Boies Schiller Flexner partner Scott Wilson was quoted in the Anti-Corruption Report in an article on a recent settlement resolving the SEC’s investigation of Telefônica Brasil under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Telefônica’s $4.125 million settlement resolved claims against the company under the accounting provisions of the FCPA for providing Confederations Cup and World Cup tickets and event hospitality to scores of public officials in Brazil in 2013 and 2014.
Wilson told the publication that, according to the SEC’s order, tickets were distributed to Brazilian officials not by executives or salespeople, but by a specialized function in the company in charge of interacting with public officials. “Companies should consider conducting specialized training for government relations staff and applying an extra level of scrutiny to their travel and entertainment expenses,” Wilson was quoted as saying. “Regulators are likely to view this as low-hanging fruit in terms of operating a robust compliance program.”
Wilson noted that one risk of long-tailed government investigations is that past conduct is judged against the backdrop of today’s business norms, which “evolve over time, and perhaps nowhere more dramatically than in Brazil over the period between when the conduct described in the Order occurred and today,” a period that saw “a sharp rise in sensitivity to compliance risk in the Brazilian corporate community.”