SEC clarifies foreign corrupt practices

The SEC has now published a formal guide to what constitutes bribery under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”).  Why is that important for whistleblowers? Because the new SEC whistleblower program, established last year, allows those who come forward with enforcement information to share in any penalty imposed.   The SEC enforces, among other things, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.  So, if you know of a publicly traded company making suspect payments to foreign officials, you may be rewarded for bringing that to the attention of the SEC.

So who is a “foreign official”? Employees of companies that are majority owned or controlled by foreign governments, that is to say the definition goes beyond the obvious like ministers of state or political appointees.  The SEC has also clarified that items of nominal value such as cab fare, reasonable meals and entertainment are unlikely to result in enforcement action.

The report is available here http://www.sec.gov/spotlight/fcpa.shtml

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