Minimizing the Menace of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

In the second half of the twentieth century, the United States decided to crack down on foreign corruption as part of its attempt to stop the spread of communism abroad. Pursuant to this goal, Congress passed the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), which generally prohibits American corporations from bribing foreign officials.This Note examines the various problems associated with the FCPA: the disadvantages created by the FCPA’s creation of an uneven playing field for American corporations, the inherent ambiguity of the FCPA’s language, and the subsequent excessive compliance costs created for U.S. corporations operating abroad. In addition, this Note addresses the United States’ uneven enforcement of the FCPA, and the Act’s effect in foreign countries where certain forms of “bribery” are considered the price of doing business. In light of the problems created by the FCPA for both U.S. corporations and the foreign countries in which they operate, this Note ultimately recommends that the ambiguous bribery provisions of the FCPA should be clarified or repealed entirely and the problem of corruption in foreign countries reassessed.

The full text of this Note is available to download as a PDF.