingly important resource for detecting Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations, US enforcement officials said today.

"We see a larger and larger number of cases coming from whistleblowers," said Robert Dodge, assistant director of FCPA enforcement for the US Securities and Exchange Commission. "The program has really snowballed over the years."

The 2010 Dodd-Frank Act authorized the SEC to establish a whistleblower program that rewards people who provide evidence leading to successful enforcement against an array of financial crimes, including FCPA violations. A whistleblower can be rewarded up to 30 percent of a case's penalties.

"The existence of that program is not lost on people who are working in compliance," Dodge said at a panel discussion* in Washington, DC. The SEC granted its 65th award Tuesday, bringing total payments from its whistleblower office to $385 million.

David Last, assistant chief of the US Justice Department's FCPA Unit, said DOJ whistleblowers are providing increasing amounts of information about bribery cases. He said referrals from  whistleblowers along with information from other enforcement agencies are becoming more prevalent in detecting bribery.

Self-reporting remains an important source of information, Last said. But the DOJ can quickly tell whether a company has come forward to self-report bribery because it takes the issue seriously, he said, or whether the self-reporting firm is just rendering "lip service" because it knows that a whistleblower has already provided information or a foreign law enforcement agency has served a warrant on an office outside the US.

Leslie Backschies, supervising special agent of the FBI's International Corruption Unit, said the bureau receives information from foreign officials concerned about corruption.

She said when there is a regime change, a new administration will sometimes ask for cooperation in investigating corruption in the previous government. Also, when a new government comes in, there may be officials remaining from the last who are willing to report corruption, she said. The FBI has legal attachés (or LEGATs) in 63 countries and sub-offices in 27.

— Self-reporting during mergers —

Dodge also said a "low risk" time for a company to self-report possible FCPA violations is during an acquisition, when due diligence uncovers bribery that occurred under the watch of a target company.

"You will find we are very receptive to working with you to make sure the problem is resolved, and we give lots of credit," he said.

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