Two weeks ago, PointofLaw featured Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer's announcement that next year the Justice Department would release "detailed new guidance" on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. In his address however, Lanny Breuer did not specify in any detail the particular guidance to be offered. Therefore, there has been an active effort, like that made by Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), ranking member on the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, to ensure that the Justice Department provide appropriate guidance which would sufficiently aid the business community.
Senator Grassley submitted questions to the Justice Department pressing for clarification among which were the following:
• Will the guidance include the Department's interpretations of ambiguous statutory terms such as "foreign official" and "government instrumentality"?
• Will the guidance clarify when a company may be held liable for the actions of an independent subsidiary?
• Will the guidance clarify the extent to which one company may be held liable for the pre-acquisition or pre-merger conduct of another?
• Will the guidance include an enforcement safe harbor for gifts and hospitality of a de minimis value provided to foreign officials?
Additionally, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Pfizer is near an over $60 million dollar settlement to resolve investigations of FCPA violations by the company in its efforts to win business overseas. In response to these investigations, many major pharmaceutical companies are spending a great deal of time along with millions of dollars developing comprehensive compliance programs. It may be that effective FCPA guidance aimed to cure vagueness and ambiguities would be much needed relief for American businesses.