ULG's Language Services Blog

4 Ways Translation Lowers Your Risk of an FCPA Fine

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) enacted in 1977 to make it unlawful to pay foreign governments to secure or retain business, has been getting a lot of attention since the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) dramatically increased corporate prosecution and investigations into corrupt business practices.

In fact, in 2016, the DOJ more than doubled its FCPA Enforcement unit while the FBI foreign corruption program more than tripled agents focused on overseas bribery. 27 organization paid $2.48 billion to resolve

FCPA cases, making it the biggest enforcement year in history.

The DOJ's Hallmarks of an Effective FCPA Compliance Program require translation and cultural appropriateness, stating that "if a company has a large employee base that is not fluent in English, documents [such as code of conduct and company policy] must be translated into the native language of those employees."

What's the bottom line? Your organization must have an effective anti-corruption policy and documentation to avoid FCPA investigations and steep fines. And partnering with an experienced language services provider to ensure those policies are clear to all employees is key. Here's why:


Your code of conduct and anti-corruption policy must be clear to all employees and affiliates. 


The first, most basic step toward ensuring compliance is to develop a clear code of conduct. Your organization may have the best of intentions. But that means nothing until those intentions are written in a clear code of conduct supported by appropriate policies and procedures that are communicated effectively to all employees.


Translation is mandatory.


That includes, of course, employees who don't speak English fluently or as a first language. The DOJ mandates companies to translate company policies, code of conduct and similar compliance-related materials into the native language of employees who are not fluent in English.

Translating this content increases the likelihood of employee understanding. It also demonstrates that your company values compliance. As Bob Conlin, president and CEO of NAVEX Global, explained to Law.com:

“Compliance can never truly be realized unless the audience understands and accepts the risks and the expected behaviors. Without local language translations, compliance initiatives such as online training and hotline report intake risk being seen as a ‘check the box’ exercise if employees believe their organization does not respect them enough to convey important information in their first language.”





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Localization of training programs improves employee understanding.


Training and education is another hallmark of a successful compliance program, according to the DOJ FCPA resource guide which states that both the “DOJ and SEC will evaluate whether a company has taken steps to ensure that relevant policies and procedures have been communicated throughout the organization, including through periodic training and certification for all directors, officers, relevant employees, and, where appropriate, agents and business partners."

But it's not enough to merely provide training. Your compliance education program must be understandable and culturally relevant for all participants. At VIA, one of our specialties is translating and localizing global eLearning solutions. Trust us to ensure your FCPA compliance training is meaningful and relevant for a multicultural audience.



An effective FCPA compliance translation program can keep violations out of the courtroom.


If a violation does occur, an effective translation program can help your organization avoid prosecution in two different ways. First, translating policies and training materials demonstrates that your company acted in good faith to prevent violations.

For example, the FCPA Compliance Report describes a situation from the DOJ's FCPA guidance that contrasted two hypothetical foreign acquisitions. The first company only offered policies and training to international personnel in English. In this case, the DOJ would likely prosecute. Meanwhile, the guidance observes, organizations that educate new employees by using culturally relevant, local language training have avoided prosecution in the past.

Second, translating documents for cross-border litigation can earn "cooperation credit" in an investigation. According to Law.com, this kept AstraZeneca out of court during an SEC investigation.


VIA Can Help.


Of course, when it comes to eDiscovery, the sheer volume of documents is often intimidating. The amount of material can be an obstacle to translation. However, it doesn't have to be. Learn how ULG combines customized, effective machine translation with specialized, experienced legal linguists for efficient and effective cross-border eDiscovery and litigation translation.

Need efficient, accurate legal and compliance translation? ULG saves you time and money with an efficient, award-winning project management process. And our legal and compliance translators are specialists in their fields. Does that sound good to you? Then give us a call at 1.855.786.4833.


Compliance, Compliance translation, FCPA, Legal Translation


Topics: Translation, Service