Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)

Enacted in 1977, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) makes it illegal for U.S. citizens, U.S. companies and certain foreign companies to bribe a foreign government official in order to obtain or retain business. However, despite the law’s good intentions, the government’s recent FCPA enforcement practices have created major uncertainty for American businesses and highlighted the need for reforms. read more...

Since the FCPA was enacted, trade’s importance to the U.S. economy (as a percentage of GDP) has grown more than fifty percent, and exports of U.S. goods exceeded $2 trillion in 2012. At the same time, foreign governments have increasingly enmeshed themselves in private businesses. 

Unfortunately, the FCPA has not evolved to reflect these changes in the global economy – creating unprecedented uncertainty for American businesses selling goods and services overseas. They are now exposed to civil and criminal penalties for conduct that is, in many cases, beyond their control and knowledge.

For example, when an employee of an American company takes an employee of a company partially owned by the Chinese government to lunch or pays for his cab ride, does that constitute an FCPA violation? And what happens when a rogue employee knowingly violates a company’s internal FCPA compliance system? Should the company be held liable too?

To help address these and other questions, the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission released unprecedented joint guidance on their enforcement of the FCPA in November 2012. While this guidance was an important first step towards providing businesses with much-needed clarity and certainty, more reforms are needed. These include ensuring that U.S. companies implementing robust anti-bribery programs are not punished for the actions of rogue employees. The government should also provide a clearer definition of who constitutes a “foreign official” under the statute.  

More information about ILR’s proposals for FCPA reform can be found in the white paper Restoring Balance: Proposed Amendments to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Research

The ILR Research Review - Winter 2014

December 18, 2014 | This edition of the ILR Research Review offers valuable insights from the latest of ILR's research on perpetual prosecution, the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act (FIRREA), social media, and transnational litigation.

Federal Cases from Foreign Places: How the Supreme Court Has Limited Foreign Disputes From Flooding U.S. Courts

October 21, 2014 | This collection of essays examines the shifting legal landscape of federal claims by foreign plaintiffs in the federal courts and focuses on the most common statutes invoked by foreign plaintiffs, as well as the threshold issues of personal jurisdiction and pleading standards that govern such suits.

Additional Resources

All Results for Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)

The ILR Research Review - Winter 2014

Author: Institute for Legal Reform | December 18, 2014 | Research

This edition of the ILR Research Review offers valuable insights from the latest of ILR's research on perpetual prosecution, the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act (FIRREA), social media, and transnational litigation. Read More »

Federal Cases from Foreign Places: How the Supreme Court Has Limited Foreign Disputes From Flooding U.S. Courts

Author: George T. Conway III, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, John Bellinger, III and R. Reeves Anderson, Arnold & Porter LLP, James L. Stengel, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP | October 21, 2014 | Research

This collection of essays examines the shifting legal landscape of federal claims by foreign plaintiffs in the federal courts and focuses on the most common statutes invoked by foreign plaintiffs, as well as the threshold issues of personal jurisdiction and pleading standards that govern such suits. Read More »

In The News Today - October 7, 2014

October 07, 2014 | News and Blog

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to consider an appeal that sought to limit the scope of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) by "narrowing the law's definition of a 'foreign official.'" Read More »

In The News Today - September 22, 2014

September 22, 2014 | News and Blog

Companies that hire third parties to send unsolicited text messages can be liable for Telephone Consumer Protection Act violations, the Ninth Circuit held Friday in a published opinion reviving a proposed class action that blamed U.S. Navy contractor Campbell-Ewald Co. for recruitment messages cellphone users received. Read More »

In The News Today - August 29, 2014

August 29, 2014 | News and Blog

A Pennsylvania appellate court affirmed a judgment in favor of Ford Motor Co. and BorgWarner Corp. in a suit that failed to properly attribute employees' alleged asbestos exposure to the companies. Read More »

Exposing Corruption in the Chevron Amazon Case

August 20, 2014 | News and Blog

On March 4, 2014, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that a $9.5 billion Ecuadorian judgment against Chevron Corporation for alleged contamination was the product of fraud and racketeering activity, finding it unenforceable. Read More »

In The News Today - August 12, 2014

August 12, 2014 | News and Blog

The U.S. Supreme Court may hear a case seeking clarity on a key term in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). Read More »

In The News Today - May 19, 2014

May 19, 2014 | News and Blog

"Losing a shareholder lawsuit to a company could soon become more expensive," writes Liz Hoffman of The Wall Street Journal. Hoffman reports on the Delaware Supreme Court's recent decision to uphold, "a corporate bylaw that requires the losing party in litigation against the company to pay the winner's legal fees." Read More »

In the News - April 28, 2014

April 28, 2014 | News and Blog

The New York Times highlights the dubious BP gulf oil spill settlement claims that ILR has been highlighting for months. Read More »

In the News - April 24, 2014

April 24, 2014 | News and Blog

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox has signaled his intention to defend the state's $10 million limit on the punitive damages a judge or jury can award an individual after a district judge ruled the cap is unconstitutional. Read More »

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