In the United States, it is a rare day when newspaper headlines do not announce criminal or regulatory investigations or prosecutions of major financial institutions and other corporations. Foreign corruption. Healthcare, consumer and environmental fraud. Tax evasion. Price fixing. Manipulation of benchmark interest rates and foreign exchange trading. Export controls and other trade sanctions. US and non-US corporations alike have faced increasing scrutiny by US authorities for several years, and their conduct, when deemed to run afoul of the law, continues to be punished severely by ever-increasing, record-breaking fines and the prosecution of corporate employees. And while in the past many corporate criminal investigations were resolved through deferred or non-prosecution agreements, the US Department of Justice has increasingly sought and obtained guilty pleas from corporate defendants. While the new presidential administration in 2017 brought uncertainty about certain enforcement priorities, there have been few signs – even a year and a half into the new administration – of any significant departure from the trend towards more enforcement and harsher penalties.
This trend has by no means been limited to the United States; while the US government continues to lead the movement to globalise the prosecution of corporations, a number of non-US authorities appear determined to adopt the US model. Parallel corporate investigations in several countries increasingly compound the problems for companies, as conflicting statutes, regulations and rules of procedure and evidence make the path to compliance a treacherous one. What is more, government authorities forge their own prosecutorial alliances and share evidence, further complicating a company's defence. These trends show no sign of abating.
As a result, corporate counsel around the world are increasingly called upon to advise their clients on the implications of criminal and regulatory investigations outside their own jurisdictions. This can be a daunting task, as the practice of criminal law – particularly corporate criminal law – is notorious for following unwritten rules and practices that cannot be gleaned from a simple review of a country's criminal code. And while nothing can replace the considered advice of an expert local practitioner, a comprehensive review of the corporate investigation practices around the world will find a wide and grateful readership.
The authors who have contributed to this volume are acknowledged experts in the field of corporate investigations and leaders of the bars of their respective countries. We have attempted to distil their wisdom, experience and insight around the most common questions and concerns that corporate counsel face in guiding their clients through criminal or regulatory investigations. Under what circumstances can the corporate entity itself be charged with a crime? What are the possible penalties? Under what circumstances should a corporation voluntarily self-report potential misconduct on the part of its employees? Is it a realistic option for a corporation to defend itself at trial against a government agency? And how does a corporation manage the delicate interactions with employees whose conduct is at issue? The International Investigations Review answers these questions and many more and will serve as an indispensable guide when your clients face criminal or regulatory scrutiny in a country other than your own. And while it will not qualify you to practise criminal law in a foreign country, it will highlight the major issues and critical characteristics of a given country's legal system and will serve as an invaluable aid in engaging, advising and directing local counsel in that jurisdiction. We are proud that, in its eighth edition, this publication covers 23 jurisdictions.
This volume is the product of exceptional collaboration. I wish to commend and thank our publisher and all the contributors for their extraordinary gift of time and thought. The subject matter is broad and the issues raised are deep, and a concise synthesis of a country's legal framework and practice was challenging in each case.
Sullivan & Cromwell LLP