Associate Attorney General Lanny Breuer, left, defended the FCPA today and argued that now is not the time to water it down.
In remarks to the National Conference on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in Washington, D.C., he said amending the statute now, as proposed by the Chamber of Commerce and others, would send exactly the wrong message to the rest of the world.
Particularly since it has become increasingly clear over the past year that the trend across the globe is toward criminalization of foreign bribery. The U.K. Bribery Act took effect in July. Russia recently passed an anti-bribery law; has ratified the U.N. Convention against Corruption; and is expected soon to accede to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention. China, too, recently passed an anti-bribery law and is an observer at the OECD’s Working Group on Bribery.
Breuer admitted that other countries are still far behind in enforcement. ‘A stark reminder that the road ahead is long is that, in a report released last week, China and Russia ranked 27th and 28th, respectively, out of 28 countries on Transparency International’s 2011 Bribe Payers Index.’
But, he said, it took decades for the FCPA to become a strong an enforcement tool. ‘Having come this far on what I believe is a noble journey, we cannot, and should not, start going backwards. On the contrary, the United States must continue leading the charge against transnational bribery.’
The DOJ has considered suggestions about FCPA enforcement, he said, meeting business leaders at roundtables organized by the Department of Commerce, ‘during which industry representatives expressed their views on a wide range of issues related to the FCPA.’
Next year, the DOJ expects to release detailed new guidance on FCPA enforcement. Breuer hopes it will be ‘a useful and transparent aid.’
And in response to the OECD’s Phase 3 Review of FCPA enforcement, Breuer said the DOJ is reworking the lay person’s guide to the FCPA (here in pdf) and ‘consolidating within it much of the information that is already available from the DOJ’s FCPA site.