One of the false positives you hear from those who want to “reform” the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which in reality means weaken or even gut it, is that it is the fault of “those people” in corrupt countries that have their hands out. It is generally along the lines that the only way to do business is to grease the palms of everyone involved. In these reformers’ next step of logic, they opine that U.S. corporations that engage in bribery and corruption are simply doing what is expected in countries outside the United States.
Such inane arguments show complete lack of understanding that the FCPA is a supply-side law that focuses on the conduct of U.S. corporations and not bribe takers. The U.S. government views enforcement of the FCPA as a vehicle in the U.S. fight against the worldwide scourge of corruption. Yet, it’s gratifying when countries with a perception of corruption take concrete steps to begin their own internal battle with corruption.
A recent example of this was laid out in a New York Times article, Warrant for Vanished Ex-Official is seen as a step in Mexico’s graft fight. It centered on the warrant for arrest issued to the Governor of the Mexican province of Veracruz, Javier Duarte, for looting of the treasury. One eye-catching quote came from Juan Pardinas, director general at the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness, who said, “Corruption has started to have a political cost. The discussion has already changed the luck of these people.”
When the fight against corruption becomes a political issue in a country is when changes begin to occur. They are occurring in Mexico, as the country has passed national anti-corruption laws and even an FCPA-type law. Recognizing that the proof will be in the pudding, it is not yet clear if the Duarte indictment is a turning point or a false start. The Man From FCPA certainly hopes it is the former.