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Shruti J. Shah
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Russell A. Stamets
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Richard Bistrong
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Eric Carlson
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Bill Steinman
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Pulling The Strings

The criminal informations against Innospec and Daimler AG contained counts based on 18 U.S.C. §2. That’s not the FCPA, the Travel Act, money laundering, or the conspiracy statute. What is it?

It’s the aider and abettor law. Whoever causes someone else to commit a federal crime — counsels, commands, induces, or procures its commission — is punishable as a principal

As a principal means the aider and abettor is subject to the same penalties for the crime committed by its agent, as though the principal — the puppet-master — had committed the crime itself. Innospec and Daimler each caused a subsidiary to violate the FCPA; therefore they were charged as an aider an abettor of those FCPA violations.

Aiding and abetting isn’t an independent crime. The statute provides no penalty; it only abolishes the distinction between common law notions of “principal” and “accessory.” United States v. Kegler, 724 F.2d 190, 200 (D.C. Cir. 1983).

Because 18 U.S.C. §2 applies to all crimes under U.S. law, the FCPA doesn’t contain an explicit aiding and abetting provision. As mentioned, a person convicted of aiding and abetting is punishable to the same extent as if he had committed the crime himself. So aiding and abetting an FCPA antibribery offense, for example, is punishable by up to five years in prison.

It’s not necessary in an aiding and abetting offense that the bribe be actually paid or that it be successful, only that the third party (the puppet) violated the FCPA by offering, promising, or authorizing the unlawful payment or gift. See 18 U.S.C. §§ 78dd-1(a), 78dd-2(a), 78dd-3(a).

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