In written answers made public Thursday, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that if he’s confirmed as U.S. attorney general, he’ll enforce the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., had sent follow-up questions to Sessions, asking whether the DOJ would enforce what President Trump once called a “terrible law.”
“Yes, if confirmed as attorney general, I will enforce all federal laws, including the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the International Anti-Bribery Act of 1998, as appropriate based on the facts and circumstances of each case,” Sessions said.
(The International Anti-Bribery and Fair Competition Act of 1998 amended (pdf) the FCPA to implement provisions of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention. It expanded jurisdiction to anyone acting within the United States, it made bribes to international organizations illegal, and it added language banning bribes that seek an “unfair advantage” from a foreign official.)
President Trump criticized the FCPA in a 2012 phone-in appearance on CNBC. The FCPA-related part of the discussion starts at about 14 minutes into the call.
He said the FCPA is a “horrible law and it should be changed.”
“I mean, we’re like the policemen for the world,” Trump said “It’s ridiculous.”
[Editor’s note: Most sources say Trump called the FCPA a “terrible law.” But on CNBC, he called it a “horrible law.”]
In Question 13 to Sessions, Sen. Whitehouse said:
President Trump has called the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act a “terrible law.” But the Act, as amended by the International Anti-Bribery Act of 1998, is the cornerstone of federal efforts to prevent and prosecute bribery of foreign officials by U.S. corporations, and to maintain a fair and level playing field for small and mid-size corporations doing business overseas. Since 2008, the federal government — DOJ, SEC, and the FBI — have maintained about 150 active investigations at any given time, resulting in $1.56 billion in fines in 2014.
Will you commit to continued vigorous enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the International Anti-Bribery Act of 1998?
Sen. Sessions responded:
Yes, if confirmed as Attorney General, I will enforce all federal laws, including the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the International Anti-Bribery Act of 1998, as appropriate based on the facts and circumstances of each case.
The full transcript of Questions for the Record submitted January 17, 2017 from Senator Whitehouse in the nomination of Jeff Sessions to be Attorney General of the United States is here (pdf).
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog.