I was born in 1977. Yet for most of my life, nobody cared or talked much about me. However, about eight years ago, my caretakers suggested that I change my look (get a new haircut, change my wardrobe, those sort of things). Boy did that help.
In some circles at least, I am now the most popular person in town. Indeed, I recently read (see here) that I am one of the top legal concerns of general counsel. There are now numerous seminars and training sessions about me. In fact an entire industry of lawyers, accountants, and other business and compliance professionals have sprung up devoted to just me! I even hear (see here) you can now buy insurance to protect against the high costs of investigating whether I am relevant. I even hear there are a few websites devoted to me. As you can see, it is a good time to be me.
Lawyers travel to the far reaches of the globe just to determine if I am relevant. Corporations publicly disclose potential dates with me. and lawyers run to Washington D.C. (my birthplace) to tell my caretakers how relevant I am (when I may not be relevant at all).
Yet, I am relevant. What could be more relevant that being the reason for some individuals eating breakfast this morning in federal prison?
Who am I?
Why of course I am the FCPA and today is my 34rd birthday!
There is much that happened during my 33rd year. I gained brothers and sisters around the world and my closest sibling, after a long gestation period, was finally born – he is both taller than me, yet at the same time shorter than me. I didn’t expect to receive worldwide media attention this past summer, but I guess when I am mentioned in the same sentence as a media company owned by a politically divisive figure, well, that just sort of happens. I continue, in some instances, to be misapplied and misunderstood, but at least this past year some of that misapplication was by individuals in black robes. In the past, I didn’t have many dates with those black robes people. This past year, other people didn’t like it when my caretakers made up a scheme so that I would be relevant. My parents never intended me to be an all-purpose corporate ethics statute, but that is what I am becoming. Speaking of the parents, they continue to examine my application and have suggested reforming me. Who knows, next year at this time I may look and feel a bit different.
On December 19, 1977, the FCPA was enacted. On December 20, 1977, President Carter signed the FCPA into law.
Hosting an FCPA birthday party?
Here is the signing statement to read just before the candles are placed on the cake. After cake, instead of a game of “pin the cash-filled suitcase on the foreign official” how about a discussion as to whether the enacting Congress and President Carter would recognize certain enforcement theories which have become a hallmark of current enforcement environment. After that, if guests remain, how about an FCPA reform discussion, this is sure to liven the party.