In written responses released earlier this week, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama reaffirmed that he will enforce the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the International Anti-Bribery Act of 1988 if he is confirmed as US Attorney General. Sen. Sessions was responding to the questions of Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and others, following Sen. Session’s nomination hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Sen. Whitehouse’s question focused on a comment by President Trump during a 2012 interview in which President Trump referred to the FCPA as a “terrible law.” [Editor’s note, President Trump refered to the FCPA as a “horrible law,” not a “terrible law,” during the 2012 interview]. Sen. Whitehouse asked:
13) President Trump has called the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act a “terrible law.” But the Act, as amended by the International Anti-Bribery Act of 1998, is the cornerstone of federal efforts to prevent and prosecute bribery of foreign officials by U.S. corporations, and to maintain a fair and level playing field for small and mid-size corporations doing business overseas. Since 2008, the federal government—DOJ, SEC, and the FBI—have maintained about 150 active investigations at any given time, resulting in $1.56 billion in fines in 2014.
Will you commit to continued vigorous enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the International Anti-Bribery Act of 1998?
Sen. Sessions responded:
Yes, if confirmed as Attorney General, I will enforce all federal laws, including the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the International Anti-Bribery Act of 1998, as appropriate based on the facts and circumstances of each case.
One must take Sen. Sessions at his word and assume that the FCPA and Anti-Bribery Act will enforced to the letter of the law until there is an indication of a shift of DOJ priorities to the contrary. As always, training and compliance programs remain the as a critical foundation for any company doing business abroad.