The Blanch Law Firm advises and defends clients doing business worldwide. For such individuals and companies, having a compliance policy that encompasses the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) is a necessity in today’s vigorous enforcement environment. Our attorneys possess the technical mastery to lead corporate clients through onerous federal and state government investigations and prosecutions. By taking a proactive approach, our legal experts can negotiate a settlement of charges brought by regulatory agencies and prosecutors that eliminates costly fines or possible jail time. The firm also implements post-settlement FCPA compliance programs which are required by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Knowledgeable, experienced, and thorough in FCPA regulations, negotiations, litigation, and settlements, the Blanch Law Firm can devise a state-of the art compliance system, with internal controls and other procedures, to prevent FCPA violations from occurring.
If you are in business internationally, the DOJ can scrutinize your operations for purposes of prosecuting any corrupt activities that might fall afoul of the FCPA. Under the Bush administration, the U.S. Attorney General boasted that the DOJ had "substantially increased its focus and attention on this important law, and we are getting results."
The Blanch Law Firm expects that a major priority Obama administration's DOJ will be ever-increasing investigation of FCPA violations. In particular, special care must be taken nowadays when dealing with oil companies abroad. According to DOJ statistics, about a third of all FCPA prosecutions in the last 10 years involved business done with oil companies, especially state-owned entities, which are known as "nationally-owned oil companies" or NCOs.
The FCPA prohibits U.S. companies or foreign issuers (any corporation offering securities in the marketplace) from engaging in bribery of government officials. Because the statute and case law following it provide a broad definition of "government official," any employee of an NOC could conceivably be classified as within the scope of the prohibition. Thus, payments of any kind that could be interpreted as an inducement must be avoided. And special attention must be paid to transporting goods in and out of foreign countries because of the potential for corruption among government agents in the realms of customs, excise taxes, freight movers, commodities brokers and any other such third party involvement in import/export transactions. The FCPA makes clear that any company will be considered in violation for acts of agents or third parties who conduct business on its behalf.
To avoid problems within domestic ccompany policies that can result in violations, The Blanch Law Firm provides comprehensive guidance to clients in the following ways:
Counseling on FCPA guidelines through U.S. Department of State contacts who can draft a written company policy that is an up-to-date to ensure compliance;
Knowledge of formal legal opinion letters drafted and signed by attorneys at the DOJ based on inquiries submitted about conduct that is questionable under the FCPA;
Familiarity with the Commercial Service offerings of the U.S. Department of Commerce to help companies find representatives to act as buyers in foreign lands and to help company agents to avoid FCPA-related problems;
Use of Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) services to ensure compliance under the Patriot Act with OFAC regulations when operating in "gray" areas of international commerce;
Maintaining links with the U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), including its Office of Exporter Services and its Outreach and Educational Services Division, to answer client questions as they arise.
The Blanch Law Firm cannot stress sufficiently the need for today's business savvy client to implement an effective FCPA compliance policy and to put it in writing. Without it, your company and its representatives face exposure to charges that can result in massive fines and potential jail time. Don't wait to hire expert legal counsel with experience in the complexities of the FCPA.
To discuss your legal options in a free consultation, Contact The Blanch Law Firm by calling 212-736-3900.