On April 14, 2022, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued an advisory focusing on detecting kleptocrats (i.e., government officials who appropriate national resources for personal gain) and the proceeds of foreign public corruption and preventing them from entering the U.S. financial system. This guidance is the latest in a series of advisories FinCEN has issued focusing on Russian kleptocracy, and is part of a broader strategic initiative among key U.S. and global law enforcement and regulatory agencies focusing on corruption and money laundering as critical national security risks. In particular, the advisory highlights the enhanced focus of U.S. enforcement resources on the attempts of Russian oligarchs to evade sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

U.S. law enforcement and regulatory agencies have high expectations as to the compliance efforts U.S. companies will adopt to meet this moment. Enforcement against companies and individuals involved in missteps is likely to be aggressive and robustly resourced. Indeed, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on April 6, 2022, in connection with the unsealing of an indictment of a Russian oligarch charged with U.S. sanctions violations, that it will “work relentlessly to counter Russian aggression, including by enforcing U.S. sanctions law.”
Continue Reading As Russia Sanctions Mount, FinCEN Issues Advisory on Kleptocracy and Foreign Public Corruption

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently issued a new policy statement expanding its criminal referral policy. While the FTC’s authority is limited to civil enforcement, the agency aims to enhance its efforts to address misconduct the FTC uncovers that may trigger criminal sanctions for companies and individuals and make referrals to law enforcement when appropriate. The agency aims to deter potential criminal activity in both its consumer protection and competition arms.

In announcing its new policy statement, the FTC pointed to its existing efforts regarding criminal referrals, including 36 referrals this year to prosecutors from the FTC’s Criminal Liaison Unit and 840 formal requests for cooperation from criminal law enforcement partners over the past five years. The FTC reported that prosecutors relied on FTC information and support to charge 228 new defendants and obtained 283 new pleas or convictions over a five-year period.

On a going forward basis, the FTC has signaled that it will continue to prioritize the referral of potential criminal conduct and take steps to facilitate uptake of those cases by appropriate authorities. Specifically, the FTC pointed to four practices to forward the goals of the new policy statement:

  • Developing guidelines to ensure criminal law violations — particularly by major corporations and their executives — are identified by staff and promptly referred to criminal law enforcement agencies;
  • Convening regular meetings with federal, state, and local criminal authorities to facilitate coordination with FTC and law enforcement;
  • Offering further trainings for all law enforcement regarding the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel database system, which offers access to, and analysis of, millions of consumer complaints and fraud allegations submitted to the FTC; and
  • Publicly reporting the agency’s criminal referral efforts at regular intervals to highlight criminal prosecutions. The FTC will begin issuing regular public reports on its work detailing the number of referrals, the general nature of the alleged conduct involved, and, when appropriate, more detailed information concerning criminal enforcement actions that stem from Commission actions and investigations.


Continue Reading FTC Issues Policy Statement Aimed at Increasing Criminal Referrals for Corporations & Executives

During a speech last week to a group of white collar defense attorneys, John Carlin, a senior official at the Department of Justice (DOJ) confirmed what many in the white collar and corporate compliance space have been preparing for since January: the DOJ is devoting a “surge” of resources to ramp up its white collar enforcement efforts. According to a report by The Wall Street Journal*, Carlin listed several agency actions that are either in the works or already underway:

  • Embedding Federal Bureau of Investigation agents within the DOJ, including a new “squad” of dedicated agents in the agency’s fraud section, to focus on investigations into foreign bribery, market manipulation, and healthcare fraud cases;
  • Enhancing efforts to incentivize companies to develop compliance programs to preemptively prevent legal violations by employees;
  • Developing new tools, including the use of data analytics, to identify corporate wrongdoing (and encouraging corporations to do the same); and
  • More strictly enforcing the terms of deferred- and non-prosecution agreements.

Although the increased focus on enforcement should not come as a surprise to careful (or even casual) observers, the DOJ’s emphasis on preemptive compliance suggests the agency will be receptive to organizations who are proactively improving their compliance practices.

Companies should consider reviewing their compliance policies and implementing certain best practices to minimize the risk of being swept up in any future enforcement pushes:

Continue Reading Preparing for DOJ’s White Collar Enforcement “Surge”: Five Compliance Practices for Companies to Shore Up Now

On July 19, 2021, CME Group Inc. (the CME), the parent company of derivatives exchanges including the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and New York Mercantile Exchange, issued a Market Regulation Advisory Notice amending prior guidance on prohibited disruptive trading practices. The CME’s amended Advisory Notice RA2107-5 (Advisory Notice), took effect on August 2, 2021, and impacts

Ben Purser, chief risk officer for mortgage lender, Roundpoint Mortgage Servicing Corporation, and Barak Cohen, partner in Perkins Coie’s White Collar & Investigations practice and lead for the firm’s Commercial Litigation in Washington, D.C., discuss the challenges of legal compliance and risk in an industry that has been directly affected by two global financial crises

Perkins Coie’s award-winning White Collar & Investigations practice has teamed up with the ABA’s Global Anti-Corruption Committee to launch a podcast series as an extension of our White Collar Briefly blog.

Our first five episodes, linked below, feature fascinating, candid conversations with a variety of special guests, including:

  • American “book of the year” author, editor, screenplay writer and publisher Dave Eggers
  • Joel Esquenazi (defendant in the high-profile US v. Esquenazi FCPA case)
  • Molson Coors’ Global Ethics & Compliance Chief Caroline McMichen
  • Chicago-based U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall
  • University of Colorado COO (and former GC) Patrick O’Rourke
  • Avanos Medical Deputy GC Ross Mansbach

Note that all episodes are available on Spotify, Google Podcast, and Apple Podcast. Additionally, you can visit our blog and subscribe to receive each new podcast, including the highly-anticipated Dave Eggers podcast, in your inbox.
Continue Reading Introducing the White Collar Briefly Podcast

The U.S. Department of Justice has updated its guidance on corporate compliance programs. In its update, the DOJ offers practitioners further insight on how the DOJ evaluates compliance programs by refining key terms and providing more context. The DOJ has made clear that compliance should not be thought of as a static exercise. Instead, any

A new $2 million SBA safe harbor for PPP loans appears to create a wide umbrella that substantially reduces the risk that adverse consequences will rain down and soak companies with loans in this category. Perkins Coie attorneys examine the May 13 guidance and say companies will continue to benefit from conducting a PPP “necessity”

Companies seeking PPP loans must concurrently navigate the potential minefield of public scrutiny and government enforcement, requiring a heightened level of planning and procedures.

An adequate compliance program is a must to avoid ramped-up enforcement efforts and to minimize legal and reputational risks.

Click here to read the full article published by Bloomberg Law.

On April 14, 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice made a long-awaited move towards enhanced transparency into the corporate compliance monitorship selection process in launching a new webpage that lists the names of all independent compliance monitors for the Fraud Section’s thirteen active monitorships.  Seven of the active monitorships are associated with the FCPA Unit,