Eighty percent of U.S. companies have now banned facilitating payments entirely, and nearly four in ten small U.S. companies have walked away from business in countries where the perceived risk of non-compliance was too high.
Those are among the findings of Fulbright & Jaworski’s 2008 Litigation Trends Survey. The fifth annual report is based on input from 358 U.S. and U.K. in-house counsel, including 251 U.S. respondents.
Here are some facts from the “Bribery and Foreign Corruption” section of the survey, which is available here:
- Twenty percent of companies with $1 billion or more in revenues undertook a bribery or corruption investigation during the survey period. For companies with less than $1 billion in revenues, the number was 2%, and for companies under $100 million, it was just 1%.
- Manufacturers led all other industry segments in corruption investigations at 14%, followed by energy firms at 12%.
- Seven percent of U.S. companies engaged outside counsel because of possible corruption or bribery charges, including violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
- Eleven percent of the responding companies with international operations hired outside counsel during the survey year to investigate bribery claims, and 20% dealt with potential bribery concerns as part of due diligence in a corporate acquisition.
- Only 20% of U.S. companies still allow facilitating payments in some countries as a means of expediting business and government functions.
- In the U.K, 39% of companies still permit facilitating payments.
- Thirteen percent of the responding companies admit they still allow small direct payments to foreign governments in certain specific situations.
- One-quarter of energy companies and one-fifth of financial services firms admitted making direct payments to foreign hosts in some cases.
- Twenty three percent of all U.S. companies said they have made the decision to walk away from doing business in a country based on the perceived degree of local corruption. For companies with under $100 million in revenues, the walk-away rate was 39%, and for billion-dollar companies it was 31%.
A release says the survey was conducted earlier this year (and in the prior four years) by Greenwood Associates, a Houston-based research firm. It canvassed 358 in-house counsel in the U.S. and U.K., more than two-thirds of whom identified themselves as either general counsel or deputy general counsel, with 7% holding the title of senior counsel, 10% associate general counsel, and 15% staff counsel.
The industry groups covered by the survey included financial services, energy, manufacturing, health care, retail, real estate, insurance, education, and technology and telecommunications. By size, 22% of the responding companies report revenues under $100 million, 39% report revenues between $100 million and $999 million, and 39% at $1 billion and above. Just under half the companies are publicly held (a quarter are listed on the NYSE) and 57% maintain at least one foreign office, with 19% having locations in more than 20 countries.