What is the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act?

Bribery is an illegal action that some people try to use in business to get ahead. They may try to bribe government officials to get them to ignore rules or laws or to do something specific that will give them a leg up in business.

The U.S. holds the competitiveness of the business market in high esteem. There is a range of laws in place to help prevent actions that give any business an unfair advantage. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act outlaws bribing government officials for their help in business transactions.

About the FCPA

This law prohibits using the mail to offer payment of any type to any foreign or domestic government official to do something or not do something within his or her official capacity. The goal of such an act is to allow the briber to get an advantage in business.

The FCPA also contains accounting regulations. These help keep transparency in the accounting of businesses. It can help to bring to light any oddities that may uncover violations of the FCPA.

Application

Congress enacted the FCPA in 1977. Since that time, it has had additions and changes. Originally, the act focused on U.S. government officials, but amendments have expanded it to include foreign government officials as well.

The FCPA does apply only when the bribery takes place within the United States, though. The payment of the bribe must happen on U.S. soil. Although, engaging in the bribery actions while in the U.S. or as a U.S. citizen also falls under the FCPA.