The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has begun to beef up its Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) enforcement division after a record year for global fraud penalties. Last year, the FCPA unit helped impose a record-breaking $7.84 billion in fines. A former assistant chief in the FCPA unit, Billy Jacobson, said in a recent Wall Street Journal article: “I’d be very surprised if it doesn’t continue apace.” The FCPA unit now has a record number of employees, with 39 staff prosecutors.
The most recent addition to the team is Lauren Kootman, who will serve as a compliance specialist. A spokesperson for the FCPA unit recently said that they would move towards a larger team of compliance experts instead of only relying on a single person as the unit had in the past. Kootman has years of experience in monitoring companies that have agreed to pay large fines for allegedly violating the FCPA. In many of these cases, the company is then required to work with a monitoring team for a period of time to ensure better compliance protocols and stop fraud before it happens again. Kootman has worked on both the side of the company and the side of the mandated monitoring team. Having the opportunity to see the process from both sides may be valuable in her new position. The FCPA unit only created such a position in 2015, and is still developing their strategies for encouraging compliance.
The FCPA fraud unit also works to encourage companies to proactively create protocols and programs that reduce the risk of fraud. Hiring a large and experienced staff of FCPA prosecutors sends a clear message to fraudsters that the DOJ is ready and willing to go after bribery and corruption. The FCPA has strong whistleblower protections and rewards that anyone with insider knowledge of foreign fraud or corruption can take advantage of, regardless of their nationality. Citizens of any country can report FCPA violations and be eligible for a reward of 10 to 30% of the total funds recovered by the government. Prospective whistleblowers may also be considered for a reward if that report anonymously through an attorney.