Vol. LIV No. 1

Corporate Victims of “Victimless Crime”: How the FCPA’s Statutory Ambiguity, Coupled with Strict Liability, Hurts Businesses and Discourages Compliance

Abstract:  The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”), a federal law that outlaws corporate bribery of foreign officials, is the key legislation in the fight against global corruption. Unfortunately, despite the long-awaited guidance recently issued by the Department of Justice, the unpredictability and severity of FCPA enforcement, coupled with the lack of an affirmative defense in cases of adequate compliance, continues to take a substantial toll on U.S. businesses and the economy. This Note argues against strict corporate vicarious liability and evaluates the unintended effects of a broad interpretation of the FCPA on international business practices. Suggesting that current enforcement practices might actually reduce compliance, this Note evaluates several proposed solutions and advocates for a hybrid approach that would resolve the ambiguity and make compliance both feasible and economically viable.

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