BRIBES BEYOND THE BORDER
Stemming the Export
Let's say you're a business exec who's about
to ink a lucrative deal to sell a million
widgets overseas. Suddenly, a competitor swoops
in and wins the contract by discretely paying
off a foreign official.
and every bit as corrupt as bribing
your local politician.
should thrive overseas through competition,
not corruption," says Chip Burrus, who
heads up FBI criminal investigations. "The
American Dream was built on fairness and free
enterprise, not on backroom deals half a world
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 banned
a growing habit of bribing international officials
to win business. But stopping this global
brand of public corruption has never been
more importantor more on our radarthan
it is today.
Director Burrus explains why. "We
live in an age where global commerce is enmeshed
and interconnected like never before. There
are a ton of U.S. businesses nowadays that
have plants or offices in distant countries
that outsource their operations overseas
that buy and sell products and services abroad.
We can't have a level playing field if there's
all kind of chicanery going on beyond our
how we're tackling the problem. "We
recently set up a dedicated team of special
agents in our Washington Field Office who
are now working all FCPA cases," he says.
"This centralizes our focus and expertise
and helps boost coordination with the Department
of Justice's Fraud Section, which plays an
important role in these cases."
also creating an International Contract Corruption
Task Force, also based in Washington, to help
identify violations of the law. The task force
will include personnel based in Iraq, Kuwait,
and Afghanistan because of the enormous private
industry and government presence in that region.
reason why these task forces make sense:
FCPA cases are often complicated and difficult
to prosecute. Overseas bribes are typically
well hidden in complex contracts and other
procurement processes. The days of someone
"accidentally" leaving a briefcase
full of money sitting on the floor after a
business meeting to help grease the skids
are long gone.
few examples of recent cases:
highest criminal priority is to curb public
corruption, whether here or overseas,"
Burrus points out. "It's important to
it's important to
and it's especially
important to the health of our democracy."
Public Corruption website | U.S.
Department of Justice's FCPA website
note: Assistant Director Burrus left the Bureau
in the spring of 2007 and was replaced by
Kenneth W. Kaiser.