While some might consider bribery a fairly straight-forward concept, the business world has faced some difficulty defining a bribe in the context of the U.S.’ Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. With that in mind, Reuters reports that several major trade groups sent a letter to the U.S. Justice Department seeking to clarify the rules laid out in the law.
FCPA regulations prohibit bribing government officials in foreign countries, but fail to define exactly what the law means by either a bribe or a government official.
FCPA refers to an “instrumentality” of foreign governments, but offers no guidance in specific cases such as employees at private companies held under sovereign wealth funds. The law even fails to establish whether companies can justify paying for business costs such as travel expenses.
Meanwhile, the possibility of being held liable for regulatory compliance breaches by subsidiary companies has discouraged acquisitions.
At the same time, the picture has grown more complicated by the collapse of a recent case where the Justice Department attempted to charge a company for violations observed in a sting operation, according to Bloomberg.