Debevoise & Plimpton, where Mukasey is a partner, filed lobbying registration papers on his behalf this month, according to Senate records. The registration is for the Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform and is effective back to March 3. It covers possible FCPA amendments and other issues “related to criminal law and policies affecting U.S. corporations.”
The Chamber has become increasingly critical of the FCPA in recent months. It argues that the law, which allows the U.S. government to seek charges against corporations and individuals for bribes paid to local officials in other countries, is not working well and could be making U.S. companies less competitive.
In October, the Chamber released a policy paper proposing several specific changes to the law. The ideas included adding a “compliance defense,” so that a company could not be held criminally liable when an employee circumvents reasonable internal procedures. Lawmakers haven’t acted on the proposals yet, though the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the issue in November.
When the Chamber released its proposals, Mukasey attended its annual legal summit and moderated a panel discussion on the FCPA. He noted the sharp rise in the Justice Department’s enforcement of the law during the past decade. “The expansion in prosecutions and investigations of course has brought a great deal of anxiety to companies in the United States,” he said, according to video of the panel.
Harold Kim, senior vice president at the Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform, said he’s pleased with Mukasey’s hiring. “He brings a wealth of experience on these matters given his past positions as attorney general of the United States as well as chief judge of the Southern District of New York,” Kim said in an interview. “I think he’ll be a good advocate as part of our overall efforts to secure some more clarity and certainty with respect to the current statute.”
Mukasey (picture above as attorney general) has not previously registered as a lobbyist, according to a search of Senate records, but he appeared before lawmakers frequently as attorney general. Through a spokeswoman, he declined to comment today.
Debevoise & Plimpton has an active FCPA practice. Most prominently, the firm represented the audit committee of Siemens AG, conducting an internal investigation from 2006 to 2008. Siemens agreed to pay a record $1.34 billion fine in the case.
National Law Journal photo by Diego M. Radzinschi. Updated at 1:33 p.m. with Mukasey's no comment.