On August 4, Boston Scientific, a biotechnical engineering firm, filed its quarterly report with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The report, which covered the company’s earnings and activities for the second quarter of the year, reveals that a whistleblower alleges Boston Scientific violated the Foreign and Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) with its activities in Vietnam.
“In March 2022, the Company received a whistleblower letter alleging Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations in Vietnam,” the report states. “The Company is cooperating with government agencies while investigating these allegations.”
The report does not go into further detail about the specifics of the whistleblower allegations, nor the state of the investigation into the allegations.
The FCPA, passed by Congress in 1977, is the main U.S. anti-corruption law. It prohibits the payment of bribes to foreign government officials in order to obtain business advantages. It also contains accounting provisions requiring publicly traded corporations to make and keep books and records that accurately reflect the transactions of the corporation. In 2010, the Dodd-Frank Act (DFA), which established the SEC Whistleblower Program, added whistleblower provisions to the FCPA. Individuals can disclose information relevant to potential FCPA violations to either the SEC or the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).
Through the SEC and CFTC Whistleblower Programs, qualified whistleblowers, individuals who voluntarily provide the SEC or CFTC with original information that leads to a successful enforcement action, are entitled to a monetary award of 10-30% of funds recovered by the government. Additionally, the DFA’s related action provisions allow whistleblowers to receive awards when their disclosure to the SEC also leads to a successful enforcement action by another agency. For example, a whistleblower whose disclosure leads to FCPA charges by both the SEC and the DOJ could be eligible for awards based on the sanctions collected by both agencies.
According to a report from Stanford University’s FCPA Clearinghouse, 2021 saw the lowest amount of FCPA enforcement actions in a decade. The report states that the SEC and DOJ only filed 18 FCPA enforcement actions in 2021.