In recent years there has been a dramatic increase in the number of carbon copy prosecutions in the anti-bribery and corruption world. More and more, countries are beginning to place a much greater focus on anti-corruption measures, with many governments taking their cues from robust and respected anti-bribery policies such as the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and the UK Bribery Act 2010.

As these anti-corruption policies, and the legislation they inspire in other nations, begins to proliferate and propagate around the world, the number of so called ‘carbon copy’ prosecutions witnessed within the anti-corruption sphere has also increased markedly. Originally coined in a 2012 article by T. Markus Funk and Andrew S. Boutros at the University of Chicago Legal Forum, carbon copy prosecutions describes the trend of multiple sovereigns issuing successive, duplicative prosecutions or anti-bribery enforcement actions by following a successful initial prosecution. Essentially, carbon copy prosecutions entail a second nation filing an anti-corruption enforcement action based on the charges, guilty plea or admissions from a successful enforcement action in the original country.

These types of prosecutions have the potential to be transformative in terms of anti-corruption enforcement. Although in many respects carbon copy prosecutions are still in their infancy, it is difficult to dispute that they have already changed the face of international anti-corruption action. Former Federal prosecutor Ryan McConnell, a partner at McConnell Sovany LLP, believes that the rise in the number of successive prosecutions has been spurred on by collaborative efforts. “Pressure from OECD and foreign governments to prosecute corruption cases and increased cooperation between sovereigns has resulted in successive prosecutions,” he suggests. “It is easier to prove a defendant has violated the corruption laws once they’ve admitted to it in another jurisdiction.”

Jan-Mar 2014 Issue

Richard Summerfield