Cryptocurrency and Corruption: The Future of FCPA Enforcement?

The long history of FCPA enforcement in the United States has highlighted the rationale for the breadth of the prohibitions on corrupt payments to include “anything of value.” From the classic suitcase full of cash to lavish travel and entertainment to promises of employment, as anti-corruption enforcement has evolved so, too, have the form of bribes being paid to influence foreign officials. Perhaps surprisingly, however, FCPA enforcement has yet to reach into the world of cryptocurrency in any meaningful way. Yet, as cryptocurrency flourishes, it becomes increasingly likely that the potential to quickly and anonymously transfer value in this way will become a preferred method for payment of bribes. In a guest article, Brian Frey, a partner at Alston & Bird, explains how this raises significant questions about whether federal investigators, regulators and prosecutors are equipped to root out corrupt cryptocurrency payments and whether companies are properly considering the unique compliance risks associated with handling cryptocurrency. See “Virtual Currencies: Opening a New Avenue for Financial Crimes” (Mar. 17, 2021).

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