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International and foreign law on bribery and corruption

Examples of international frameworks, which are ratified by respective member states include:

  • OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials (1997)
    [This makes it a crime for companies and individuals to pay bribes to foreign public officials.]
  • UN Convention against Corruption (2003). [This addresses bribery both at home and abroad and includes private sector corruption.]

The Anti-Corruption Standards and Frameworks (produced by the Institute of Business Ethics) provides an overview of selected international private sector standards seeking to combat bribery and corruption. It sets out the content and implementation requirements of each standard.

Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)

In addition, the provisions of the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FPCA) will affect the operations of many multinational companies, besides those primarily based in the US.

The FCPA established criminal and civil penalties for unlawful payments or bribes (or promises of payments) to foreign officials for the purpose of obtaining or keeping business, either directly or indirectly or through agents, to influence any act or decision or to secure any improper advantage in order to obtain or retain business.

The FCPA applies to foreign companies listed on a US exchange or required to file accounts with the SEC, as well as by US corporations or US nationals. It also applies to foreign nationals who cause an act in the US (such as a wire transfer or establishment of an e-mail server in the US) which furthers an FCPA offence.

Accounting requirements apply to companies required to file periodic reports with the SEC. Requirements cover both systems of internal control and adequate record keeping – non-compliance can be a criminal offence.

The US federal authorities are pursuing cases aggressively and assessing large penalties for the violations of FPCA.

Companies which may be subject to the FCPA are strongly advised to conduct suitable due diligence on intermediaries, agents or local partners. Local U.S. Embassies or Consulates can provide suitable profiles under the International Company Profile (ICP) service.