September 15, 2009 7:56 PM

LITIGATION DAILY: A Glimmer of Hope for FCPA Defendants?

Posted by Ross Todd

This story was originally published by The Am Law Litigation Daily.

The folks over at Cassin Law who produce The FCPA Blog have an interesting take on Monday's Foreign Corrupt Practices Act conviction of husband-and-wife film producers Gerald and Patricia Green. "The trial's tragic outcome shouldn't surprise anyone," writes the FCPA blogger. "There hasn't been an acquittal in an FCPA prosecution since 1991. Not one."

Indeed, this summer has seen Justice win a string of high-profile FCPA cases. The run started with the successful prosecution of handbag magnate Frederic Bourke in June. That was followed by the conviction of William Jefferson, the former Louisiana congressman who notoriously stowed $90,000 in bribe money in his freezer. The Greens' conviction by a Los Angeles jury makes them the first Hollywood couple to go down on FCPA charges.

In light of Justice's winning streak, the FCPA Blog provides a list of things that every defendant should keep in mind before going to trial:

--"Juries hate graft": Even if the evidence isn't rock-solid, the government can get the message across that the line of acceptable business behavior has been crossed.
--"There are clouds of witnesses": The government tries to bring in everyone, from those who had a hand in the bribery effort to people who heard about it at the water cooler.
--"Evidence is everywhere": Bribes leave a paper trail that's easy to find and follow.
--"Show and tell": With upgrades in technology, wearing a wire isn't quite as risky as it once was. Prosecutors will likely have audio or videotapes to use at trial.
--"Related charges a-plenty": They include conspiracy, money laundering, fraud, obstruction, and tax cheating.

The FCPA blogger acknowledges that not everyone accused of violating the FCPA is guilty. "But with no acquittals in an FCPA trial since 1991, defendants and their counsel should have their eyes wide open about their chances in court." Given the odds, we offer our own advice: Don't get charged in the first place.

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