Yesterday the 2019 FCPA and Anti-Bribery Alert (the Alert) was released by the law firm of Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP. Beginning in 2008, it was one of the pioneering annual Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) reviews by prestigious law firms practicing in this area. Before I take a dive into this year’s Alert, I want to honor another pioneer that we lost yesterday – Dorothy Catherine Fontana, or as you may know her under her professional name D.C. Fontana. Fontana was one of the mainstays of the Star Trek oeuvre, literally from when the franchise was but a gleam in the eye of Gene Roddenberry right up through the present time.
She began as Roddenberry’s secretary and became one of the key screenwriters for the series up to this decade. According to her obituary in the Hollywood Reporter, “A trailblazer for female writers in sci-fi television, Fontana crafted numerous stories for the original Star Trek TV series, (TOS) including 1967’s “Journey to Babel,” which introduced Spock’s father Sarek and mother Amanda. The episode was credited with allowing audiences to see Star Trek’s characters as more than just their jobs but as actual people.” She stayed with Roddenberry after TOS was cancelled and helped to produce the Animated Series (TAS) writing the script for the classic TAS episode “Yesteryear,” in which Spock travels back in time to rescue a younger version of himself. She continued to work with Roddenberry and helped to bring Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG); co-writing the series premier “Encounter at Farpoint,” the two-part pilot that introduced the world to Patrick Stewart’s Captain Picard and earned a Hugo nomination.
I was also fascinated with her screen credit name, D.C. Fontana. She used that name, rather than Dorothy Catherine, to avoid the discrimination against female screenwriters in the 1960s. She overcame this discrimination to win multiple screen writing awards. Perhaps the final word on her should go to William Shatner, AKA Captain Kirk, who tweeted, “She was a pioneer. Her work will continue to influence for generations to come.”
Today I begin a five-part Compliance Podcast Network series about the Alert. Each day, I will release an episode featuring one of the contributors to the Alert. Today, I begin with the person who generated the Alert idea, co-executive editor Kevin Abikoff, who wanted to provide firm clients and practitioners with an annual analysis of FCPA enforcement trends. This concept was later expanded to include the full international scope of anti-corruption investigations and enforcement, including countries such as the UK, Brazil and France.
One of the more intriguing items in each Alert is the tribute to an entertainer who passed on in the past year. A key song from that person is featured to introduce the theme of each year’s Alert. This year that tradition is continued with a tribute to Steve Cash of the Ozark Mountain Daredevils and their 1973 hit If You Want to Get to Heaven. Abikoff said it was to remind compliance professionals that sometimes you must “Raise a little hell” if you want to get things done. Certainly apropos for some of the key FCPA enforcement actions from 2019.
Thursday brings co-executive editor Laura Perkins to discuss FCPA developments. One of the key themes for Perkins was the embrace of the Trump Justice Department of the prior administrations’ initiatives around FCPA enforcement and the continued quest to provide a transparent road map to cooperation credit for those companies which uncover a FCPA violation and voluntarily self-disclose. Some of the key enforcement actions Perkins identified were the Walmart Inc. matter, Fresenius Medical Care AG & Co. KGaA and Cognizant Technology Solutions Corporation. She also discussed the policy announcement from the Department of Justice (DOJ) this past year and highlighted the Guidance as a key resource for the compliance practitioner.
On Friday, I speak with Bryan Sillaman, Managing Partner of the firm’s Paris office. He discusses the highlights of the enforcement year in France. There was a first decision on compliance programs from the French sanctions commission, the L’Agence Française Anticorruption (AFA). We also discuss the impact of the French Blocking Statute and how it may come into play for DOJ directed corporate internal investigations. Finally, we consider the development of the French Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) and how that was a big development under French law.
Next week, on Monday, I have Michael DeBernardis, a podcast favorite, to discuss developments over the past year from multilateral development banks. We consider the role of multilateral development banks in the fight against bribery and corruption and some of the key enforcement actions reported by the World Bank. We conclude with some key lessons for the compliance practitioner.
Our fifth and final podcast is with Salim Saud, Partner at Saud Advogados, in cooperation with Hughes Hubbard & Reed, on developments in anti-bribery enforcement from Brazil from over the past year. Some of the highlights include: What is the key role the Comptroller General of the Union (CGU) has taken over the past year? How is the CGU currently assessing compliance programs? What were some of the setbacks in Brazil over the year? How can a company obtain a Leniency Agreement? What are some key lessons for the compliance practitioner?
Each podcast only highlights the deep dive the Alert takes. It really takes a deep dive to analyze what all these enforcement actions, policy announcements and guidance portend for the compliance professional. It gives you actionable items you can take away for not only your corporate compliance program but also in discussing current enforcement actions with your senior management and Board of Directors.
While the Hughes Hubbard & Reed FCPA and Anti-Bribery Alert was pioneering when it premiered, it was another trait in common with Dorothy Fontana. It is sustained excellence. Fontana was contributing scripts for Star Trek as recently as a few years ago. She kept up the great work she started on TOS. The Alert continues the firms sustained excellence in the area of FCPA and compliance work.
Live Long and Prosper.
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© Thomas R. Fox, 2019