So there are countries around the world that have “gone beyond” the FCPA and prohibited facilitating payments. Good for them. And the United States “lags behind” because it still does not prohibit such payments. Should U.S. law enforcement be concerned because others have taken an important initiative?
Let’s first consider a question. Of all these countries that now have laws that prohibit facilitating payments, what is the record on enforcing these provisions — what enforcement cases there have been? Was this a meaningful exercise that has led to actual cases, or was it more form than substance?
There have long been skeptics, including me. Of course, I agree that even small bribes are wrong, and companies should not permit their employees to make them. But I have felt that some countries were only willing to enact broad prohibitions against everything, because they really intended to enforce nothing. I believe in strong enforcement, not merely gestures.
But were the skeptics wrong? Has there, in fact, been rigorous enforcement of these prohibitions? Or was any enforcement agency really going to expend scare resources against $10 payments to office clerks, when those same resources were needed to address major contract briberies involving corporate executives and government ministers?
If anyone is aware of such cases, can you post here so we can learn what has been done to provide meaning to these laws?
Joe Murphy, pictured above, is a Certified Compliance and Ethics Professional and author of 501 Ideas for Your Compliance and Ethics Program: Lessons from 30 Years of Practice (SCCE; 2008) and A Compliance & Ethics Program on a Dollar a Day. He has worked in the compliance field for over 40 years. He can be contacted here.