The FTI Award Journal

Exclusive content from our experts on bribery, corruption, whistleblowers and corporate accountability.

What is the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act – FCPA?

Article by John Joy, Managing Attorney, FTI Law. 

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) is a U.S. law that prohibits bribery of foreign (non-U.S.) government employees.  If you think you have information on an FCPA violation, we suggest that you speak to an attorney immediately, as you may be entitled to a reward for reporting it. 

If you are trying to figure out if something is an FCPA violation, here are the three signals that will help you recognize a violation:

1. A Foreign Government Employee Is Involved

The FCPA prohibits bribery of (non-U.S.) government employees.  A government employee can be anyone that works for a foreign government.  This can include people of any profession; doctors, engineers, accountants, clerks or politicians.  It also includes people employed indirectly by the government, such as by a company owned by the government, or an organization controlled by the government.  

The following are some examples of people who would be considered a government employee: 

  • A doctor working in a hospital owned by the government 
  • A clerk issuing planning permits or licenses 
  • A teacher working in a school run by the government
  • A contractor working for a state-owned oil company.

2. Something Of Value Is Given or Promised  

The FCPA prohibits giving or promising “anything of value” to the government employee.  The term “anything of value” is very broad and includes cash, holidays, meals or entertainment for the government employee or their family.  It can also include more obscure benefits like promising to give jobs, internships, or charitable donations to the employee or their family. 

The following are some examples of items that can be considered something of value: 

  • Promising to give an internship to someone in their family
  • Giving a donation to a charity they work for
  • Using a distributor or contractor they have a connection with
  • Paying for travel to places where people usually vacation
  • Promising to fix a road in an area they live in.

3. Something Is Expected In Return 

The last piece of an FCPA violation is that the person giving something to the government employee expects to get something in return.  This is sometimes called a “quid pro quo”  (“this for that”).  Usually the person giving something to the government employee expects to get a business advantage in return, such as a contract, information on competitors, or inside information on a tender process.  

In one notable FCPA case we previously profiled, a company was trying to win a government contract.  During the negotiations, the company promised to give a job to one of the government employees they were negotiating with.  That case led to a large fine for the company and $28 million for the whistleblower who reported it

If you think you have information on an FCPA violation, you should speak with an attorney immediately, as you may be entitled to million-dollar reward for reporting it.  The first person to report the violation gets the award, so it’s important to move quickly before someone takes your award. 

How To Report FCPA Violations

Reporting FCPA violations to the wrong people or in the wrong way can have severe consequences for a whistleblower.  If you are considering becoming an FCPA whistleblower, follow our guide on how to report FCPA violations

What Is The FCPA?

Have you head of the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act at work?  In this guide we explain what is the FCPA and how you could claim a whistleblower award for reporting FCPA violations

How To Become A Crypto Whistleblower

Regulators are regulating fraud, crime and scams involving cryptocurrency.  If you have information on any of these topics, you could get a whistleblower reward for becoming a crypto whistleblower

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