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Solving an FCPA Ethical Dilemma

Patricia Harned | July 15, 2008

The following letter is in regard to the ethical dilemma of doing right vs. being right:

Dr. Harned,

I recently attended a conference on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and heard the following ethical dilemma. A fellow compliance officer recounted how one of his company’s business-unit presidents, in a former Soviet Bloc nation, wanted to bid on a government contract. His choice came down to this: pay a $30,000 bribe, or lose the contract and lay off 2,000 employees.

This situation disturbs me deeply. At both this person’s company and my own, frankly, nobody at corporate headquarters would even notice $30,000 or 2,000 layoffs—we are both global powerhouses. And while I have no problem resigning on principle or firing a corrupt manager, neither of us would really be affected either; the people paying the price for our obedience to the FCPA are 2,000 poor families, desperate for the good...

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