The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) makes it illegal for U.S. companies to bribe foreign governments, political officials, or businesses in order to secure business. Individuals with knowledge of fraud or bribery committed by U.S. companies can receive up to 30% of money recovered by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) from the offending U.S. business. Both American and foreign whistleblowers are eligible to receive a reward from the SEC as part of of the SEC Whistleblower Act and the Dodd-Frank Act.
The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act applies to payments or bribes made to foreign officials like ministers, businessmen, and party politicians. Under the FCPA, payments, gifts and donations are illegal if they violate the laws of the country where business is being conducted.
The SEC does not make any distinctions about the amount of money or type of bribe given, only the intent to illicitly secure business with foreign officials. Violations of the FCPA are corrupt payments or anything of value willfully given to influence foreign officials in the dispersal of business contracts. Examples of corrupt payments used to influence foreign officials include:
Violators of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act can face jail time and severe fines. Over the past few decades, the SEC has levied millions of dollars in fines against corporations, businessmen, and politicians for bribing foreign officials for business and work contracts.
Three main categories of persons or entities are covered under the FCPA: (1) issuers, (2) domestic concerns, and (3) foreign nationals and entities acting inside the U.S.