Conducting Business Abroad: What Are the Risks Under the FCPA?


Your company is entering a new market overseas. You hire a local lawyer to help you navigate the steps necessary to obtain a license to conduct business in that country. Once you get your license, you hire third-party sales agents to sell your various insurance products to employers. Your sales agents go out in the field and wine and dine the employers executives who have decision-making responsibility.

Ultimately, the employers, after several very lavish dinners, much-soughtafter tickets to sporting events, and a trip to the United States, agree to offer your product to their employees. Win-win? That depends. Who is the lawyer? Is she married to an official who works in the government agency in charge of licensing insurance companies? Is that the reason she was hired? Is she being paid a fair market fee or more than others charge in the same market? If the latter, you may have violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 (“FCPA”) 15 U.S.C. § 78dd et sec . And who are the employers who signed on to buy the insurance? Are they State-owned entities, as so many are in countries like China or the U.A.E.? If so, you may have, by allowing your agent to wine and dine the potential clients executives and send them on trips to the United States, engaged in a violation of the FCPA. How about if the employer is an agency of the UK? Safe under the new UK Anti-Bribery Act?

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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