Walmart investigation shows need for companies to seek guidance on FCPA compliance
Recent revelations of widespread bribery in Walmart's Mexico operations highlight the significant risks associated with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) when operating in Latin America and the essential need for robust compliance programs.
Matteson Ellis, Founder and Principal of Matteson Ellis Law, PLLC, a law firm focused on FCPA compliance in Latin America, explains: "The Walmart case reminds us that, when operating in the region, U.S. companies must have detailed internal controls in place and high-level commitments to compliance from senior management. One of these components does not work without the other."
FCPA compliance is more important than ever. Last year, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recovered more than $500 million for FCPA violations. In 2010, five FCPA settlements exceeded $100 million each. In 2011, the SEC and DOJ initiated almost fifty actions combined. It is estimated that there are currently 150 civil and 80 criminal investigations underway.
The Walmart case demonstrates the need for regional expertise when designing and implementing anti-corruption compliance procedures. Investigations of companies like Walmart, Embraer, Siemens and Tyson Foods in Latin America showcase corruption schemes that are common in this part of the world.
"To effectively manage corruption risks outside of the United States, an understanding of languages, business practices and cultures is critical, and a deep experience in FCPA enforcement and compliance is vital," says Mr. Ellis. "Walmart shows that paper programs alone are insufficient."
About Matteson Ellis Law, PLLC
The FCPA compliance law firm Matteson Ellis Law, PLLC has in-depth experience including on-site investigations in over 20 high corruption risk countries throughout the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia. Firm founder Matteson Ellis has worked on compliance programs under some of the largest FCPA settlements to date, and he has advised The World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, and European Union on fraud and corruption prevention in lending practices with developing countries. Mr. Ellis has a particular focus on Latin America, is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, lived for years in the region, and writes the FCPAméricas Blog. Matteson Ellis Law, PLLC helps companies build internal compliance programs, conduct due diligence on third parties, perform internal investigations, analyze transactions for compliance, and train employees.
Matteson Ellis Law, PLLC
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