Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

The United States of America passed a law to prohibit the practice of bribing foreign officials in 1977. FCPA Section 30A(a) forbids the act of corrupt offer, payment, promise to pay, or authorization of payment of money, or offer, gift, promise to give, or authorization of giving anything of value to a foreign official.

The word corrupt is used to clarify that the gift must be intended to induce and influence the recipient to misuse their official position; for instances, to obtain preferential legislation or regulations, to direct business to the payer of their client, et cetera. Besides that, FCPA also emphasized the importance of intention, which, as in 18 U.S.C. 201(b), does not require that the act to be fully consummated, or succeed in producing the desired outcome.

Foreign officials may include:

  • Government agency representatives
  • International organization representatives
  • Political party representatives
  • Political office candidates
  • Members of a royal family
  • State-owned enterprise employees
  • Official of a government-controlled entity

FCPA states that bribery may include anything of value. Besides cash, bribery might also come in forms of:

  • Excessive and unusual travel expenses
  • Expensive and luxurious gifts
  • Pattern of many “small” gifts
  • Payment for personal bills and fees unrelated to business
  • Contributions and donations to organizations or charities favored by government officials

There is no minimum value of what constitutes a bribe in FCPA as this act classifies bribery based on the corrupt and wilful intent behind a gift. The act is enforced by the Security Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ).


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