Thierry Olivier Desmet

Thierry Olivier Desmet, who describes himself on his Linkedin profile as a “dedicated public servant”, is an assistant director in the SEC’s FCPA unit, based out of the Miami regional office.

A native French speaker and able to work in Spanish, Desmet comes from Brussels, Belgium, where he was born and raised. The Belgian obtained his law degree at the University of Miami School of Law in 1998, and immediately went into private practice, starting as a litigation associate at Zuckerman Spaeder.

Spending four years at the firm, Desmet worked on securities and white-collar crime defence cases.

It was at Zuckerman, while working under then-partner Michael Pasano, that he first experienced a foreign bribery case while representing Kansas City businessman Robert Richard King, who was accused of conspiring to pay bribes to Costa Rican officials for land concessions. King was ultimately sentenced to 30 months in prison.

In 2002, Desmet went into government with the SEC, and has worked his way up the ranks since. Starting as a senior counsel, he rose to branch chief in 2006, before being promoted to his current position in 2010.

As a senior member of the FCPA unit, Desmet also serves as member of the US delegation to the OECD – an organisation that has long been advocating for strong and consistent foreign bribery enforcement around the world. He served as a lead examiner for a phase Phase III review of Canada’s enforcement of the OECD's Anti-Bbribery Convention.

In his time with the FCPA unit, Desmet has worked on several notable foreign bribery cases, most recently the US$205 million settlement in October 2016 between Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer and the DOJ, the SEC and Brazilian authorities.

He was also part of a team that brought an FCPA case against Japanese conglomerate Hitachi, which agreed in 2015 to pay US$19 million to settle bribery allegations involving its operations in South Africa.

During his career, Desmet has written several articles, including one in 1999 that looked at how more could be done to prevent corporate espionage. He lists traveling, tennis and history as interests.

Unlock unlimited access to all Global Investigations Review content