The text of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act sets out three types of payments to foreign officials that are lawful — facilitating payments, promotional expenses and payments permitted under the written laws of the host country. In addition to these three defenses, there are others that are repeated often — but are bogus. They originate not from judges or jurisprudence but from the wishful thinking of companies and people in need of a defense, and fast. Knowing which defenses are real and which are counterfeit is crucial, however, and learning the differences too late can have dire consequences.
Here, then, are some of the most popular FCPA defenses that do not work:
Everyone pays bribes in this country.
Don’t look at me. The / joint venture partner / agent / foreign subsidiary / did it.
Only big companies get into FCPA trouble. No one cares about a little fish like us.
My supervisor approved it.
We had no choice — either pay up or lose the deal. That’s extortion, not bribery.
We can’t control what our agent does on his own time with his own money.
A hundred tiny bribes do not add up to one big bribe.
We have to pay bribes to do business here. The U.S. Government doesn’t really expect us to leave, does it?
I was outside the U.S. and only used foreign bank accounts.
It’s not fair. . . . .
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