Foreign Corrupt Practices Act und zunehmende Klageverfahren

(Reuters Legal) – Increased enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act is leading to a sharp rise in related shareholder suits against U.S. public companies, a Reuters Legal analysis shows.

Over the past four years, the Justice Department has filed 95 enforcement actions for alleged violations of the FCPA, which bars the companies from bribing foreign officials or executives at companies owned by foreign governments — compared to 23 such actions in the prior four years. More than 240 federal criminal or civil investigations related to potential FCPA violations are under way, government reports indicate.

Investigations — which have netted the government billions of dollars in penalties — have been a boon to a growing segment of the plaintiffs’ bar that sues companies under scrutiny for alleged overseas bribery. Since the beginning of this year alone, plaintiffs’ lawyers have filed 24 shareholder suits against companies that have disclosed FCPA investigations, according to the Reuters Legal analysis of Westlaw data. In recent years, the average has been about eight such lawsuits a year. The cases are mix of class actions and derivative suits.

Westlaw, a Thomson Reuters business, is an online research service that includes thousands of databases of judicial rulings, lawsuits and other legal information.

None of the 24 shareholder suits has yet reached the motion-to-dismiss stage. But history suggests that plaintiffs collect in a majority of such suits: A review of these cases filed in the prior four years tuned up 37, of which 26 resulted in the company’s paying a settlement.

Companies contending with anti-bribery investigations are ripe for shareholder suits because such investigations are generally considered “material events” of the sort that public companies must disclose to investors — and are often bad news for the stock ...

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