In December 2015, I wrote about spending two Thanksgivings in federal prison. Even now, after being out of prison for twice the time I spent there, I know I’ll never forget the separation from friends and loved ones.
When I wrote that 2015 post for the FCPA Blog, I was still dealing with the consequences of my crimes — being on federal probation with stringent reporting requirements and travel restrictions, holding down an $11 per hour part time job as a probationary requirement, and working out a number health issues as a result of incarceration.
But that time in 2015 also marked another milestone. I started contributing to the FCPA Blog. Back then, I still found the FCPA world to be a daunting place, full of experienced and highly skilled practitioners and professionals. I often wondered if I even had a voice that belonged or brought value?
Part of my reticence was that in 2015, I saw the FCPA as a world unto itself — a specialized law with its own unique enforcement regime and compliance practices. I didn’t have any legal or forensic credentials so it was natural for me to question my role.
But thanks to the FCPA Blog, and to the kind comments and encouragement of the FCPA Blog’s readership, and to fellow editors like Andy Spalding, who skyped me into his law class, I started to see the FCPA not just as a statute but also as a community.
Over the past two years on the FCPA Blog, contributors like Alison Taylor and James Cohen have addressed our strange new hyper-transparent world, Sarah Altschuller has focused our attention on the supply chain, and Nicole Rose has challenged our creative instincts. Through them and others, I’ve seen a significant evolution in the discourse. What I initially witnessed as a robust legal discussion has broadened into a wider conversation about how we should think about a spectrum of societal, legal and ethical issues that influence our “FCPA world” and our sensibilities and responsibilities as global corporate citizens.
The varied voices always make things interesting. There’s no better example than the recent point-counter-point on the Paradise Papers between Alison Taylor et al and Martin Kenney. What more could we ask for than Martin’s last post, which starts with him being “delighted when Alison Taylor described my post as being provocative before taking me to task on a number of the issues I raised.”
Martin’s initial post clearly sparked what I recently termed an uncomfortable conversation, where those, including Alison, felt no reticence or intimidation about pivoting to a very different perspective. If those two ever get together over English Tea, I won’t want to miss it!
During this Thanksgiving, when my turkey is no longer wrapped in aluminum foil, the FCPA is much more than the law I went to federal prison for violating. It’s also about a wonderful community where people of good will and intelligence engage in global debate and dialog around the issues of corruption and compliance, governance and enforcement. And much like the discussion and conversation around a Thanksgiving meal, it’s a time for gratitude. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
Richard Bistrong is a contributing editor of the FCPA Blog and CEO of Front-Line Anti-Bribery LLC. In 2010 he pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to violate the FCPA and served fourteen-and-a-half months at a U.S. federal prison camp. He was named to Compliance Week’s list of Top Minds in 2017 and was one of Ethisphere’s 100 Most Influential in Business Ethics in 2015.
His popular real-life compliance training video, Behind the Bribe, produced in cooperation with Mastercard, was released in June.
To request a demo of the full eleven-minute video or a licensing fee schedule, please click here.