Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)

Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”), enacted to deter bribery and other corrupt practices in the conduct of international business, originally claimed jurisdiction over U.S. companies and individuals who used the mail or other instrumentalities of interstate commerce to further a bribe.  A 1998 amendment, however, expanded the FCPA’s jurisdictional reach to include, among others, “issuers” of securities listed on U.S. exchanges (including foreign companies so listed).  Thus, as businesses strategize to capitalize on the increasingly global market, those with securities issued in the United States must make sure to stay in compliance with the FCPA.  If companies like Walmart, Ralph Lauren and Tyco International weren’t doing so before, they certainly are now.

So what is the FCPA and what conduct does it proscribe? Well, the FCPA has two separate and distinct prohibitions.  First, the FCPA’s “anti-bribery provisions” prohibit the offer, promise, or payment of “anything of value” to a “foreign official” in order to “obtain or retain business.” Importantly, the FCPA covers payments to consults, agents, and any other intermediaries or representatives when the party making the payment knows, or has reason to believe, that some part of the payment will be used to bribe or influence a foreign official.

Second, the FCPA’s “books and records” provision imposes affirmative duties on issuers to maintain accurate books and a system of internal controls, and prohibits behavior intended to conceal an issuer’s lack of compliance with these duties.  Essentially, issuers must maintain books that accurately and fairly reflect their transactions and disposition of assets, and must have internal accounting controls adequate to provide reasonable assurance of the integrity of the company’s financial systems and its disclosures.

In the last few years, FCPA enforcement has been on the rise as the SEC and the Department of Justice (“DOJ”), the agencies charged with enforcing the FCPA, have
Continue Reading Continued increased enforcement of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) shift toward financial services industry