Maintenance. We are currently updating the site. Please check back shortly
Members login
  • TrustLaw
  • Members Portal
Subscribe

U.S. business seeks more clarity on foreign bribery law

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Wed, 20 Feb 2013 12:44 AM
Author: Reuters
cor-gov
Tweet Recommend Google + LinkedIn Bookmark Email Print
Leave us a comment

 (Adds DOJ statement)

   By Aruna Viswanatha

   WASHINGTON, Feb 19 (Reuters) - U.S. business groups on Tuesday renewed their campaign to amend an anti-foreign bribery law, suggesting authorities should give companies additional defenses against criminal charges.

   The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and others have complained the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a 1970s-era law that bars U.S. companies and others from paying bribes to officials of foreign governments in exchange for business, is ambiguous.

   So far they have unsuccessfully lobbied Congress to amend it.

   In November the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission released new information about how they enforce the law. 

   On Tuesday the groups said that guidance addressed "many, but not all" business concerns, but they also called for  additional provisions that would allow companies to escape criminal liability for the misconduct of individual employees if they already have strong safeguards and internal compliance systems in place.

   "Such assurance should be provided through legislative reform of the FCPA," the Chamber, the American Bankers Association, the National Association of Manufacturers and two dozen others said in a letter to the federal regulators.

   A Justice Department spokesman on Tuesday said the department appreciated the group's input and would "welcome a continuing dialogue on these issues."

   U.S. authorities have significantly stepped up enforcement of the FCPA in recent years, extracting hundreds of millions of dollars in fines from Siemens, Alcatel-Lucent, KBR and others.

   Some of the largest U.S. companies, including Wal-Mart <WMT.N> and Avon Products Inc <AVP.N>, have already spent hundreds of millions on internal investigations of potential misconduct.

   As part an effort to head off industry concerns, agencies that enforce the law last year provided new details about cases they declined to prosecute. They also gave examples about what kind of due diligence a company should perform on an acquisition target and what kind of person constitutes a foreign official.

   In the letter to Lanny Breuer, the head of the criminal division at the Justice Department, and George Canellos, who heads the enforcement division at the SEC, the groups said they appreciated much of the guidance but still had concerns. 

   For example, the agencies failed to discuss examples that show exactly how much credit a company receives if it self-reports  potential violations, the groups said. 

   Senator Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat who has considered legislation, received positive feedback on the guidance and continues to monitor the issue but has no immediate plans to revisit legislation, his spokesman, Ian Koski, said. 

   Coons "will remain involved as the dialogue between U.S. businesses and the DOJ continues," Koski said. 

(Reporting By Aruna Viswanatha; Editing by Kenneth Barry and Steve Orlofsky)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of the Thomson Reuters Foundation. For more information see our Acceptable Use Policy.

comments powered by Disqus
TOPICAL CONTENT
Topical content
LATEST SLIDESHOW

Latest slideshow

See allSee all
FEATURED JOBS
Featured jobs