Societe Generale agree to pay $860 million Libor fine

Regarding the news that Société Générale, and its subsidiary, SGA Société Générale Acceptance N.V., have agreed to pay a total penalty of more than $860 million to resolve charges with law enforcement authorities in the US and France, including violations arising from manipulation of LIBOR, please find below a comment:

Margot Laporte, Senior Associate at Richards Kibbe & Orbe, comments: “The decision by France’s National Financial Prosecutor’s office in Paris (the Parquet National Financier or “PNF”) to enter into a coordinated anti-corruption resolution with the U.S. DOJ against Société Générale—the first coordinated resolution between the DOJ and French authorities in a foreign bribery case—represents a significant event for international enforcement and cooperation.

Historically, French authorities have not had a record of aggressive enforcement of France’s anti-corruption laws. The “Loi Sapin II,” France’s recently implemented anti-corruption law, signaled France’s move towards meaningful anti-corruption enforcement, including by expanding the extraterritorial application of its anti-corruption law.

Nonetheless, French authorities and the public have bristled at the DOJ’s enforcement of U.S. laws against large French companies. The PNF’s agreement to enter into a coordinated resolution with the DOJ against Société Générale, therefore, represents a remarkable evolution in French anti-corruption enforcement policy and demonstrates France’s determination to monitor and regulate companies operating within its jurisdiction.

Moreover, the coordination of the penalty between the DOJ and the PNF substantiates the DOJ’s recently announced policy to avoid the “piling on” of fines and penalties by multiple regulators for the same criminal conduct.

This coordinated settlement serves as a reminder to companies conducting cross-border business that U.S. and foreign regulators are no longer merely sharing evidence with one another, but increasingly are bringing coordinated enforcement actions through which they share in the criminal penalties.  Going forward, multinational companies will need to prepare strategies for developing compliance programs and responding to regulatory inquiries that anticipate and address regulatory, litigation, and reputational risks across multiple legal systems.”