The Department of Justice is investigating potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) committed by Millicom International Cellular SA in Guatemala, the company revealed in a 6-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
According to Stanford Law School’s FCPA ClearingHouse, “Millicom disclosed that it had received a subpoena from the DOJ on April 27, 2022, requesting information concerning the company’s business in Guatemala (“Tigo Guatemala”), including information related to the purchase in 2021 of Millicom’s former joint venture partner’s interest in Tigo Guatemala and information related to any contacts with certain Guatemalan government officials.”
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.
In August, Boston Scientific, a biotechnical engineering firm, revealed in a quarterly filing that a whistleblower alleges the company violated the FCPA with its activities in Vietnam.
2021 was a down year for FCPA enforcement. According to a report from 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.