Five Compliance Lessons Private Fund Managers Can Glean From Och-Ziff’s FCPA Settlement

Private fund managers should pay attention to Och-Ziff’s recent settlements with both the SEC and DOJ for violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). Since the SEC launched a unit dedicated to enforcing compliance with the FCPA in 2010, many in the industry have speculated that it was only a matter of time until private funds became the focus of the SEC from an FCPA perspective. See “Private Equity FCPA Enforcement: High Risk or Hype?” (Feb. 19, 2015); and “The SEC’s Investigation of FCPA Violations and Sovereign Wealth Funds – Implications for Hedge Funds" (Feb. 3, 2011). Although its initial interest in FCPA compliance by private funds centered on a manager’s dealings with sovereign wealth funds, as the Och-Ziff settlements demonstrate, the SEC has expanded its review to cover investment transactions, particularly those conducted in high-risk jurisdictions. This change of focus has likely left some hedge funds, private equity firms, banks and other financial firms unprepared and potentially exposed from an anti-corruption perspective, as these institutions have historically focused the majority of their compliance resources related to foreign activities on anti-money laundering and sanctions programs. The details of the case, along with the terms of the company’s settlement, offer five key compliance lessons for firms in this industry. For details on the facts underlying the case and the terms of the settlement see our companion article “Recent SEC and DOJ Settlements With Och-Ziff and Two Executives Underscore FCPA Compliance Risks to Private Fund Managers” (Oct. 27, 2016).

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