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Is the FCPA a testosterone thing?

As the New Year kicks into full swing, I decided to take a retrospective look at the last several years of individual FCPA enforcement actions. Looking through on a year-to-year basis, a not entirely surprising trend began to emerge: the number of men prosecuted by the Department of Justice for violations of the FCPA outnumbered women. What was shocking however was the immense disparity: Men made up an astounding 96.7% of all defendants since January 2008.

While a study by the ACFE credited men with responsibility for nearly 75% of all white-collar crimes, the nearly exclusive nature of male FCPA defendants is still confounding. Rational people may surmise that men occupy a large majority of positions exposed to FCPA risk. While this is likely true, no hard and fast statistics on FCPA exposure by gender exist.

One viable thesis could be a combination of “nature and nurture.” With greater opportunity for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, men are placed in positions wherein behaviors such as aggression and risk taking, traits more regularly attributed to men, are encouraged. Sometimes, such as in the case of bribery and corruption, this penchant for risks results in questionable, if not illegal, behavior in pursuit of an advantage for themselves and their company.

One caveat to the staggering 96.7% figure is that the 22 defendants named and later exonerated in the Africa Sting prosecution were all males and skew the numbers even more towards men. Still, even when removing those 22, men still made up 95% of all FCPA defendants over the last several years.

With women achieving growing academic and professional advancement, it is possible that the massive disparity between male and female FCPA defendants may subside. However, even as more women ascend into executive positions, it is possible that societal norms that encourage risk-taking behavior in men yet discourage similar behavior in women will mean that the vast majority of FCPA offenders will remain men.


Andrew Reichardt is a former editorial intern for the FCPA Blog. He is a graduate of Georgetown University, where he was the president and founding member of the Student Chapter of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. He is currently pursuing his CFE, CAMS and CPA. He can be contacted here.