By Alice Fisher and Prof. Dr. Thomas Grützner

Recent developments include updated DOJ compliance guidance, a continued rise in FCPA proceedings and penalties, and new investigatory approaches in light of the pandemic.

2020 saw many important developments in US white collar enforcement, driven by Administration priorities, business trends and practices, and the realities of COVID-19. The legal and business communities paid particular attention to the US Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) updated guidance on “Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs,” the growing number of contentious Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) proceedings (matched by significant penalties), and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on investigative strategies by regulators and corporate compliance programs. Now, with the United States transitioning to a new administration, it is yet to be seen whether these trends will continue and what other changes may be in store.

DOJ’s Updated Guidance on Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs

The DOJ issued a number of updates to its guidance in recent years, providing companies and the defense bar with additional transparency into the US government’s priorities and expectations.  In 2020, the DOJ and US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued an updated FCPA Resource Guide (which largely codified well-established policy, case law, and enforcement updates); and in June 2020 the DOJ issued updated guidance for prosecutors evaluating corporate compliance programs. The updated guidance includes the following key enhancements and clarifications. For more information, see this Latham Client Alert.