Top FCPA enforcer to leave SEC

Kara Brockmeyer plans to depart later this month

Kara Brockmeyer

Kara Brockmeyer

The top SEC official charged with handling corporate bribery cases is to leave the agency in the latest change among the ranks of senior personnel at the regulator.

Kara Novaco Brockmeyer, chief of the enforcement division’s FCPA unit, plans to exit later this month, according to the SEC. She has since 2011 led a national team of 38 attorneys, accountants and other specialists focusing on violations of the anti-bribery and accounting provisions of the federal securities laws. Following Brockmeyer’s departure, Charles Cain, who is currently deputy chief of the FCPA unit, will serve as acting chief.

Brockmeyer founded and served as co-head of the enforcement division’s cross-border working group, a risk-based initiative focusing on US companies with substantial foreign operations, and has served as a member of the enforcement division’s co-operation committee and the enforcement advisory committee. 

During her tenure as head of the unit, the SEC brought 72 FCPA-related enforcement actions resulting in judgments and orders totaling more than $2 billion in disgorgement, prejudgment interest and penalties, the agency says in a related filing. Over that period, the SEC also expanded its use of co-operation tools – non-prosecution agreements and deferred prosecution agreements – in the FCPA area.

Brockmeyer joined the SEC in 2000 following several years in private practice. A spokesperson did not respond immediately to a request for information on Brockmeyer’s plans but her departure will add to the number of key vacancies at the agency: there are only two sitting commissioners and several offices and departments have acting leaders. Such turnover is common around the time of a change in administration.

‘Kara’s creativity and perseverance have led to truly outstanding results in the SEC’s FCPA program,’ says acting enforcement director Stephanie Avakian in a statement.

‘It has been an honor and a privilege to work with the incredibly talented and dedicated staff in the FCPA unit and throughout the division of enforcement and the SEC,’ Brockmeyer says.

She is leaving the SEC at a time of widespread uncertainty among industry professionals about the path of financial regulation in general under the Trump administration, including how laws such as the FCPA will be enforced.

The SEC and the US Department of Justice (DoJ) have in recent years stepped up the number of cases they have brought under the act. But the new administration’s anti-regulatory agenda and the absence of new leadership in certain DoJ posts means it is uncertain whether such cases will continue to be a priority for the department, or whether there will be more of a focus on bringing cases against foreign rather than US firms, Perkins Coie partner Pravin Rao, a former prosecutor, recently told Corporate Secretary (CorporateSecretary.com, 3/28). The DoJ recently extended a pilot program offering guidance to prosecutors on corporate resolutions in FCPA cases.

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