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McNeil Global Law can help your company comply, potentially avoiding or reducing criminal liability. See compliance section below.

Antibribery laws can probably be found in most countries.  Many deal with bribery or attempted bribery of government officials within the respective countries' own borders.  In fact, as late as the 1990s it was common for countries to permit a tax write-off for bribery of foreign officials in a business context, even while dealing harshly with bribery on their home ground.   With a slow beginning in the 1970s in the U.S., and a gradual extension through diplomacy and international organizations, the concept of prohibiting bribery of government officials of foreign countries became more widely accepted and enforced.  Now most of the EU countries have laws somewhat similar to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), and some countries around the world have implemented laws that are arguably stronger and of considerably broader reach. 

An example of the former is China, which has harsher penalties and a brighter line of distinction between harmless gift and bribery.  An example of the latter is the law in the UK, which has been represented by UK officials as extending the national jurisdiction for foreign bribery not only to acts committed by UK companies but also to acts committed by foreign companies and individuals who have some connection, even rather tenuous, with the UK. The antibribery portion of the FCPA prohibits corruptly promising or paying anything of value, directly or indirectly, to a foreign official in order to obtain or retain business or secure an unfair advantage either for the paying organization or for a third party. "Corruptly," "anything of value," "directly or indirectly," "foreign official," and "unfair advantage" have all been misunderstood or ignored by companies and individuals, to their detriment.  For example, a sales agent's commission or a distributor's margin can be considered an indirect payment, if the U.S. seller knows or, in some cases, should know, that some of the commission or margin is going to be used for improper purposes.  Also, a "foreign official" can be not just a government minister, but even an employee of a government-owned enterprise, or a member of a multinational organization such as the UN or NATO.   

A second, sometimes under-reported part of the FCPA is the requirement that "issuers" (publicly held companies, issuers under the securities laws) maintain audit systems and keep adequate books and records to show clearly the transactions in their business dealings and the disposition of their assets.  The clearest example of the type of transparency required is:  if a company illegally bribes a foreign official in order to acquire business, the books must reflect not a loosely described expenditure from a general fund but a bribe given in order to acquire business.  To fail to present the matter with adequate clarity is a violation of the portion of the FCPA enforced by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the penalties for such violations are much worse than those for bribery.  

In recent years the U.S. Department of Justice has announced that it will more vigorously enforce the FCPA, and the past three years have seen a significant number of announcements of arrests, prosecutions, or settlements due to FCPA violations.  Penalties have almost always been very substantial and have often involved fines or incarceration of individuals.  It is noteworthy that individuals' fines cannot be reimbursed by their companies.  The SEC has periodically made similar announcements of tighter enforcement.  

As the Department of Justice has announced its intention of cracking down further on violators of the FCPA, it has also announced that it will act with greater leniency with respect to companies that have implemented serious compliance plans.  It will consider such factors as whether the company has a compliance plan, whether the company gives the plan serious attention and resources rather than lip service, whether training and audit efforts have been adequate and ongoing, and whether outside consultants have been consulted as backup where appropriate.  The SEC has taken the same approach.  Basic penalties can be (and have been) as high as several years in prison and millions of dollars of fines per violation, and  "disgorgement" of profits from illegal activities has driven total financial penalties into the hundreds of millions of dollars in some instances.  On the other hand, a Minnesota company a few years ago had a compliance plan in place, took the plan seriously, found a series of violations itself through its audit program, and brought the violations to the attention of the U.S. government.  Its total fines amounted to about $2 million, instead of $2 million per violation.