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On Inauguration Day, We Really Ought To Pause And Reflect

inauguration

In recent weeks, the U.S. has brought Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement actions against Brazilian companies based in part on conduct with Brazilian politicians and party parties and another enforcement action against a Chilean company based on its conduct with Chilean politicians and party parties. (See here and here).

FCPA enforcement actions frequently include allegations about “golf in the morning and beer drinking in the evening,” expensive bottles of wine, spa and sauna treatments, charitable contributions or internship and hiring practices all involving alleged “foreign officials.”

Bribery, the U.S. government says, and confidently proclaims “we in the United States are in a unique position to spread the gospel of anti-corruption” and that FCPA enforcement ensures not only that the United States “is on the right side of history, but also that it has a hand in advancing that history.”

Yet on inauguration day, when Washington, D.C. is awash in corporate money more so than a typical day, we really ought to pause and reflect.

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The First-Ever National Action Plan On Responsible Business Conduct Is A Whole Lot Of Fluff

fluff

Recently the U.S. government released its “first-ever National Action Plan on Responsible Business Conduct.” (See here for the document, here for the State Department release and here for the White House release).

I don’t know the precise answer for what the expectation should be for the final deliverable of a government program launched approximately 2.5 years ago and issued in the final days of a lame duck administration. Whatever that expectation level should be, the National Action Plan is a whole lot of fluff with some overblown rhetoric and uncomfortable truths mixed in that misses the big picture.

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Same Old, Same Old From The DOJ On Individual FCPA Prosecutions

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In running a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act news source for seven years running, there is a “been there, done that” aspect to some of the writing.

For instance, every late November FCPA Professor highlights speeches by DOJ and SEC enforcement officials at a certain FCPA conference run by a for-profit conference company which engages in the disgraceful practice of marketing our public officials to draw attendance to its paid event as if the public officials are a commodity they own. (See here, here, and here for prior posts regarding this practice).

Why DOJ and SEC officials allow themselves to be used in such a way is beyond me.

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Friday Roundup

Roundup

Scrutiny alerts and updates, ripples, difficult business conditions, resource alerts, and for the reading stack. It’s all here in the Friday roundup.

Scrutiny Alerts and Updates

Wal-Mart

Bloomberg reports:

“Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is butting heads with the U.S. government over how to wrap up a long-running foreign corruption investigation. Officials have proposed that the world’s biggest retailer pay at least $600 million to resolve probes by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission into whether it bribed government officials in markets from Mexico to India and China, according to three people familiar with the matter. The retailer has rebuffed the government’s request, two of them said.

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Regarding Charitable Foundations …

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This previous post highlighted Hillary Clinton’s corruption perception problem.

With additional revelations about the Clinton Foundation recently in the news (see here for AP report, here for a Los Angeles Times report), this post highlights Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement actions that have involved, in whole or in part, donations to foundations founded by or favored by foreign officials.

To be sure, Hillary Clinton is not the only U.S. official or candidate for office who has been under the microscope regarding a charitable foundation (this recent article “The Uncomfortable Truths and Double Standards of Bribery Enforcement” details other examples).

However, the irony is that as Secretary of State Clinton championed the U.S. crusade against foreign bribery under the FCPA stating that the Obama administration “has taken a strong stand when it comes to American companies bribing foreign officials” and that any perceived weakening of the FCPA “would not give us the leverage and the credibility that we are seeking” on the world stage.

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