Bribes and Kickbacks Don’t Happen in My Organization – I think?
The U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and the U.K. Bribery Act 2010, along with dozens of trade treaties and conventions, forbid consummated (and attempted) improper or unethical payments to government officials or prospective parties to commercial deals by you or your employees or agents. Generally speaking, the FCPA can apply to prohibited conduct anywhere in the world and extends to publicly traded companies and their employees. The FCPA carries with it the prospect of $25 million in fines and 25-year jail terms, but these can be stacked higher. The U.K. law, including its penalties, are even more stringent. Both laws prosecute individuals, but can also punish employers for facilitating such payments.
The reach of the FCPA and the U.K. Act is wide and deep, given how difficult it is to avoid “taking action” in the U.S. or in nations linked to the British Commonwealth. And employers may expose themselves to risk for not training their workforce and requiring third parties to act with integrity.
Beyond the need to book every expense accurately, there is a larger and more compelling need to avoid conflicts of interest, report outside interests, win business fairly, and have an anti-corruption culture. In addressing these important points, employers must consider any number of questions, including:
Who is a government official?
What is a bribe in various contexts?
How much value is “too much”?
What about sports event tickets?
What about places where “everyone does it that way”?
What if we didn’t know the local broker did that?
The good news is there is a specific set of actions and documents which can put an employer in much better stead if an agent or employee “goes rogue."