Tsk tsk tsk. Just when I thought I was only going to mention him in one blog post this year, I now have the opportunity to write another. Someone has to do it! Justin Bieber is back in the spotlight and this time it isn’t Bieber who committed the crime (shocking), but one of members in his so-called entourage.
According to The FCPA Blog, a supervisor at a Niagara Falls border crossing was fired after accepting a bribe of backstage passes to Justin Bieber’s shows, valued at around $10,000. The guard allegedly allowed two American members of Bieber’s entourage with criminal records to enter Canada, violating Canadian law. According to The Huffington Post, foreigners with criminal convictions can be turned away from Canada. However, Bieber, who is facing criminal charges, cannot be stopped from entering Canada because he is a Canadian citizen.
Bieber’s entourage not only violated Canadian law, but also potentially violated the U.S Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) since bribes by Americans to a Canadian official, in this case the border guard, are prohibited by the FCPA. . The FCPA prohibits corrupt payments to foreign officials for the purpose of obtaining or retaining business or gaining an unfair advantage.
In my previous blog post, I wrote that Justin Bieber was in need of some serious compliance training. With this recent story, it would be safe to say that he and his entourage could also use a lesson in anti bribery training and FCPA compliance.
I feel no sympathy for the Canadian guard, and not just because I’m not a Belieber. I can understand how bribery policies and laws can have a grey area. I use this example a lot, but it really drives this point home: imagine you are on a business trip to a foreign country and a foreign official wants to take you out to dinner as a welcome to their country. If you accept, this could potentially be seen as taking a bribe, even though it would be impolite, perhaps even offensive, if you refuse.
In the Bieber’s case, the guard accepted a bribe worth $10,000 that allowed criminals into his country – violating the laws of a country he was sworn to protect. I would like to think that a border patrol guard is well versed on the laws of the country and would know better than to allow convicted criminals across the border. Luckily, it was only one guard who was so susceptible – Bieber’s crew tried to get similar treatment several weeks after the first crossing, and the guards immediately reported the incident without allowing them to enter..
As I continued reading, I found out those individuals who are convicted of violating the anti bribery provisions of the FCPA can be jailed for up to five years. I’m also really curious as to what the punishments will be for Bieber’s team members – will they be found in violation of the FCPA and serve jail time, or will they be able to buy their way out? What about the guard – she’s already lost her job, but will she face further charges for violating Canadian law, first for accepting a bribe as a foreign official, and second for allowing criminals into the country? She could also potentially serve jail time. Were the backstage passes really worth it? I would like to think not.
Anti Bribery Training To The Rescue
The HuffPost article does mention that the Niagara Falls border agency’s chief circulated an internal memo reminding officers not to take bribes and to report anyone who does.
A memo? That’s it? That’s the million dollar idea to prevent bribery cases like this from happening again? I have to disagree. A memo may not clearly communicate, in a memorable way, the consequences of accepting a bribe. Also, if the bribe is not in the form of cash money, like in this case’s backstage passes, perhaps the guard wasn’t clear on whether or not it was still a bribe.
While a memo might be a short term solution to the problem, the only way to really drive the message home is to provide anti bribery training. Regardless if the guard received it on the first day of employment are not, it is important to train and retrain your employees on the complex bribery policies and laws we have today, as well as all the nuances of what constitutes a bribe and what the consequences may be. The Network provides an Anti Bribery Checklist that helps organizations implement an effective anti bribery program using our three-phased Protect, Detect, Correct methodology. We also provide interactive training courses to really drive this message home.
Anti Bribery Training can also help clarify the grey area I mentioned before. While your employees may not be the ones accepting $10,000 in backstage passes in exchange for allowing criminals into the country, they can still be subject to other bribery scenarios. Say your company wants to do business with another department and the head of your department offers one of their employees two tickets to the VIP box at a football game. This act is unacceptable and violates bribery laws. Our anti bribery training can be customized with scenarios that your employees are likely to face, making the training more relatable and instantly applicable.
These incidents and more can be addressed in an effective anti bribery training program. Do me a favor and don’t let your company get involved in FCPA or bribery-related violations. You could end up on this list: the FCPA blog lists companies that have paid over $156.5 million in criminal fines and about $80 million in civil disgorgement, interest and penalties, all because one of their employees violated the FCPA. Don’t let yours be one of them.