Executive Briefings

Does New Focus on Corrupt Practices Act Signal that No One's Too Big to Escape Prosecution?

The news that Hewlett-Packard is the target of a German-Russian bribery investigation spotlights a seldom mentioned reason for the U.S. government's recently stepped-up enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act: other countries are finally starting to crack down on corruption cases.

U.S. firms have their own government to thank for closing the pincers: the Justice Department has been leaning on foreign governments for years to enact, and enforce legislation that backs up long-standing OECD anti-bribery conventions. Now that they are, Uncle Sam has also stepped-up enforcement of the FCPA law, which has been on the books since 1977. The prior laxity in enforcement could well have come about because the U.S. government was loathe to put U.S. firms at a disadvantage to overseas competition. But with the international investigation into HP, the rules seem to have changed.

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The news that Hewlett-Packard is the target of a German-Russian bribery investigation spotlights a seldom mentioned reason for the U.S. government's recently stepped-up enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act: other countries are finally starting to crack down on corruption cases.

U.S. firms have their own government to thank for closing the pincers: the Justice Department has been leaning on foreign governments for years to enact, and enforce legislation that backs up long-standing OECD anti-bribery conventions. Now that they are, Uncle Sam has also stepped-up enforcement of the FCPA law, which has been on the books since 1977. The prior laxity in enforcement could well have come about because the U.S. government was loathe to put U.S. firms at a disadvantage to overseas competition. But with the international investigation into HP, the rules seem to have changed.

Read Full Article