FCPA: Regulators’ Expansive “Foreign Official” Definition Under Attack


For the last several years, federal regulators have enforced the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (the “FCPA”) with an unprecedented, aggressive approach. And, for the most part—rather than litigate companies and individuals alike have negotiated resolutions behind closed doors, leaving the regulators’ expansive interpretation of the FCPA unchallenged and untested in the courts. That is, until very recently.

A necessary element to prove a violation of the FCPA is that the intended recipient of the corrupt payment be a “foreign official.” There is little doubt that a person with an official position and corresponding title (i.e. Senator or Minister) fits within the statute. In enforcing the FCPA, however, federal regulators look beyond titles and take a nearly boundless view of who qualifies as a “foreign official.” The statute defines the term “foreign official” as...

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