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The FBI over the last five years has stepped up its efforts to root out foreign corruption and crack down on money laundering and bribes to overseas governments, reports The Wall Street Journal.
The unit was created in 2015 to identify violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a U.S. law that makes it illegal to bribe foreign officials, and scored 34 convictions in cases from 2016 until 2018, according to Business Insider. A Miami unit created in 2019 has already brought cases that have resulted in billions of dollars in settlements.
”We were perpetually flying down to South America; individuals were transiting through the Miami area,” Leslie Backschies, who was head of the FBI’s international corruption team in Los Angeles before leading the national team, told the Journal.
”We were seeing assets being procured with illicit proceeds. We were just seeing a lot of bad activity,” she said. ”And everyone was always having to go to Miami to conduct interviews.” So, the Miami unit was created, starting operations in March 2019.
The Working Group on Bribery of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, an international antibribery watchdog, in November commended the group for its work.
”Up to July 2019, the United States has brought 156 cases under the FCPA or related offenses, resulting in the conviction or sanctioning of 115 natural persons and 174 legal persons for foreign bribery and related offences,” the OECD said in its report. ”This outstanding achievement results from a combination of enhanced expertise and resources to investigate and prosecute foreign bribery, the enforcement of a broad range of offenses in foreign bribery cases, the effective use of non-trial resolution mechanisms, and the development of published policies to incentivize companies’ cooperation with law enforcement agencies.”
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