The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

In response to a Watergate-era corporate culture in which U.S.-based companies routinely bribed foreign government officials to gain business advantages, President Carter in 1977 signed the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act ("FCPA"). The FCPA criminalized most payments from companies based or traded in the United States to anyone working directly or indirectly for a foreign government.

Although the Act's title offers no hint of its other main purpose, the FCPA also establishes internal controls and accounting standards for covered companies. These provisions, which were intended to promote financial transparency, require companies to maintain "books, records, and accounts" that "accurately and fairly reflect the transactions and dispositions" of the company's assets "in reasonable detail." Because they are more easily proven than bribery charges, violations of the Act's internal-controls provisions and accounting provisions generate far more prosecutions than do its anti-bribery provisions.

While the FCPA does not itself provide protection to whistleblowers, persons who provide the Securities and Exchange Commission with "original information" showing apparent FCPA violations are eligible for monetary rewards and protection from retaliation under other federal statutes. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act, for example, offers protection to employees of public companies who disclose FCPA violations. And under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, qualifying whistleblowers not only receive protection from employer retaliation, but are also eligible to collect between 10 and 30 percent of the government's recovery from the violating company-provided the government decides to prosecute the case and the total recovery exceeds $1 million.

Thinking about blowing the whistle?

Reporting suspected violations of the FCPA, or for that matter any employer misdeeds, is never an easy decision. After all, both your job and your reputation are at stake. But certain federal laws designed to weed out corporate corruption can make your decision a little easier. The FCPA, Sarbanes-Oxley, and Dodd-Frank could not achieve their desired purpose if there were "nothing in it" for those who blow the whistle. The anti-retaliation protections these laws afford-and the prospect of monetary recoveries-make the decision to blow the whistle somewhat more palatable and less intimidating.

Lawyers at The Chandra Law Firm LLC have successfully represented numerous employee whistleblowers. Founder and managing partner Subodh Chandra, a former federal prosecutor and City of Cleveland Law Director, heads up the firm's employment practice and knows exactly how to leverage an employee's desire to "do the right thing" to his or her maximize benefit.

We are also prepared to represent those under investigation for or charged with Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations.

You can reach our firm, which serves clients throughout Ohio, by calling 216-578-1700 or by filling out our online contact form.