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The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) was passed in 1977 and makes it unlawful to pay foreign government officials in an effort to influence them in their official capacities. The FCPA prohibits a wide range of activities, some of which a person may not even know are unlawful until they are faced with criminal charges. If you have been accused of violating the FCPA, it is critical to seek the advice of a white collar crime lawyer who is well-versed in both state and federal law and will aggressively represent your interests.

Influencing a Foreign Official

One of the most important provisions of the FCPA prohibits using the mails to make an offer, provide payment, give a promise to pay, or authorize payment of funds or any other item of value to another person. However, this prohibition only applies to those who know that the money will be offered, promised, or given to a foreign official in order to:

  • Influence that individual in his or her official capacity;
  • Induce him or her to do or fail to do something in violation of that person’s duty; or
  • Secure an improper advantage in an effort to obtain business for or with any individual.

These restrictions apply to all U.S. residents, as well as foreign securities issuers. However, since 1998, the law has extended to also cover foreign firms and individuals who cause, whether directly or through the use of agents, an act to help further a corrupt payment within U.S. territory.

According to the terms of the FCPA, businesses that are convicted of violating these anti-bribery provisions can be fined up to $2 million, while individuals, such as agents, officers, and directors, can be required to pay fines of up to $250,000 and face as many as five years in prison.

Accounting Requirements

To help ensure that U.S. companies do not run afoul of this law, the federal government requires businesses with listed securities to meet specific accounting obligations. This includes a requirement that corporations:

  • Make and retain records and books that accurately reflect the company’s transactions; and
  • Create and maintain a system of internal accounting controls.

Under federal law, knowingly failing to implement this type of system or to retain these kinds of records is unlawful. In fact, federal courts can fine companies up to $25 million for each accounting-related violation and individuals up to $5 million each. Those who are convicted may also be required to spend up to 20 years in prison.

Call us Today to Discuss Your Case With a Miami White Collar Crime Attorney

Being charged with violating the FCPA can have devastating financial and personal consequences for defendants, so those who are being investigated for violating this federal law should retain an experienced attorney who can help them craft a solid defense. To learn more about what these kinds of charges entail, feel free to contact the Miami white collar crime legal team at Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A., Criminal Defense Attorneys by calling (305) 670-9919 today.


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