Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

In 1977 the United States enacted the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) after a period of tumultuous political revelations known collectively as “Watergate.” The Act was written to decrease the widespread bribery happening among political officials by U.S. enterprises. Those who violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act are committing a crime.

FCPA imposes both criminal and civil penalties for those violating anti-bribery provisions. Bribing corporations may face criminal fees up in the millions, while individuals may face steep fines and added incarceration. No matter the circumstances, the federal penalties for FCPA violators are harsh.

If you or someone you know has been charged with violating FCPA anti-bribery provisions, it’s crucial that you seek a white collar crimes attorney today.

FCPA Attorneys in Bexar County, Texas

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act aims to prohibit businesses, officials, and individuals from influencing governmental personnel and their decisions. Federal law investigators are keener than ever regarding FCPA violators due to prosecutions increasing since the 1970’s. Any person who has been charged with violating FCPA, should seek legal representation immediately.

The attorneys at Goldstein, Goldstein, Hilley & Orr are skilled in interpreting both State and federal laws. We have had numerous cases surrounding violations of FCPA provisions and understand that the federal court system can be overwhelming. Our attorneys want to do use our resources to protect your life and businesses. Start making your defense today with Goldstein, Goldstein, Hilley & Orr.

Goldstein, Goldstein, Hilley & Orr accepts clients throughout the greater San Antonio area and nearing communities including Universal City, Elmendorf, Live Oak, Somerset, Helotes, Selma, Kirby, and Sandy Oaks.

Call us now at (210) 226-1463 for a free consultation surrounding your case today.

Overview of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act


FCPA Anti-Bribery Provision

The Foreign Corruption Practices Act prohibits persons or businesses to bribe, offer, gift, promise to pay, or authorize payment to any political official for a personal benefit. United States Code 15 §78dd-1 outlines how a person can violate FCPA anti-bribery provisions.

It’s unlawful for a person, domestic concern, or any type of employee to offer payment, promises to pay, give anything of value, or other types of bribery to:

  • Any type of foreign official to:
    • Help influence an act or decision of that official;
    • Convince the official to do or omit any act that violates their lawful duties;
    • Securing any improper advantage over that individual;
    • Have that official use their influence for any upcoming decision or act with a foreign government; or
    • Help the issuer of the bribe to obtain or retain business with any person.
  • Any foreign political party, official, or political party candidate for a foreign government:
    • To influence decisions or acts of such political person or party;
    • Convince the party, official, or party to do or omit any act that is a violation of their official duties;
    • For the purpose to secure any improper advantage over that party or persons;
    • To use the persons or party influence for any pending act or decision with a foreign government; or
    • Help the issuer of the bribe to obtain or retain business with any person.
  • Any person, while knowing that all or a portion of the money or thing of value will be offered, given, or promised to any foreign official, party, or political candidate for a foreign political office, for the purposes of:
    • To influence decisions or acts of such foreign party, party official, political candidate, or foreign official;
    • Persuade or induce such official, party official, political candidate to do or omit any act that violates their lawful duties;
    • Securing any kind of improper advantage;
    • Help convince party official, political party, foreign official or candidate to use their influence to affect the outcome of any act or decision made by that person or entity; or
    • Help the issuer of the bribe to obtain or retain business with any person.

Definitions in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act uses various terminology to incorporate both business entities and individuals in their provisions. The following are the definitions for terms used in FCPA anti-bribery provisions.

  • Foreign Official – Officers or employees of any foreign government, public international organization, or person in an official capacity or on behalf of a foreign government.
  • Routine Governmental Action – Any action that is commonly performed by a foreign official in doing any of the following:
    • Obtaining licenses, permits, or other official documents to qualify a person to do business in another foreign country;
    • Give phone service, water and power supply, protecting perishable products from deterioration, or loading and unloading cargo;
    • Providing mail pick-up and delivery, police protection, or scheduling inspections associated with contractor inspections or performance related to the transit of goods across the United States;
    • Processing governmental papers; or
    • Actions of a similar nature.
  • Domestic Concern – A person who is a citizen, national or resident of the U.S and any corporation, association, joint-stock company, business trust, partnership, unincorporated organization or sole proprietorship located in the United States.
  • Interstate Commerce – Trade, transportation, commerce, or communication among state or U.S. country lines.

Penalties for FCPA Violations in the United States

The penalties for violating FCPA are dependent on who the alleged offender is. The legal consequences for FCPA violations include incredibly steep fines, and possible incarceration.

  • Any domestic concern that is not an individual who tries to bribe a political official or a political party for a benefit:
    • Will be fined for not more than $2,00,000; and
    • Subject to a civil penalty of not more than $10,000 by the Attorney General.
  • Any individual who is a director, employee, officer, or agent of a domestic concern that knowingly bribes a political official or party shall:
    • Be fined not more than $100,000 or incarcerated for not more than 5 years;
    • Subject to a civil penalty of not more than $10,000 by the Attorney General.
  • Any person who works in the U.S. judicial branch who tries to bribe a political official or political party for a benefit:
    • Shall be fined not more than $2,000,000; and
    • Shall be subject to a civil penalty of not more than $10,000 by the Attorney General.
  • Any individual who knowingly bribes a political official, party candidate, or party for a benefit, shall be:
    • Fined not more than $100,000 or incarcerated for not more than 5 years; and
    • Subject to a civil penalty of not more than $10,000 by the Attorney General.

Affirmative Defenses for FCPA Violations

FCPA outlines several viable defenses for those who violate their anti-bribery provisions. U.S.C. § 78dd-1 states the following affirmative defenses for those charged with violating FCPA.

  • The gift, offer, payment or promise of anything of value was made in a lawful manner under the laws and regulations of the foreign official’s country;
  • The gift, offer, payment or promise of anything of value was a reasonable expense such as housing, and was directly related to:
    • The demonstration, promotion or explanation of the product or service;
    • The performance of a contract with a foreign government.
  • The payment or promise of payment was to expedite or to secure the regular performance of routine governmental actions by the political official or party.

Additional Resources

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act – Visit the official website for the United States Code, a collection of federal laws and regulations. Find more information surrounding the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the penalties, affirmative defenses, and opinions of the Attorney General.

A Resource Guide to FCPA – Visit the Resource Guide to FCPA by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. Find more information about who the anti-bribery provisions cover, what are facilitating or expediting payments, and what is the applicable statue of limitations.


San Antonio Lawyers for the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

If you or someone you know has been charged with violating the anti-bribery provision of the FCPA, it’s essential that you retain trusted legal representation. The attorneys at Goldstein, Goldstein, Hilley & Orr are skilled in both State and federal law for residents in the Bexar County, Texas area.

Our attorneys at Goldstein, Goldstein, Hilley & Orr understand the complexities of United States foreign policies. We are equipped with the extensive knowledge and resources you need for a sturdy defense. The attorneys at Goldstein, Goldstein, Hilley & Orr defend those accused of crimes throughout the greater Bexar County area and surrounding counties including Kendall County, Guadalupe County, Wilson County, and Travis County.

Call now at (210) 226-1463 to schedule a free consultation surrounding your charges today.


This article was last updated on November 7, 2018.

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