Visitors to this blog — if they haven’t done so already — will want to read an outstanding article from the November 25, 2007 edition of the New York Times. It’s called “Payload: Taking Aim at Corporate Bribery.” The lengthy piece about the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act is by Nelson D. Schwartz, one of America’s best business journalists, and legendary investigative producer / reporter Lowell Bergman. In the movie The Insider, Al Pacino played Mr. Bergman. That’s impressive.
The article can be found here.
It’s a great read and, we believe, a milestone for the FCPA. It signals a new level of interest, triggered by record-numbers of high-profile prosecutions and pending investigations. Companies involved now include Siemens, Halliburton, Schlumberger, BAE and dozens of others. The oil services-related cases have strategic implications for U.S. energy policy in Nigeria, the Middle East and the Caspian, and the BAE case could eventually test the special relationships the United States has with Britain and Saudi Arabia. At the same time, prosecutors around the globe are now cooperating more and have better resources for their fight against public corruption. Without doubt, the importance of the FCPA is set to soar.
Our favorite quote among many good ones in “Payload” is this, from Alice Fisher, the U.S. Justice Department’s Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division: “Corruption undercuts democracy, stifles economic growth and creates an uneven playing field for U.S. companies overseas,” Ms. Fisher says. “We are facing transnational crime all over the place.”
We’re grateful for the great reporting and analysis by Messrs. Schwartz and Bergman. They’ve given a big boost to the growing public discussion about our favorite subject.