Hogan Lovells' 2015 Annual Global Bribery and Corruption Review Analyzes White Collar Crime Developments

LONDON/WASHINGTON, 13 JANUARY 2016 – Hogan Lovells released its sixth annual Global Bribery and Corruption Review today, which reviews the latest international developments in anti-bribery and corruption regulation and enforcement, and anticipates 2016 trends.

The review analyzes anti-bribery and corruption regulation and enforcement lessons learned in 2015 as well as the main challenges that have emerged for global organizations to address in 2016.

While the US often continues to take a lead role in anti-bribery and corruption investigations, there have been significant developments across the world that are continually reshaping the landscape for multinationals in this critical space.

The review addresses such topics as:

  • Corporate executives should be wary because the Department of Justice (DOJ) has stated that it plans to prioritize the prosecution of corporate executives going forward.
  • US authorities will now require fully functional and tested programs with companies seeking leniency, not just the required documents.
  • Due to the high cost of massive internal investigations, the DOJ plans to encourage smaller and more focused investigations.
  • There is a new phase of fighting global corruption in the commercial arena using laws that go beyond the FCPA’s normal bribery of foreign officials’ arena.
  • 2015 brought two significant developments to the UK and its leading anti-corruption agency, SFO: (1) England’s first deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) and (2) the SFO’s first conviction of a company for overseas bribery.
  • The decrease of DOJ enforcement actions, due in part to an increase in voluntary self-disclosure and cooperation by corporations.
  • The 2015 “Safe Harbor” decision by the Court of Justice in the European Union has made cross-border investigations even harder, and violations of the new regulations can hold severe consequences, such as regulatory and criminal liability, to name a few.

The review also explores markets such as Asia, Brazil and France. The spotlight on Asia focuses on China and its recent difficulties and successes. Anti-corruption is a rapidly developing area of the law in China. Less inconsistency and greater predictability in enforcement actions will be welcomed by companies operating in China, however companies should still expect the unexpected.

The report also closely analyses how Brazil has drastically increased its anti-corruption enforcement in order to uncover corruption and bribery schemes that are plaguing the country. These investigations have spread from the country’s petroleum industry to the construction, electric utility and banking industries, and are now threatening the viability of Brazilian government.

Crispin Rapinet, global head of Hogan Lovells’ investigations white collar and fraud practice, explained:

“The SFO has come through several embarrassing setbacks and periodic threats to its existence from the UK government in recent years, which has destabilized the investigations landscape in the UK and further afield. But it's fighting back: the UK's first DPA in 2015 was a landmark ruling and an important new device in the anti-corruption toolkit. It's been seen by many as a judicial blessing on the SFO, and an important vindication of its continued relevance and competence – and so confidence in the SFO is on the up and sentiment in the investigations landscape generally is rising.”

“Concurrently, there has been a recent decrease of investigations by the DOJ, but this does not reflect a shift in its priorities for 2016. The DOJ plans to focus on the most consequential cases and will encourage cooperation by providing incentives,” Rapinet continued.

An executive summary of The Global Bribery and Corruption Review 2015/16 can be found here.

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