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Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell Speaks at the Launch of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Foreign Bribery Report



Thank you for that kind introduction, and thank you [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)] Secretary-General [Angel] Gurria for inviting me to be part of this important day.  I want to commend you and your team for your work in compiling this significant Foreign Bribery Report, and I am honored to be here to celebrate its release.  Together, your team and the members of the Working Group on Bribery play a vital role in the global fight against corruption.

As you all know, this year marks the twentieth anniversary of the formation of the OECD Working Group on Bribery and the fifteenth anniversary of the entry into force of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.  Since their inception, the Working Group and the Convention have played a pivotal role in the worldwide battle against bribery.  By requiring countries to criminalize bribery of foreign officials in international business transactions and creating a peer-driven monitoring mechanism to ensure the robust enforcement of those laws, the Convention has helped to bring about an international approach to rooting out a global problem.

This international approach has dramatically advanced our collective efforts to uncover, punish, and deter foreign corruption.  We in the United States are committed to continuing to work together with our Working Group partners to hold to account individuals and companies who engage in corruption, regardless of where they operate or reside.

The fight against transnational bribery is incredibly important.  As we all know, bribery creates an unlevel playing field for honest businesses and threatens good governance, sustainable development and democratic processes.  Corruption also corrodes public trust in countries both rich and poor, and inflicts particular harm on emerging economies.

And corruption can create national security concerns.  It undermines the rule of law, facilitates organized crime, empowers authoritarian rulers and can threaten the stability of entire regions.  For these reasons, fighting foreign bribery is a significant part of the mission of the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice.

The United States began its fight against transnational bribery in the late 1970s when the U.S. Congress enacted our foreign bribery statute – the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act – which is often referred to as the FCPA.  Rigorous enforcement of the FCPA is one of the Department of Justice’s core priorities. 

As the Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, I have the privilege of leading 600 talented lawyers who prosecute crimes and promote the rule of law abroad.  We have a specific group of prosecutors in our FCPA Unit in the Fraud Section who are dedicated to investigating and prosecuting foreign bribery cases.

In the United States, we are vigorously employing proactive investigative tools to expose foreign bribery.  For instance, we conduct undercover operations with confidential informants and cooperating witnesses, using body wires, recordings, and surveillance.  We have had significant success in using these tools to gather evidence in corruption cases.

The department’s commitment to the fight against foreign bribery is demonstrated by our enforcement record.  Since 2009, we have convicted more than 50 individuals in FCPA and FCPA-related cases, and resolved criminal cases against more than 50 companies with penalties and forfeiture of approximately $3 billion.  And, during this same time, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has resolved civil actions against more than 65 companies and 25 individuals.  Those cases result in total combined FCPA penalties and forfeiture by the DOJ and the SEC of approximately $4.5 billion. 

These successes are the product of the skill, hard work, and determination of prosecutors in the Criminal Division, as well as our talented colleagues at the SEC.  In addition to working with SEC attorneys, our prosecutors work in tandem with our partners at the FBI and other law enforcement agencies, and, importantly, our foreign partners, including our partners in the Working Group on Bribery.

The Working Group has been, and continues to be, a critical vehicle through which we, as an international community, work together to strengthen enforcement efforts across the globe.  Through the Working Group, we are now more effectively able to share information, refer leads to one another, and coordinate investigations against individuals and entities that seek to obtain business overseas through bribery.  All countries, though, must contribute to this international effort if we are going to meaningfully deter and root out global corruption.

The Convention’s mutual legal assistance framework – and member states’ compliance with it – is key to effective international collaboration.  The framework enables member states to share with one another important evidence in a prompt and efficient way.  The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs coordinates all international evidence gathering and extradition of international fugitives.  We stand ready to assist other countries with your requests for evidence located in the United States.  We are encouraged by the responses we have received to many of our requests for mutual legal assistance, and we hope that the trend toward increased assistance and cooperation among member states will continue.

Bribery schemes often span the globe without regard to country borders.  A coordinated response by international law enforcement is necessary to ensure that all of the culpable individuals are held to account and to deter future would-be wrongdoers. 

I’d like to discuss with you one case that shows the successful results of international cooperation.  Earlier this year, countries around the world worked together to bring to justice individuals and companies engaged in a scheme to bribe government officials in Indonesia.  Executives of Marubeni Corporation, a Japanese trading company; Alstom, a French energy company; corporate executives and others engaged in a multi-year scheme to pay millions of dollars to a high ranking member of the Indonesian Parliament and other Indonesian officials in exchange for assistance in securing a $118 million contract to provide power-related services in Indonesia.  Participants in the scheme met in the United States to discuss the bribery and paid bribes from the United States to a corrupt intermediary with U.S. bank accounts.

In the United States, we charged Marubeni Corporation for its participation in the scheme.  Marubeni pleaded guilty and paid an $88 million penalty.  We also charged four Alstom executives for their roles, three of whom have pleaded guilty and one of whom is awaiting trial.  We are actively continuing to investigate and anticipate additional law enforcement actions in the near future.

Meanwhile, the former Indonesian Parliament member was charged in Indonesia.  He was found guilty of accepting bribes and was sentenced to three years in prison.

These actions, and others that were brought against Alstom by authorities in Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the World Bank for additional corrupt conduct, were made possible by international cooperation.  These coordinated global actions are a powerful demonstration of the successes we can achieve when we work together.

This is but one example of collaboration among Working Group and international partners in combating corruption that led to significant results.  There are many other examples, and many more are in the pipeline. 

On behalf of the Department of Justice, I applaud the work of the Secretary-General, the Working Group on Bribery, and the Secretariat in launching this important Report and for the role they played in the successes detailed in the Report.  As the Report shows, together we have made significant progress in the battle against corruption – but our work is far from done.

I look forward to our continued collaboration and our continued success in rooting out and deterring the scourge that is foreign bribery.

Thank you.


Updated December 2, 2014