As the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act nears its 40th anniversary, it is perhaps neither here nor there 40 years later whether Congress in enacting the law was motivated by altruistic, do-good intentions or selfish, foreign policy goals.
But then again, it is important not to reinvent history or look at historical conduct through rose-colored glasses. Indeed, there are numerous accounts of history that ignore what really happened in favor of accounts that sound better.
Sure, one will find certain statements in the legislative history to support the notion that what motivated Congress to enact the FCPA was so-called post-Watergate morality and to level the proverbial “playing field” and make the world a better place.
But let’s not kid ourselves. As detailed in “The Story of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act,” (the most extensive piece written about the FCPA’s legislative history and largely told through the original voices of participants), the main motivation of Congress in enacting the FCPA was not altruism, but selfish foreign policy reasons.