One common Foreign Corrupt Practices Act hypothetical that has been repeated often over the last couple of months sort of goes like this. The current COVID-19 crisis presents increased FCPA risks because, among other things, businesses are scrambling to secure personal protective equipment (PPE) for their workers and some of this PPE may be located in foreign countries and/or manufactured by foreign governments or state-owned or state controlled enterprises. (See here, here, here, and here for examples).
I’ve never really understood this hypothetical. Among other things, in the FCPA’s 40+ year history I am not aware of any enforcement action in which the alleged improper conduct occurred in connection with the purchase of a good or service rather than in connection with selling or facilitating the sale of a good or service.
Moreover, as highlighted in this prior post, the FCPA has, among other elements, a corrupt intent element.
As highlighted below, during a webinar yesterday Daniel Kahn (Senior Deputy Chief, U.S. Department of Justice Criminal Division – Fraud Section) addressed a version of this hypothetical.