The Law Firm of Piacentile, Stefanowski & Malherbe LLP

The Problem of Businesses Bribing Corrupt Foreign Officials, the FCPA, and How Whistleblowers Can Help the SEC and DOJ Enforce the FCPA to Create a Fairer Global Economy

Bribery is a problem that plagues businesses all over the world. When companies pay bribes to corrupt government officials in order to get ahead, it distorts the global economy and weakens competition. This issue is known as foreign bribery, and it is rampant in countries like China and Brazil. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) was created to combat this problem, but whistleblowers are essential to its success.

The Bribery of Foreign Government Officials and the FCPA

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) was enacted in 1977 to prevent American companies from bribing foreign officials. The FCPA prohibits companies and individuals from making payments to foreign officials for the purpose of securing business deals. Additionally, the FCPA requires companies to maintain accurate financial records and disclose any suspicious payments. The FCPA is enforced by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ). Companies that violate the FCPA can be subject to heavy fines and imprisonment.

The FCPA has both civil and criminal provisions. The civil provisions allow the Securities and Exchange Commission to bring a civil action against violations of the FCPA. The criminal provisions make it a crime to willful violate the FCPA. Violations of the FCPA can result in imprisonment and/or fines.

The FCPA was enacted in 1977 in response to revelations that many American companies were using bribery as a routine part of doing business overseas. The FCPA applies to all companies that have securities listed on a U.S. stock exchange, as well as any company that is incorporated in the United States. The FCPA has two main provisions: the antibribery provision and the accounting provision. The antibribery provision prohibits the offer, payment, or promise of payment of anything of value to a foreign official for the purpose of influencing official action. The accounting provision requires companies to maintain accurate books and records and to have adequate internal controls in place to prevent and detect bribery. Violations of the FCPA can result in criminal penalties, including imprisonment, as well as civil penalties, such as fines and disgorgement of ill-gotten gains. The Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission are responsible for enforcing the FCPA.

By prohibiting bribery, the FCPA gives honest companies a better chance of winning contracts. The FCPA also promotes transparency in business deals, making it more difficult for corrupt officials to hide illicit payments. As a result, the FCPA is an important tool for combating corruption around the world.

The FCPA Investigation Process

An FCPA investigation can be a lengthy and complicated process. The first step is usually to gather evidence. This may involve reviewing financial records, emails, and other business documents. Investigators may also interview employees, customers, and other witnesses. Once the evidence has been gathered, it will be analyzed to determine whether there is a violation of the FCPA. If there is enough evidence to support a claim of FCPA violations, the next step is to negotiate a settlement with the company under investigation. This settlement may include financial penalties and/or measures to prevent future violations. In some cases, individuals may also be charged with FCPA violations. If convicted, they may face fines and imprisonment.

If the DOJ finds evidence of a violation, it will open an investigation. The DOJ will gather evidence through interviews, document review, and undercover operations. It will then present its findings to a grand jury, which will decide whether to indict the company or individual. If indicted, the company or individual will be prosecuted in federal court.

The FCPA Whistleblower Program

Whistleblowers can provide information about FCPA violations to the SEC and DOJ, and they may be eligible for rewards if their tip leads to successful enforcement action.

The FCPA Whistleblower Program has been incredibly successful, and it has helped to level the playing field for businesses that compete fairly. The FCPA applies to the bribery of foreign government officials by companies and individuals who are based in the United States or who have securities listed on a U.S. stock exchange. The Act prohibits the payment of bribes to foreign officials for the purpose of obtaining or retaining business.

The problem of bribery in business is one that needs to be addressed globally. When businesses bribe corrupt government officials, it hurts those who compete fairly and distorts the economy.

Bribery is a serious problem that needs to be addressed in order to create a level playing field for all businesses. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act is a step in the right direction, but whistleblowers are essential to its success.


The FCPA Whistleblower Program has been successful in leveling the playing field for businesses, and it is hoped that other countries will follow suit. If you have information about the FCPA being violated that the government does not know about, contact us at Whistleblowers International. We may be able to help you secure an award for your information if it leads to successful enforcement action and the government recovers money from the wrongdoer.