The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) is a U.S. law that prohibits bribery. The FCPA is enforced by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) who regularly issue fines to companies for violating the FCPA. Of note, the SEC also issues million-dollar awards to people who report FCPA violations. If you want to report FCPA violations, here are 5 important steps to take:
If you are thinking of reporting an FCPA violation, it is critical that you speak with an experienced FCPA attorney. If you report an FCPA violation to your employer or someone else before speaking with an attorney, you may face retaliation or lose out on the possibility of claiming a whistleblower award. This can happen even if your employer offers 'confidential' reporting or a 'whistleblower hotline.' FTI Law has experienced FCPA attorneys and offers free consultations that are completely confidential. Speaking to an attorney will cost you nothing, assist you report the FCPA violation and often, the attorney may be able to report the FCPA violation on your behalf.
Whether you are reporting the violation yourself or using an attorney, the DOJ and SEC will expect you to have some basic knowledge about the FCPA. This means you should get familiar with the elements of an FCPA violation before you report. This is something you can discuss with your attorney, or check our article on how to recognize an FCPA violation. The key elements will be describing the government official involved, the item of value that was given or promised to them, and the motivation for the actions.
In addition to reporting what you have witnessed, you can also supply documents, emails or other evidence to support claim. This will help convince the DOJ and SEC to investigate the FCPA violation. However, it is also important that you do not obtain evidence illegally, such as by accessing other people's property or devices without their permission. When figuring out what evidence to gather, your attorney will be able to advise what it is safe to collect and what it is not. Even if your employer has made you sign an Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), you are always entitled to speak to your attorney about these issues without breaching the NDA.
When reporting an FCPA violation, you may be entitled to a whistleblower award for reporting and potentially protection from retaliation. However, much of this could depend on who you report to first. For example, certain U.S. laws provide protections for individuals who report FCPA violations to federal regulators like the SEC and DOJ. However, those protections do not apply if the person only reports to their employer. Similarly, if you report an FCPA violation to the SEC, you could be entitled to an SEC whistleblower reward, but reporting only to the DOJ may affect your ability to claim an award. In 2021, the SEC paid a whistleblower $28 million for reporting FCPA violations.
Both the SEC and DOJ have specific time limits in which they can prosecute FCPA violations. For certain violations, this could be as short as 5 years, and an investigation could take 2-3 years. If you want the SEC and DOJ to investigate the violation, you need to give them as much time as possible by reporting early. If you want to claim a whistleblower award this is especially important, as if someone reports the same information you have before you, they will get the whistleblower award. Even if you are the only person with the information, the SEC can reduce a person's award if they delayed in reporting.
If you have information on an FCPA violation contact us immediately to find out if you can claim a whistleblower award.
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