TRACE's latest Global Enforcement Report is out, quantifying and analysing cross-border bribery investigations and enforcement actions as of 31 December 2018. The familiar trends (identified in our post from last year) show no signs of abating but some interesting new trends have also emerged. 

Business as usual in the US 

  • The US continues to top the tables for the number of open investigations into bribery of foreign officials (107) and enforcement actions (25), with the latter in 2018 approaching the record-setting volume of 2016.
  • A third of on-going investigations in the US are against non-US companies or individuals, most of which are in the UK or Switzerland. 5% are against companies or individuals in Asia Pacific. With the DOJ's China Initiative seeking to "identify  Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) cases involving Chinese companies that compete with American businesses", this percentage could grow. 
  • Unsurprisingly, given the nature of the risks they face, the financial services, extractive,manufacturing, communications and construction industries all appear in the top five sectors under investigation in the US for both foreign and domestic bribery. Financial services, for the second year running, tops the list. Perhaps more unexpected is the appearance of entertainment and film in the top five (joint fifth alongside engineering and construction), followed closely by technology and software—possibly indicating increasing risk in sectors outside the traditional areas of focus.

Enforcement continues to grow in Europe 

  • Investigations by European authorities into bribery of foreign officials have increased (157), representing almost half of the worldwide total. The UK accounts for 30% of the European total (47). 
  • One trend that receives little coverage in the Report is the continued and increasing levels of cross-border co-ordination between authorities - including within Europe. This was demonstrated most recently in the fine imposed on Hempel A/S by the Danish and German authorities in relation to allegations of bribery in Europe and Asia.

Beyond Europe and the US: domestic bribery remains a focus 

  • Investigations into bribery of domestic officials remain high on the agenda in Asia Pacific, Africa and Latin America. Brazil is conducting the most investigations (25), followed by India (16) and China (13). China leads the way with the number of enforcement actions (10).

The full TRACE Report is available here.