While looking at FCPA enforcement data, Bruce Hinchey, left, made a startling and disturbing discovery about the consequences of self reporting.
Here's his story:
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Dear FCPA Blog,
Many question the Department of Justice’s claim that there are tangible benefits to voluntary disclosure of a FCPA violation.
As a part of a yet unpublished paper, I consider the data from 40 FCPA cases from 2002 through 2009 and the differences between bribes paid and penalties levied against companies that do and do not self-disclose.
In the paper, linear regression analysis of the cases reveals a sound statistical relationship between the amounts a company bribes and the corresponding fine it receives. For now, I will focus on the fine-to-bribe ratio companies face for FCPA violations. The fine-to-bribe ratio is calculated by simply dividing the total penalty a company received by the amount it bribed.
Within the voluntary disclosure group the fine-to-bribe ratios ranged from encouragingly low (Bristow Group Inc. and Latinode Inc. stand out with a fine-to-bribe ratio of 0 and .89, respectively) to strikingly high (Baker Hughes Inc. and Schnitzer Steel Industries Inc. had fine-to-bribe ratios of 10.73 and 8.46, respectively). On average, this group faced a 4.53 fine-to-bribe ratio. Thus, it appears as though a voluntarily disclosing company might expect a fine of $4.53 for every dollar given as a bribe.
The involuntary disclosure group also had surprisingly high ratios (Flowserve Corp. and Akzo-Nobel NV had fine-to-bribe ratios of 17.37 and 13.42, respectively) and low ratios (the Chevron Corp. and El Paso Corp.’s fine-to-bribe ratios were 1.5 and 1.41, respectively). This group, however, faced an average fine-to-bribe ratio of 3.22, suggesting a non-voluntarily disclosing company might expect a fine of only $3.22 per dollar bribed, compared to the voluntary disclosure group’s 4.53. This ratio would be even lower had it included the disproportionately low fine-to-bribe ratios levied in the cases against Siemens AG and KBR, which I dismissed as outliers.
Given the bribe-to-fine ratios in the published cases in recent years, the Justice Department appears not to be following up with its promised benefits. The seemingly disproportionate bribe-to-fine ratios outlined above raise questions about whether current FCPA enforcement is fundamentally fair.
Bruce is a lawyer completing an LLM in government procurement law at the George Washington University Law School. His paper, "Punishing the Penitent: Disproportionate Fines in Recent FCPA Enforcements and Suggested Improvements," can be downloaded at SSRN here.
It was generous of Bruce to share his work with us and our readers. Thank you, Bruce, for blowing our mind.
He's currently looking for a position in an FCPA defense and government contracts practice and can be reached at email@example.com