Last Tuesday a U.S. House Judiciary panel announced the intent to rework existing FPCA legislation to be more business friendly, in an effort to better define bribery and corruption as a way to help companies know here the proverbial line in the sand is drawn. There has been a good bit of discussion and movement along these lines for some time (the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been lobbying for some time for FCPA amendments). An article on the Main Justice “Anti-Corruption” webpage described the law as a “huge risk for international companies” and says that, “the huge fines and soaring costs of corporate internal investigations have irked the U.S. business community, which argues the government’s aggressive enforcement regime is having a negative impact on American companies doing business in an increasingly globalized world.” One of the suggested changes to the FCPA is compliance defense for organizations that have instituted adequate controls against corruption, much like the “adequate procedures” stipulations of the UK Bribery Act.
With the UK Bribery Act about to take effect, many companies are actively pursuing these “adequate procedures.” Compliance Week and the Wall Street Journal each ran recent articles about how Lockheed Martin Corp. announced changes to its internal policies regarding compliance with anti-corruption laws. Lockheed Martin looked to remain “updated and globalized” and aligned with the new rules legislated under the UK Bribery Act, which they see as a step beyond the FCPA regs.
Legal wranglings and any “which-comes-first” arguments aside, FPCA / UK Bribery provisions have stepped into the squared circle to do battle against corruption, both foreign and domestic. Queue the theme from “Rocky,” because progressive, ethically-centered businesses will remain standing at the end of each and every round. Using internal compliance controls as “adequate measures” will enable companies to consistently answer the bell whether they are working within FCPA or UK Bribery limitations. Be it net-new or amended legislation, global businesses can leverage their ethics programs to go toe to toe with that line in the sand known as risk.