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The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform recently proposed five amendments to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act to help multinational organizations comply with regulations.
Bryan Quigley, Washington-based senior vp and spokesman at the Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform, said the bottom-line effort is not to eliminate the FCPA but to strengthen the law through clarity.
“Companies that do business abroad very much want to comply with the FCPA and, if there are places where there are genuine issues of clarity, we think it is common sense that the rules of the road are clarified so that (companies) can make sure they’re in compliance,” Mr. Quigley said, noting that unclear enforcement of the statutes and rules of the FCPA may have a chilling effect on businesses considering operating abroad.
In February, the Chamber of Commerce and more than 30 businesses and organizations sent a letter to the Department of Justice and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission identifying five areas that FCPA guidance should address.
“At this point we’re waiting to see what the guidance is coming out of the Department of Justice,” Mr. Quigley said. “Exactly when it’s going to come, we’re not sure. I would anticipate sometime hopefully around the middle of the year.”
The five proposed reforms to the FCPA are:
• Adding a compliance defense;
• Limiting a company’s liability for the prior actions of a company it has acquired;
• Adding a “willfulness” requirement for corporate criminal liability;
• Limiting a company’s liability for acts of a subsidiary; and
• Defining a “foreign official” under the statute.
Multinational organizations operating in countries where bribing officials can be a condition of doing business face heightened enforcement of anti-corruption laws by U.S. agencies, but strong compliance and training programs can go some way toward mitigating the risks.