‘Police in Kennebunk, Maine, on Monday released the names of close to two dozen people suspected of paying to have sex with a fitness instructor at her Zumba studio,’ the story on CNN said.
The judge in the case, Thomas Warren, wrote:
‘The principle that court proceedings are public is essential to public confidence. If persons charged with crimes could withhold their identities, the public would not be able to monitor proceedings to observe whether justice has been done and to observe whether certain defendants may have received favored treatment.’
We agree with Judge Warren. That’s why we’ve long said the DOJ and SEC should publish the names of bribe takers in FCPA enforcement actions. But that doesn’t happen.
It’s true that bribe takers can’t be punished under the FCPA, only bribe payers. But it’s also true that the American public should know which foreign officials are demanding bribes. How else to avoid doing business with them? And overseas citizens want to know so they can hold their crooked leaders accountable. But the DOJ and SEC won’t budge.
And it goes beyond the enforcement agencies. When the State Department denies kleptocrats and their friends U.S. visas under Presidential Proclamation 7750, there’s never a public announcement. The reason, according to the State Department, is because other provisions of U.S. law make it a crime to disclose U.S. visa determinations. So decisions and reasons for them to ban kleptocrats from the United States are kept secret forever.
That American news blackout shields the crooks and their enablers from bad publicity at home, and endangers global businesses that might stumble into their web of corruption.
The Kennebunk Zumba case can serve as a good example.
More light should shine on bribe takers everywhere.