Proposed Reforms to the FCPA: the Compliance Defense and Respondeat Superior

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In a Whitepaper entitled “Restoring Balance-Proposed Amendments to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act”, authors Andrew Wiessmann and Alixandra Smith, writing on behalf of the US Chamber Institute for Legal Reform who recently proposed amending the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), argue that the time is ripe to amend the FCPA to make the statute more equitable and its requirements clearer. They propose five (5) amendments to the FCPA which they argue would serve to improve the Act. This post will discuss, in greater specificity, their first proposal: to create a compliance defense available to a company if it has an adequate compliance program, similar to the “adequate procedures” defense available under the UK Bribery Act.

Under this suggestion the authors believe that companies will increase their compliance with the FCPA because they will now have a greater incentive to do so. They envision a defense similar to the “adequate procedures” defense available under the UK Bribery Act where companies will be protected if a rogue employee engages in corruption and bribery despite a company’s diligence in pursuing a FCPA compliance program; and lastly “it will give corporations some measure of protection from aggressive or misinformed prosecutors, who can exploit the power imbalance inherent in the current FCPA statute—which permits indictment of a corporation even for the acts of a single, low-level rogue employee—to force corporations into deferred prosecution agreements.”

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Published In: General Business Updates, Criminal Law Updates, International Trade Updates, Securities Updates, Mergers & Acquisitions Updates

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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