Cooperation from early stages in FCPA probes more fruitful for companies, FBI official says

15 May 2019 00:00

Companies that engage with US anticorruption authorities in a reliable and cooperative manner starting in the early stages of discussions have better chances of reaching an amenable resolution, an FBI official said today.

Speaking at a compliance conference* in Brazil, R.W. Simpson, leader of the FBI’s Miami International Corruption Squad, said that law enforcement agents are assessing how reliable a company is from the very beginning of conversations.

“Companies need to be mindful that we, as investigators, are anxious to get the facts," Simpson said during a panel discussion. If authorities perceive something is being hidden, he added, "then our relationship becomes more adversarial."

"The early stages of discussions really set the tone for the relationship. We appreciate when a company brings information in an organized manner," he said.

Simpson said that the US government plans to increase the number of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act cases it brings, which is intended to act as a deterrent effect. Its second priority, he said, will be “autocracy investigations,” which look into foreign officials suspected of using US banks for money-laundering purposes and even attempting to buy American assets.

David Brassanini, FBI’s chief of operations and legal attaché for Brazil, said during the same panel that self-disclosure, cooperation and remediation efforts are the best way for companies to turn the page on corrupt practices.

“It’s a lot easier to take a fine and get on with life. The alternative would be a court fight, but that comes with high costs and takes a long time,” Brassanini said.

He praised the cooperation between US and Brazilian anticorruption agencies and said that Brazilian investigations will continue for a long time.

“Brazil’s Federal Police officials have recently told me that even if they don’t collect any additional information, don’t do any investigative work, they would still have material to carry on with corruption and money-laundering probes for the next five years,” Brassanini said.

*7th International Compliance Congress. Legal, Ethics and Compliance. São Paulo, Brazil. May 14-16, 2019.

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