Guest Post: A Pending Federal Case Could–and Should–Limit the FCPA’s Extraterritorial Reach

GAB is pleased to welcome back Frederick Davis, a lawyer in the Paris office of Debevoise & Plimpton, who contributes the following guest post:

Can the U.S. government prosecute an individual for Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) violations if that individual is not a U.S. citizen or resident, and committed no unlawful act in U.S. territory? An important case posing that question is now before a U.S. appeals court. The decision may have important implications on the territorial reach of the FCPA.

The facts and relevant statutory provisions are straightforward, although the analysis is not. The defendant, Lawrence Hoskins, is a British national who at all relevant times was an officer of a British subsidiary of French manufacturing giant Alstom. Alstom and several of its subsidiaries were investigated by the US Department of Justice for alleged illicit payments in Indonesia, and ultimately reached a global corporate settlement that included several corporate guilty pleas and Deferred Prosecution Agreements, pursuant to which the corporate entities paid US fines of over US$750 million. The DOJ also pursued several individuals, including Mr. Hoskins, who was ultimately arrested when he arrived in the United States on vacation. His attorneys moved to dismiss the indictment on the ground that the US prosecutor lacked power to prosecute him. After energetic procedural activity by both sides, the District Court granted his motion in significant part. Unusually, the prosecutor appealed, and oral argument was heard on March 2, 2017.

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The OECD Convention and Extraterritorial FCPA Jurisdiction

I suggested in an earlier post that a major reason for the increase in foreign anti-bribery prosecutions in other countries since the passage of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention is increased enforcement of the FCPA against foreign companies by the US government. In this post, I will set out, in a little more depth, one factor that contributed to bringing this effect about, namely a broadened scope for enforcement jurisdiction under ยง78dd-3 of the FCPA.

An important effect of the entry into force of the OECD Convention was that it provided “cover” for expansive US enforcement of the FCPA. Equally important, though, was the contribution it made in providing the legal means by which the US Department of Justice was actually able to undertake this expansion. Broader enforcement has helped to push standards for anti-bribery enforcement into convergence around the world, and has encouraged other countries to start enforcing their own laws more seriously.

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