Tag Archive for ‘Bribery’
The New York Times reported this week that Walmart allegedly engaged in a vast campaign of bribery to expand the company’s Mexico business in the early 2000s, potentially violating U.S. law. The scheme was allegedly overseen by a Walmart executive, Eduardo Castro-Wright, described by The Times as “the driving force behind years of bribery” totaling millions of dollars.
Even as anger over governmental corruption has exploded into protests across the Middle East, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been working to weaken the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a law that bans companies from bribing foreign officials.
The UK’s Bribery Act 2010, set to take effect in April, goes much further than the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which has been used aggressively by American prosecutors against multinational companies in bribery cases worldwide. Among other provisions, the new law creates a “failure to prevent bribery” offense which applies whether or not any conduct in the bribery scheme took place in the UK.
A Transparency International report found that while most export credit agencies have formal policies that prohibit support for bribe-tainted transactions, they do not require applicants to have management controls to deal with bribery and none have issued guidance to applicants describing elements of an appropriate anti-bribery program.
In a decision with far-reaching implications for the prosecution of corruption and fraud cases in the United States, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the federal government’s “honest services” law could be constitutionally applied only to cases involving bribery and kickbacks. The decision was a partial victory for two high-profile executives – Jeffrey Skilling, former CEO of Enron, and Conrad Black, former chairman of Hollinger International.
Only about one-third of the 38 countries that have agreed to prosecute foreign bribery cases under the Organization for Economic Development’s Anti-Bribery Convention have sanctioned individuals or companies since the Convention was adopted 10 years ago, according to a report issued by the OECD.
Attorney General Eric Holder said the prosecution of individuals “is accelerating” amidst continuing evidence of transnational bribery. “Let me be clear, prosecuting individuals is a cornerstone of our enforcement strategy because, as long as it (bribery) remains a tactic, paying large monetary penalties cannot be viewed by the business community as merely ‘the cost of doing business,’ ” he said.
The statute is an issue in three cases before the Supreme Court this term – involving former Enron chief executive Jeffrey Skilling, Hollinger International chairman Conrad Black and former Alaska lawmaker Bruce Weyhrauch – and it could have implications for hundreds of criminal cases involving public officials and business executives convicted or charged with fraud.
The development banks agreed that companies debarred for corruption by any one of them may be sanctioned for the same misconduct by other participating banks. Separately, an investor coalition representing firms with $1.7 trillion in assets under management has asked 21 major companies to improve disclosure of bribery and corruption risks and avoidance measures.
The legislation would require the Securities and Exchange Commission to award whistleblowers up to 30 percent of the fines collected by the government for providing “original information” regarding violations of securities laws. Based on some recent cases involving the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, payouts could be in the tens of millions of dollars.