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Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) Compliance Lawyers

Compliance Under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) is a broad but largely misunderstood legislation that underlies multiple federal investigations every year. If your business is engaged in (or gearing up to engage in) transactions carrying FCPA implications, compliance should be a top priority.

For companies with operations abroad and foreign interests, the importance of FCPA compliance cannot be emphasized enough. The FCPA applies to a wide range of corporate and commercial transactions, and companies’ compliance requirements extend to their accounting and disclosure practices, too. It is enforced by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) as well as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).  While a lot of company owners and executives presume that the FCPA is not an issue due to their efforts to avoid any transactions that might look to be “corrupt,” the statute’s sweeping applicability indicates that companies can face exposure under a broad array of different scenarios commonly coming under FCPA compliance in general.  Some situations may result in the need for a FCPA defense attorney.


George FernandezGeorge Fernandez
14:16 30 Apr 24
Excellent 10 out of 10, Helped resolve my case. Jeremy explained everything and made everything easy to understand.
21:33 24 Apr 24
If you are looking for a lawyer that listens, is aggressive where needed, and holds his word above all else, Todd is the best pick. I had hired multiple attorneys prior to hiring the Spodek Group for a white collar case. The first thing that stood out to me was the cost, as anyone going through the process and dealing with the system, money was tight at that time - especially after hiring and firing multiple lawyers. The cost was not as high as others which was definitely a plus. Todd's intake process was also unlike other attorneys. He took the time to actually listen. He cared. He was trying to put himself in my shoes while I was explaining the situation to him and he really took the time to understand the whole situation. Other lawyers will give you 15 mins and send you a retainer agreement. Not Todd, I think he spent almost two hours with me as I was explaining everything.Not only was he great during the onboarding process, he was supportive and very informative through the entire plea process and eventually sentencing. After hiring him, I asked if I should hire a prison consultant, he told me to save my money as he would do everything they would. He was right and held up to his word. Later on I would hear from others that went with the prison consultants that they were a waste of money - I am glad I listened to Todd!When it came time for sentencing, two days prior to sentencing, the prosecutor tried increasing my proposed prison time by almost double - apparently a normal move. Todd and his team worked with me non-stop through the weekend prior to sentencing to ensure that I was not given additional prison time. Again, he took the time to listen and came up with a strategy to explain the case with great detail.Unfortunately, I did plead guilty as that was my best option. Todd and his whole team wrote up nearly 300 pages of a summary of what happened and why I should not be given prison time. If I breakdown the amount I spent with Todd versus the amount of work that I saw being done, I am shocked I was not charged four times as much. The other benefit was, a lot of criminal defense lawyers were just a single attorney with a paralegal or two. Todd had a team of people that I dealt with (5-7 people that I interacted with), but he was ALWAYS accessible. It would never take him more than an hour to reply unless he was in court.I was sentenced to prison and I was emotionally distraught. Todd and his team did whatever they could even after sentencing to make sure I was alright. He personally stayed in touch with my family to ensure I was doing alright and offered support to them. Most lawyers would consider the job complete at sentencing, not Todd.After prison, Todd still spent time with me to make sure I was on the right track and avoiding any potential risks in the future. He has also been giving advice on how to navigate probation etc and has not been looking at the clock for billing.Although I wish I had never been arrested in the first place, I am glad I had Todd and his team in my corner. Without them I likely would have had to spend a lot more time in prison than I did.Thank you, Todd, and the entire Spodek Law team, for helping turn what was a nightmare into a manageable situation!
Yelva Saint-PreuxYelva Saint-Preux
19:26 19 Apr 24
I am immensely grateful to the entire team at Spodek Law Group for their unwavering dedication and exceptional expertise throughout my case. From our initial consultation to the final resolution, their professionalism and tireless advocacy made all the difference. Their strategic approach and attention to detail instilled confidence in me every step of the way.Thanks to their hard work and commitment, we achieved a truly favorable outcome that exceeded my expectations. Not only did they navigate the complexities of my case with precision, but they also provided invaluable support and guidance during what was undoubtedly a challenging time. I cannot recommend Spodek Law Group highly enough, especially attorneys Todd Spodek and Claire Banks; they are beacons of excellence in the legal profession.YSP.
Katherine SunKatherine Sun
18:08 18 Apr 24
my lawyer is Alex Zhik. Efficient, patient and professional
Nun yaNun ya
17:48 18 Apr 24
Todd, Ralph and Alex are amazing. Helped my husband get from a double digit number with multiple charges to a single digit, by the time I blink he will be out. They very professional and help with all your needs. They dealt with my anxiety and worry very well and they understand that your family member needs to get home as soon as possible.
Keisha ParrisKeisha Parris
20:45 15 Mar 24
Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
Taïko BeautyTaïko Beauty
16:26 15 Mar 24
I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence.Thank you team!
K MarK Mar
01:37 25 Jan 24
I recently had Spodek Law Group represent me for a legal matter in NYC and I am thoroughly impressed with their services.Alex Zhik secured the best possible outcome for my case.It was a seamless journey from the initial consultation to the resolution of my legal matter. From the moment I spoke to Todd about my case, his enthusiasm to help was evident, setting a positive tone for the entire experience. The efficiency and professionalism displayed by the team is commendable.A particularly noteworthy aspect of their service is their user-friendly portal to upload your documents/evidence. This not only simplified the process, but showcases their commitment to streamline the client experience.Lastly, in an industry where legal fees can often be a concern, I found their pricing to be very reasonable, making needing legal assistance feel accessible and stress-free.I am grateful for their support and wouldn't hesitate to turn to them again in the future.

As it was originally enacted, the FCPA covers transactions between U.S. businesses and foreign government officials. That said, amendments to the statute have significantly increased its purview to foreign entities engaging in “corrupt” transactions within U.S. borders. 


The Department of Justice summarized it thusly:


“Since 1977, the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA have applied to all U.S. persons and certain foreign issuers of securities. With the enactment of certain amendments in 1998, the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA now also apply to foreign firms and persons who cause, directly or through agents, an act in furtherance of such a corrupt payment to take place within the territory of the United States.


“The FCPA also requires companies whose securities are listed in the United States to meet its accounting provisions. . . . These accounting provisions, which were designed to operate in tandem with the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA, require corporations . . . to (a) make and keep books and records that accurately and fairly reflect the transactions of the corporation and (b) devise and maintain an adequate system of internal accounting controls.”


The SEC explains further :


“The [FCPA] generally prohibits the payment of bribes to foreign officials to assist in obtaining or retaining business. The FCPA can apply to prohibited conduct anywhere in the world and extends to publicly traded companies and their officers, directors, employees, stockholders, and agents. . . .


“The FCPA also requires issuers to maintain accurate books and records and have a system of internal controls sufficient to, among other things, provide reasonable assurances that transactions are executed and assets are accessed and accounted for in accordance with management’s authorization.”


How Do I Maintain FCPA Compliance?

Taking the scope of the FCPA into account, what does it take for an organization to stay FCPA compliant? In particular, when is compliance necessary, and what steps need to be taken in avoiding undesirable scrutiny from the DOJ and SEC?


  1. Does the FCPA Applies to Your Company?

Step one toward making informed choices about FCPA compliance is to figure out whether compliance is a requirement for your company. As detailed in the FCPA Resource Guide, which is jointly published by the DOJ’s Criminal Division and the Enforcement Division of the SEC, the FCPA is applicable to three types of entities, or “persons”:


“Issuers” – A company can be classified as an “issuer” under the FCPA if either (i) it is listed on a U.S. stock exchange, or (ii) it is required to enter SEC reports in connection with over-the-counter trading activity.

“Domestic Concerns” – A “domestic concern” is a person or business entity whose principal place of business is in the United States or is organized under U.S. federal or state law.

Certain Other Persons in the U.S. – The FCPA also pertains to any foreign individual or entity who “engage[s] in any act in furtherance of a corrupt payment (or an offer, promise, or authorization to pay) while in the territory of the United States.”


  1. Figuring Out Whether Transactions Raise FCPA Implications

Entities that fall under the FCPA’s jurisdiction, the ensuing question that to be answered is if a particular transaction bears FCPA implications. As detailed in the DOJ’s and SEC’s FCPA Resource Guide, “[t]he FCPA applies only to payments intended to induce or influence a foreign official to use his or her position ‘in order to assist . . . in obtaining or retaining business for or with, or directing business to, any person.’ This requirement is known as the ‘business purpose test’ and is broadly interpreted.”


Some examples of transactions that may set off FCPA enforcement under the “business purpose test” include payments that are unlawful and are made for the purpose of:


Obtaining or retaining government contracts

Securing favorable tax treatment

Eliminating customs duties or circumventing regulatory requirements

Preveningt competitors from entering the market

Winning a contract, gaining access to non-public bid information, or otherwise influencing the procurement process

Influencing the outcome of legislative, regulatory, or judicial proceedings


While a bribe can be in the form of a monetary payment, the FCPA covers any transactions involving “anything of value.”.  Meals, travel, event tickets, physical gifts, securities, “free” access to venues and benefits, and loans are a few examples of things of value that can trigger FCPA enforcement. In a number of cases, the DOJ and SEC have re-classified payments structured as commissions and consulting fees as bribes that are unlawful and in violation of the FCPA.


  1. Establishing Procedures, Policies, and a Top-Down Culture of Compliance

We have made it clear that the FCPA is very broad in its scope.  Just about any transaction involving a foreign official can potentially trigger DOJ and/or SEC scrutiny. Due to this fact, companies involved in overseas dealings should adopt FCPA compliance programs proactively. Their programs should be designed to make certain that executives and personnel at all levels of the organization avoid making and accepting offers that carry the potential to end up in civil or criminal enforcement. In general, an effective FCPA compliance program should consist of:


Documentation of  FCPA Compliance Policies and Procedures

For the purpose of  establishing compliance, companies should adopt standalone FCPA compliance policies and procedures. Just as critical as establishing compliance, if not more so in certain respects, implementing effective FCPA compliance documentation will also assist in  demonstrating good-faith compliance efforts and overcoming any allegations of willful non-compliance in the event of a DOJ or SEC investigation.


Developing a Culture of Compliance: A “Top Down” Approach

Emphasis on the criticality of FCPA compliance should start from the top and make its way downward. Communications should be created and distributed in order to demonstrate this top-down approach, and companies should make additional efforts to develop and nurture a company-wide culture of compliance.


Organization-Wide Training in FCPA Compliance

Creating a company-wide culture of compliance, and demonstrating compliance to the DOJ and SEC, also necessitates compliance training organization-wide FCPA. Training programs work well if they are custom-tailored to your company’s unique business operations and to the roles of individual employees’ in ensuring compliance in foreign transactions. This is so not only for board members, executives, and other high-level staff members, but also for  any other employees who could potentially be involved in communications with foreign officials, “intermediaries,” or other third parties.


FCPA Compliance Review, Remedies, and Enforcement for Third-Party Contracts

When working with third parties in executing foreign investments and other transactions, an important aspect of FCPA compliance entails ensuring that these third parties are held accountable for compliance also. While businesses can – and should – place warranties, indemnification clauses, and other provisions in agreements so that they apportion liability for statutory violations appropriately, it might also be necessary to carry out (and document) due diligence so as to determine whether or not third parties have sufficient compliance policies and protocols in place.


Internal Transactional and Accounting Controls

Any time a potential  risk exists of payments being exectutred in violation of the FCPA, companies need to implement internal transactional and accounting oversight measures that are designed to both (i) prevent unlawful payments whenever possible, and (ii) identify illegal transactions as soon as possible after they occur. In addition to creating and putting internal compliance policies and procedures in place, our laywers can assist with the establishment of such controls.


Internal Investigations and Audits

In keeping with to other corporate compliance initiatives, an effective FCPA compliance program also must include internal auditing protocols and procedures for promptly conducting appropriate investigations internally. Should an audit or investigation ever reveal a potential FCPA violation, remedial action needs to be taken right away. What is required in terms of remedial action will be highly dependent upon the particular facts and circumstances involved.


DOJ and SEC Investigation Preparedness

In closing, a solid program for FCPA compliance should have an immediate action plan for responding to a DOJ or SEC investigation. Everything from whistleblower complaints to questions about the contents of companies’ public filings should be considered.  Indeed, FCPA investigations can have numerouss potential triggers. Figuring out what triggered an investigation is a critical early step toward executing a winning defense, and this will usually involve making contact with federal agents who are assigned to the inquiry. While there exist measures that company leadership and personnel can (and should) take immediately, all communications with the DOJ and SEC should be dealt with by the company’s FCPA compliance attorneys.

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