DOJ, SEC Issue FCPA Guidance: Brave New World or Much Ado About Nothing?

    View Author November 2012

    At the urging of corporations and legislators seeking greater clarity and guidance on best practices for interpreting and protecting against liability under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) released A Resource Guide to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (the Guide).

    In its 10 chapters, the Guide provides an overview of the current state of the FCPA as interpreted by the courts, the DOJ and the SEC. In addition to setting forth black-letter law, the Guide provides concrete examples of the FCPA's practical application through hypotheticals and through anonymized anecdotes in which the government declined to prosecute, constituting what Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer described as perhaps "the most comprehensive effort ever undertaken by either the Justice Department or the SEC to explain [their] approach to enforcing a particular statute." Although the compilation of existing interpretive guidance in a single volume will make the Guide a useful centralized resource, the lack of substantial new information will do little to satisfy those pushing for greater clarity in the language and interpretation of the FCPA.