Key Steps to Establish an Effective Anti-Corruption Programme
Debra Kuper, Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, AGCO, USA
The 1960s and 1970s were transformative years for the US. The country was in the midst of a chaotic armed conflict overseas. Civil rights were causing turmoil on city streets. A political scandal resulted in the president‟s impeachment. The environment was under assault. Terrorism was on the rise globally, including at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. To top it off, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged more than 400 major US corporations with bribery. In the end, these companies admitted bribing foreign government officials, politicians and political parties to obtain or retain business. Shortly thereafter, the US Congress enacted the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 (FCPA).
The FCPA was intended to make it unlawful for US persons and certain foreign issuers of securities to make payments to foreign government officials for the purpose of obtaining or retaining business. Later, the FCPA would be amended to apply to foreign firms and persons who cause, directly or indirectly through their agents, corrupt payments within the US.
The hope was that the FCPA would restore public confidence in the integrity of the US business system. This objective was not limited to US markets; by 1997, the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) had obtained the signatures of the US and 33 other countries for the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions.
The FCPA consists of two major provisions: one that addresses the bribery of foreign officials and one that imposes accounting and internal accounting control requirements on corporations. This paper focuses on the latter.
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