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Harry Cassin
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Caldwell: ‘We fight overseas corruption to protect our national security’

At Duke’s law school Thursday in Durham, North Carolina, Leslie Caldwell, the chief of the DOJ’s criminal division, talked about international crime and enforcement. She covered the fight against cybercrime, kleptocrats and their assets, Libor rigging, sanctions offenses, human trafficking and child exploitation, and corruption.

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In her remarks about overseas graft, here’s what she said:

Another facet of transnational crime today is international corruption. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or FCPA, is a law that prohibits the paying of bribes to foreign government officials to assist in obtaining or retaining business.

You may be asking yourself why the U.S. Justice Department is involved in the fight against corruption abroad. In fact, there are people who claim that taking aim at foreign bribery puts U.S. companies at a competitive disadvantage in countries where bribery is just business as usual.

The threats posed to the United States by international corruption, however, cannot be overlooked. Foremost, corrupt countries are less safe. Corruption thwarts economic development, traps entire populations in poverty, and leaves countries without a credible justice system. Corrupt officials who put their personal enrichment before the benefit of their citizenry create unstable countries. And as we have seen time and again, unstable countries become the breeding grounds and safe havens for terrorist groups and other criminals who threaten the security of the United States.

International corruption also inhibits the ability of American companies to compete overseas on a level playing field. Once bribery and corruption take hold, fair and competitive business practices are eliminated. Nobody but the corrupt official benefits from bribery.

For all of these reasons, fighting foreign corruption is not a service we provide to the global community, but rather a necessary enforcement action to protect our own national security interests and the ability of our U.S. companies to compete on a global scale.

And, it is not just the United States that is recognizing the importance of foreign bribery laws. There is an ever growing chorus of countries voicing support for the fight against this type of corruption. More and more countries are joining international bodies that provide uniform standards for the criminalization of bribery of foreign public officials in international business transactions. This type of collaboration is critical if we are going to have a meaningful impact on international corruption.

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Here full remarks are here.


Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.

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1 Comment

  1. I like the sentiment but would add to the national security facet, foreign policy and international development policy as well. The development community operates in some very challenging overseas environments in order to support the world's most vulnerable. Probably as important as what we do, is how we do it.

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