New AG Sessions Promises to Enforce FCPA and Hold Individuals Accountable

Alerts / February 9, 2017

Following a record year for Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) enforcement and policy declarations affecting corporate actors, recent statements by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions confirms that the new administration will continue to sharply focus on prosecuting FCPA violations. In answers given in during his nomination hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in January, AG Sessions stated: “as Attorney General, I will enforce all federal laws, including the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the International Bribery Act of 1998.”[1] AG Sessions also spoke about pursuing actions against individuals for misconduct, noting that if confirmed he would enforce the law against financial institutions and executives “[n]o matter how wealthy or well-connected.”[2] Holding individuals accountable is critical to the government’s enforcement and prosecution agenda, both in order to deter misconduct and to encourage self-reporting by corporations. 

In 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) recovered over $2 billion in penalties against individuals and corporations for FCPA violations across the globe. There were a number of firsts, including the first settlement with a hedge fund (Och Ziff), the largest settlement with a pharmaceutical company and the SEC’s first Deferred Prosecution Agreement with an individual. The implementation of the FCPA Pilot Program by the DOJ further demonstrated the government’s continued focus on holding individuals accountable.

Commentators will continue to analyze President Trump’s statements and Cabinet nominees, seeking insight into the administration’s priorities. It is unclear whether the FCPA Pilot Program will be extended beyond its first year, but there is no indication that the enforcement will abate. Corporations and officers should expect more FCPA actions in 2017.

If you have any questions about this alert, please contact John J. Carney at or 212.589.4255, or any member of BakerHostetler’s White Collar Defense and Corporate Investigations team.

Authorship credit: John J. Carney and Margaret E. Hirce

[1] Questions from Senator Whitehouse, Nomination of Jeff Sessions to be Attorney General of the United States: Questions for the Record (submitted Jan. 17, 2017),
[2] Questions from Senator Hirono, Nomination of Jeff Sessions to be Attorney General of the United States: Questions for the Record (submitted Jan. 17, 2017),