17 January 2013 | Paul Snell
Where do you draw the line between some corporate hospitality and a bribe?
While UK buyers still wait for some case law that will hopefully shed light on the legal definition between the two, general guidance has been published in the US.
The US Department of Justice and the US Securities and Exchange Commission have jointly published a guide to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), the country’s tough anti-bribery legislation.
The two departments have hailed the publication as a landmark, suggesting there is no other area of the law where more information has been provided about enforcement and priorities.
As well as providing common sense, the advice is also worth noting as the FCPA has a global reach if there is a link to the US (the guidance includes advice on the jurisdiction of the Act).
On the subject of gifts, the guidance says items of nominal value, such as cab fares or promotional items, are unlikely to cause a problem.
But the more extravagant the gift, such as a sports car or a fur coat, “the more likely it was given with an improper purpose”.
But it also clarifies gift giving itself is not prohibited, just bribes. It also includes a selection of hypothetical situations that can be used to determine whether gifts or hospitality are appropriate.
In addition, there are details on when and why the authorities would investigate and bring charges. And, in turn, there is advice on how companies can co-operate and report instances of corruption.
There are also tips on how to establish an effective compliance system in a business, with details on how to obtain senior management commitment, codes of conduct, policies and procedures, oversight, risk assessment, training and incentives and disciplinary measures.
☛ A Resource Guide To The US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act