October 25th, 2012
In late 1975 a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into Lockheed Corporation revealed that the aircraft manufacturer had paid at least $22 million in bribes to foreign government officials and political organizations. At the time, this was not illegal and it resulted in a scandal, investigation, and a revelation that hundreds of other businesses were routinely involved in this practice. In response to the Lockheed scandal, Congress enacted the Foreign Corrupt Practice Act (FCPA) in an effort to “bring a halt to the bribery of foreign officials and to restore public confidence in the integrity of the American business...
November 30th, 2011
By now, I’m sure you’ve heard Google’s informal and now iconic motto “Don’t be Evil.” Google describes this slogan as twofold. To the company, the motto is first about providing its “users unbiased access to information, focusing on their needs and giving them the best products and services.” Second, it is more generally about “doing the right thing,” including “following the law, acting honorably and treating each other with respect.” While some on this blog (and even Steve Jobs once) have accurately pointed out ways in which Google has failed to act by this code, in many other ways,...
October 21st, 2011
Yesterday I switched on the radio in my car and heard a familiar phrase. Just as I started listening, NPR had just started reading a story on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or FCPA, and the recent efforts by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to amend the law. Feeling excited, I turned up my dial.
The Chamber’s basic argument is that the FCPA, the flagship U.S.legislation that makes it illegal to bribe a foreign official, is too cumbersome on U.S. businesses. For months now, the Chamber has been lobbying to weaken the FCPA and has even retained former U.S. Attorney...
October 14th, 2011
Weakening the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Makes Sense from Neither a Moral nor Economic Perspective
American businesses sometimes argue against the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the U.S. flagship legislation which makes bribery of foreign officials a crime, using economics. We see this, in particular with the latest inundations of attacks from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has taken it upon itself to single-handedly dismantle the effectiveness of the FCPA. These interests claim that the FCPA makesU.S. businesses less competitive internationally because other businesses from other countries are “allowed to bribe.” Of course, they don’t put it that crudely. But...