Under certain circumstances, the IRS and SEC/CFTC whistleblower programs allow whistleblowers to proceed without an attorney. However, beacuse there are important considerations when deciding how to proceed, it is advisable to contact an experienced whistleblower attorney.
The SEC whistleblower program provides rewards for individuals who provide the government with information about violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) of 1977. The FCPA makes it unlawful to bribe a foreign government official to obtain or retain business. The Act prohibits U.S. companies and individuals from paying money or any other sort of inducement, including an offer or promise to pay money or anything of value, to a foreign official with the intent to influence a decision or action affecting that company’s business.
In a nutshell, the FCPA seeks to eliminate bribery of foreign public officials as a means of obtaining or retaining business. The FCPA was enacted in an effort to halt widespread bribery of foreign officials, and was intended to create a level playing field for honest businesses.
The FCPA contains two provisions: the anti-bribery provisions and the accounting provisions. The anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA prohibit U.S. persons and businesses, U.S. and foreign public companies listed on stock exchanges in the United States or which are required to file periodic reports with the SEC, and certain foreign persons and businesses acting while in the territory of the United States, from making “corrupt payments” to foreign officials to obtain or retain business.
The FCPA’s accounting provisions, which were designed to operate in tandem with the anti-bribery provisions, require public companies to make and keep accurate books and records and to devise an adequate system of internal accounting controls, and prohibits individuals and businesses from knowingly falsifying books and records or knowingly circumventing or failing to implement a system of internal controls.
In recent years, FCPA enforcement activity by the SEC and DOJ has increased sharply. In 2010, the SEC’s Enforcement Division created a specialized unit to further enhance its enforcement of the FCPA, and both agencies continue to increase FCPA enforcement efforts each year. In the first month of 2017 alone, the SEC had 5 FCPA enforcement actions, and in 2016, the SEC had 21 FCPA enforcement actions.
For more information regarding the FCPA, please refer to the Department of Justice’s “Lay Person’s Guide.“
For questions about the FCPA, or if you have knowledge of an FCPA violation, please contact the experienced whistleblower attorneys at Kenney & McCafferty.