Foreign Corrupt Practices

Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Violations

In today’s global economy, countless businesses throughout the U. S. regularly engage in affiliations, contracts and working relationships with individuals and companies overseas, and as such are subject to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). Enacted in 1977, the Act was revised in 1998 and addresses two basic areas: anti-bribery and accounting/recordkeeping.

If you or your company deal with foreign companies, it is important to obtain information and understand the FCPA anti-bribery provisions that can affect you and to seek legal advice and guidance concerning the law.

At the Law Office of John R. Teakell in Dallas, Texas, we offer legal services to protect the legal rights and best interests of individuals and companies who are facing Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations. Clients look to John Teakell’s broad experience as a federal trial attorney and in private practice for his unique perspective of both the prosecution and the defense. Whether your case involves bribery under the FCPA anti-bribery statute or other white collar accusations, seeking legal help at the outset is crucial.

What is the FCPA Anti-Bribery Statute

The FCPA anti-bribery statute found in Title 15 of the U.S. Code, makes it a federal criminal offense if a person of the United States or entity, or any foreigner who causes an act in the United States, to make a payment to any foreign government official to obtain business or retain the business.
Amendments made in 1998 to the original Act include:

      • expanding the jurisdiction to include U.S. nationals or U.S. companies that act outside the United States, regardless of whether they use interstate commerce;
      • criminal penalties for foreigners who are agents of U.S. companies;
      • prohibiting payment to foreign officials for securing an improper advantage; and broadening the definition of “foreign official” as that term is used in the FCPA

Bribery Prohibitions

The FCPA bribery provisions, or more accurately, the bribery prohibitions, make it illegal for any U.S. citizen to bribe an official of a foreign government to obtain or retain business.
To prove a violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the government must prove that:

    • The act in question was by a prohibited person, such as U.S. residents, U.S. companies, issuers of U.S. securities;
    • For the purpose of payment or promise to pay anything of value;
    • Directly or indirectly;
    • To a foreign official;
    • For the purpose of corruptly influencing an official action or decision or securing any improper advantage;
    • In order to obtain or retain business.

FCPA Jurisdiction and Trends

The U.S. Department of Justice has the jurisdiction authority to criminally prosecute FCPA violations, while the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission also has jurisdiction to investigate these violations for civil enforcement actions. Historically, the Securities and Exchange Commission investigated and sued on accounting violations.
In recent years, the number of investigations by both agencies has significantly increased, as companies doing business in foreign countries have been sued and prosecuted for allegations of attempts to influence foreign officials in connection with company business. The results are often large criminal fines of companies and potential incarceration of certain individuals, as well as civil money penalties from civil enforcement suits.

Who May Be Liable Under the FCPA?

Persons and entities that can be held liable are:

    • U.S. citizens;
    • Entities that are incorporated in a foreign countries but have a principal place of business in the United States;
    • Foreign residents in the United States and their agents.
    • Issuers of securities.
    • Foreign residents who cause payment in U.S. territory;

FCPA Exceptions and Specific Defenses

There are some exceptions and defenses to the FCPA enumerated in the law, which include:

  • Performance of routine government actions
  • Being Lawful Pursuant to Local Law
  • Promotion of products and services
  • Reasonable expenses for a government contract

Early Legal Defense intervention

If the SEC has launched FCPA enforcement proceedings or the Department of Justice is making criminal bribery allegations, you will find the legal expertise you need to take charge of our case, at the Dallas Law Office of John R. Teakell. Call (214) 9076 to arrange a confidential consultation to discuss your situation with an experienced civil and criminal law attorney.