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The Impact of Anti-Corruption Statutes on Global Business Transactions

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The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) is an important United States anticorruption statute which can levy significant criminal and/or civil penalties on American exporters and related companies which are conducting business overseas. It is a serious mistake to ignore its provisions. Companies or individuals doing business globally must understand the potential impact the FCPA can have on their employees (including officers and directors) as well as foreign agents, distributors and overseas workers. The FCPA also has jurisdiction over a U.S.-based company’s wholly-owned foreign subsidiaries and joint ventures outside the U.S. Foreign corporations doing business in the U.S. are similarly subject to the FCPA. Both the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) aggressively pursue enforcement of the FCPA’s provisions, so ongoing compliance must be a top-level priority for all entities and individuals involved in activities where the statute could come into play. The High Price of Ignoring Anti-Corruption Statutes: On Wednesday, October 21, the lead headline on the front page of the Wall Street Journal was “Goldman To Settle 1MDB Inquiry with DOJ”. The article describes an agreement by Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. to pay roughly $2.8 billion USD in connection with a bribery probe related to 1MDB. According to the report, the Goldman Sachs Group admitted to wrongdoing in the probe. This settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice concludes a five-year investigation into Goldman’s involvement with the Malaysian government fund known as 1MDB. In addition to paying $2.8 billion USD to settle various claims against it by the U.S. government, Goldman, again according to published reports, will also reimburse the Malaysian government in the amount of $2.5 billion USD. The charges arose due to the conduct of a Goldman subsidiary in Asia, which allegedly included payments to certain Malaysian government officials along with “gifts of jewelry”. The matter is ongoing as one individual is awaiting trial. The point here is to emphasize how improper activities can have an outsized impact on even large companies.

Recorded at Business Law Institute in November 2020.
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Dennis Unkovic Esq. Meyer Unkovic & Scott LLP
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