Friday, November 20, 2009

The Compendium

Earlier this week, Trace International Inc. (a leading non-profit membership association focused on anti-bribery compliance) released its Compendium – a fully searchable (and free) online data-base of all FCPA enforcement actions – as well as anti-bribery enforcement actions and investigations in other signatory countries to the OECD anti-bribery convention. (see here).

As noted in the past, there is little substantive FCPA case law.

Thus FCPA enforcement actions serve (unfortunately) as de facto case law and FCPA practitioners are often left to read the “tea leaves” from the enforcement actions (at the urging the enforcement agencies) as to legal theories, etc.

As they say, "it is what it is."

In any event, after spending some time “in” the Compendium, I have that “kid in the candy store” type of feeling.

Interested in 2008 enforcement actions, brought by the DOJ, involving Chinese officials, that resulted in a deferred prosecution agreement? The answer requires only a few clicks.

Interested in 2007 enforcement actions, brought by the SEC, charging books and records violations, resulting in disgorgement? The answer requires only a few clicks.

Interested in all enforcement actions concerning business conduct in Burkina Faso … well, there is no such an action, but you can bet that if there is, it will be in the Compendium.

The Compendium is a treasure trove of information and will be of great use to FCPA practitioners and scholars (both academics and law students) and any one else interested in FCPA developments.

I have read just about every piece of FCPA scholarship published and one thing continually amazes me. That is the frequency in which an author states a position without ever discussing or even footnoting an enforcement action that is seemingly in direct conflict with the position stated. Granted there is little FCPA case law, but those writing in the FCPA area should be aware of how, and under what circumstances, the statute is actually enforced even if such enforcement do not result in case law. The end result is that many FCPA articles have the "authority of scholarship," yet contain some rather basic errors as to how the FCPA is enforced, against whom it is enforced, and under what factual circumstances it is enforced.

The enforcement actions have never been hard to find (they are on the DOJ and SEC website, there is the Shearman & Sterling FCPA Digest (see here) and Foley & Lardner's FCPA website (see here) among other sources).

And now there is the grand-daddy of them all - the fully searchable Compendium.

Happy searching.

1 comment:

  1. But note that the underlying documents come at a price. From what I understand, general information about the enforcement action is freely searchable, but only members can access the official documents related to the action. The membership fee is $15,000 annually, though they are considering a compendium-only fee . . .