It’s a jungle out there. Penalties imposed under the Foreign Corrupt Practice Act for bribery charges proliferated like vines in 2016. In the dramatic conclusion of the Brazil-based Operation Car Wash probe, Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht-Braskem agreed to pay U.S., Brazilian and Swiss authorities $3.5 billion for paying bribes to government officials around the world. Teva, the international pharmaceutical company, was revealed to have paid bribes to Russian, Ukrainian and Mexican officials, and would have to pay nearly $500 million in penalties.
But while these penalties are eye-catching, the internal investigations that responsible corporations undertake to avoid them can be even more expensive. A thorough internal investigation includes hiring outside attorneys, accountants, experts and consultants and sending them around the globe to probe potential bad acts in a company’s foreign offices. Sometimes, the fees continue to roll in even after settlement, when companies are ordered to pay outside monitors to make sure they are still complying with their FCPA obligations. A company may easily find itself on the receiving end of a multi-million dollar bill.