Building a National Anti-Corruption Strategy

ACR Brief 8 December

Building a National Anti-Corruption Strategy

The Biden administration released the 38-page “United States Strategy to Combat Corruption” (Strategy Memo) on December 6, 2021, following its June 2021 memo that declared anti-corruption efforts core to national security. The Strategy Memo “lays out a comprehensive approach for how the United States will work domestically and internationally, with governmental and non-governmental partners, to prevent, limit, and respond to corruption and related crimes.

The Strategy Memo discusses vigorous enforcement of the FCPA and the “special emphasis on the transnational dimensions of the challenges posed by corruption…” It lays out “five pillars” of the administration’s methods for fighting corruption, many of which will be familiar to those who have been following DOJ, SEC and other government enforcers as they make the end-of-year conference rounds. They include:

  • modernizing, coordinating, and resourcing U.S. government efforts to fight corruption;
  • curbing illicit finance;
  • holding corrupt actors accountable;
  • preserving and strengthening the multilateral anti-corruption architecture; and
  • improving diplomatic engagement and leveraging foreign assistance resources to advance policy goals.

A focus on international coordination and cooperation, topics we have covered extensively, runs through the pillars and the lines of effort the Strategy Memo identifies to combat corruption. The Strategy Memo stresses “preserving and strengthening the multilateral anti-corruption architecture,” which includes “redoubling our effort in multilateral fora” and expanding and engaging with various international groups and initiatives. One example of coordination in an FCPA action is the massive Airbus case, which the head of France’s PNF described as the high watermark for international anti-corruption coordination at the American Conference Institute’s FCPA conference held last week in National Harbor, Maryland. Our series on Airbus is here, and we’ll be covering the conference highlights and takeaways in next week’s issue.

Stemming the illicit flow of money also underpins the strategy, and the Strategy Memo indicates the Biden administration will make efforts towards legislative reform to combat kleptocracy, finalizing beneficial ownership regulations, enhancing AML enforcement, and it will be issuing new reporting regulations regarding real estate transactions. We have analysis of the beneficial ownership provisions contained in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), including their effect in Latin America.

With this new strategy from the White House and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco’s memorandum outlining changes in DOJ corporate enforcement policies (analysis here), it looks like the sands are shifting in the fight against corruption. Let us know your thoughts on these policy developments, and how they may play into your clients’ compliance programs.