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What business owners should know about the FCPA

Nearly 40 years ago, Congress passed a historic measure that changed the way in which a significant volume of international business was conducted virtually overnight. Indeed, the reverberations of this groundbreaking measure, otherwise known as the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act or FCPA, continue to be felt in today's global marketplace.

That's largely because the concerns which the FCPA was originally passed to help address -- cracking down on bribery of foreign officials by U.S. companies, creation of a level playing field for businesses, and restoration of public confidence in marketplace integrity -- are as pressing today as they were in 1977.

In today's post, the first in a series, we'll start taking a closer look at the FCPA in order to help both existing enterprises and entrepreneurs understand the scope of the law, as well as its limitations and consequences for a conviction.

What exactly is the FCPA designed to do?

The FCPA is designed to combat international corruption via accounting provisions that prohibit falsification of books/records, mandate the implementation of a system of internal controls and call for stringent record keeping/internal control requirements.

More significant for our purposes, however, it is also designed to combat international corruption via anti-bribery provisions.

What exactly do these anti-bribery provisions prohibit?

The FCPA's anti-bribery provisions the following:

  • Offers to make payments, actual payments, promises to make payments or authorizations of payments or anything of value to foreign officials as a means of influencing any act or decision undertaken in their official capacity
  • Offers to make payments, actual payments, promises to make payments or authorizations of payments or anything of value to foreign officials as a means of securing improper advantages that facilitate the securing or retaining of business

Who is included in the FCPA's anti-bribery provisions?

There are essentially three categories of entities/persons covered by the FCPA's anti-bribery provisions: issuers, domestic concerns and other parties acting while in U.S. territory.

We'll continue this discussion in future posts …

In the meantime, if you've are under investigation or have been charged with violating the FCPA, it's imperative to consider speaking with a skilled legal professional who can protect your freedom and your future as soon as possible.

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