When is a rose not a rose? When it is a charitable donation not made for philanthropic purposes and violates the FCPA. This was a feature of the Eli Lilly and Company (Lilly) FCPA enforcement action brought by the SEC in 2012, involving a bribery scheme utilized by Lilly in Poland. The scheme and FCPA violations mirrored an earlier FCPA enforcement action, also brought by the SEC as a civil matter, rather than by the DOJ as a criminal matter, against another U.S. entity Schering-Plough, for making charitable donations in Poland which violated the FCPA. One of the remarkable things about both of these enforcement actions, brought almost eight years apart, was that they involved improper payments to the same Polish charitable foundation to wrongfully influence the same Polish government official to purchase products from both of these companies.

Three key takeaways:

  1. Every compliance practitioner should study both the Lilly and Schering-Plough enforcement actions.
  2. What is the purpose of the charitable entity you are making a donation to?
  3. “Document, Document, and Document” your due diligence around donors.