The FCPA isn’t perfect and the DOJ’s enforcement style doesn’t always meet heavenly standards. But no one can deny this country’s contribution to keeping international business clean and holding national leaders accountable.
Consider this: At the G-20 summit in Seoul earlier this month — and lost in the noise about currencies and trade — President Obama convinced the other leaders to sign “a comprehensive Action Plan to strengthen anti-corruption efforts worldwide.”
The Action Plan included some great goals: promoting transparency in public contracts, adopting and enforcing laws against public bribery, preventing access by corrupt officials to the global financial system and denying them safe havens, protecting whistleblowers, and safeguarding anti-corruption bodies.
And in a G-20 briefing paper, the White House listed these American accomplishments:
* Increased enforcement capacity to pursue bribery of officials overseas, including enhanced enforcement efforts of the Fraud Section at the Department of Justice and the creation of a dedicated unit at the Securities and Exchange Commission, which has helped to level the playing field for ethical businesses that operate internationally.
* Filing 105 enforcement actions involving bribery of foreign officials overseas since the beginning of 2009, and collecting over $2 billion in criminal and civil penalties.
* Using Presidential Proclamation 7750 and other immigration authorities to prevent corrupt officials and those who pay them bribes from entering the United States, with increased focus on corruption in extractive industries and a decision to double staffing to provide more capacity to the State Department’s anti-kleptocracy efforts.
* Launched a Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, initiating the process to substantially increase staffing in the Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section to pursue the proceeds of foreign official corruption and foster international cooperation.
* Led the creation and initiation of a new peer review mechanism to review the efforts of 147 countries in implementing the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, and set an example to other countries by being one of the first countries to be reviewed.
* Continued U.S. leadership in the OECD Working Group on Bribery.
* Provided over $1 billion in fiscal year 2009 in anti-corruption and related good governance assistance aimed at promoting transparency, accountability and participation in government institutions and public processes at all levels.
* Posted expert prosecutors and law enforcement officers in over 35 countries this year to assist in building sound and fair justice systems and establishing non-corrupt institutions. Provided specialized anti-corruption assistance, including three initial pilot programs on recovery of assets stowed abroad by corrupt officials, in targeted countries.
* Signed three new Millennium Challenge Corporation compacts in 2009 and 2010 totaling $1.2 billion with countries selected, in part, on performance on control of corruption.
* Increased efforts in business education and awareness including outreach to potential importers and investors in developing countries and support for ethics initiatives.
* With this year’s financial commitment, became the largest donor to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative — providing $10.5 million to the Trust Fund over the last three years — and worked with international organizations, the private sector, and governments to help resource rich countries build transparent and accountable practices in the extractive industries sector.
* Worked with the U.S. Congress to pass a “Publish What You Pay” law requiring that oil, gas, and mining companies report payments to the U.S. or any foreign government for resource extraction.
That’s an awesome record. It doesn’t mean America is always right. Or that “so-called pundits,” as the DOJ calls them, should stop asking tough questions. But there’s no doubt about America’s unequaled contributions to global compliance.
So yes, we’re thankful today for what this country has done to reduce sleaze around the globe. And for the chance to talk about the highs and the lows.
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