Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (CO-07) today introduced legislation that would enable individuals and companies to take legal action against corporate corruption. Current law only allows the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to bring enforcement actions under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).
The Foreign Business Bribery Prohibition Act (H.R. 1549) expands the FCPA to reduce fraud and corruption in the U.S. while leveling the playing field for U.S. companies abroad. By allowing private rights of action, U.S. companies are able to peer-enforce and hold domestic and foreign companies accountable.
“This legislation is more important than ever given the lack of clarity from the new administration and the new leadership at the DOJ and SEC,” said Perlmutter. “Since it’s unclear if FCPA enforcement will remain a priority, this bill will encourage U.S. and foreign companies to play by the rules or face the consequences.”
It is common in the developing world for businesses to bribe foreign officials for access. Congress passed the FCPA in 1977 prohibiting the use of bribes to foreign officials to get or keep business, and recent presidential administrations have made FCPA enforcement a major priority. In fact, last year alone, 27 companies paid $2.48 billion to resolve FCPA cases - the biggest enforcement year in history.
President Trump has criticized the FCPA saying, “It’s a horrible law and it should be changed.” Additionally, Jay Clayton - President Trump’s nominee to head the SEC - has argued for less onerous restrictions for U.S. and foreign companies with respect to the FCPA.
Perlmutter continued, “Corruption and bribery undermine the pillars of democracy and erode trust. The potential for lack of oversight for foreign corruption is a serious concern given President Trump, his family business, and his surrogates’ questionable business ties. President Trump has failed to meaningfully divest or sever ties with the Trump Organization, and his family continues to enrich themselves by seeking business deals all over the world. This presents conflicts of interest, but also potentially violates the FCPA and the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution. We must hold them and other bad actors accountable.”