Congress Unveils New Bipartisan Bill to Fight Foreign Bribery

U.S. Must Update Anti-Bribery Laws for the 21st Century

A statement from the U.S. office of Transparency International
November 2, 2021


Today, Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D‑RI) and Thom Tillis (R‑NC) intro­duced the Foreign Extortion Prevention Act (“FEPA”). The bill would make it a crime for a for­eign offi­cial to demand or accept a bribe from a U.S. com­pa­ny, or to demand or accept any bribe that sub­stan­tial­ly impacts U.S. com­merce. Along with our office, FEPA is sup­port­ed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Greenpeace USA, and a broad coali­tion of civ­il soci­ety orga­ni­za­tions work­ing to pro­mote trans­paren­cy and account­abil­i­ty in government.

To coin­cide with the intro­duc­tion of FEPA, the U.S. office of Transparency International (“TI-US”) has pub­lished a white paper that ana­lyzes the legal frame­work for apply­ing U.S. crim­i­nal laws over­seas and that illus­trates how FEPA is enforce­able as both a mat­ter of law and prac­tice. TI-US has also pub­lished reac­tions to and com­men­tary on FEPA from lead­ing U.S. anti­cor­rup­tion experts and from Transparency International chap­ters in Honduras, Malaysia, Venezuela, and Moldova.

Scott Greytak, Director of Advocacy for TI-US, said the fol­low­ing on the intro­duc­tion of the bill:

This bill is a “triple bot­tom line”—it’s good for peo­ple who have suf­fered from the harms of cor­rup­tion, good for American busi­ness, and good for the envi­ron­ment. FEPA will help crack down on cor­rupt for­eign offi­cials, pro­tect U.S. busi­ness­es work­ing abroad, and pre­vent envi­ron­men­tal decline.

Current U.S. law makes it a crime for an American com­pa­ny to offer or give a bribe to a for­eign offi­cial yet does noth­ing to pre­vent or pun­ish the for­eign offi­cial who demands or accepts such a bribe. When cor­rupt offi­cials face no threat of U.S. pros­e­cu­tion, while U.S. com­pa­nies face seri­ous crim­i­nal lia­bil­i­ty for their involve­ment in bribery schemes, we’re left with incom­plete jus­tice. It’s time for the United States to impose a cost on cor­rupt for­eign offi­cials who demand bribes.

At the same time, for­eign bribery is also a key dri­ver of envi­ron­men­tal damage—accelerating defor­esta­tion, and pro­vid­ing impuni­ty to those who turn a blind eye to ille­gal min­ing, log­ging, or poach­ing of wildlife. The result is a loss of pre­cious pub­lic funds that could be used to finance respons­es to cli­mate change.

This bill would go a long way toward bring­ing the U.S.’s anti­cor­rup­tion laws into the 21st cen­tu­ry and in line with dozens of oth­er coun­tries that already have sim­i­lar laws in place, includ­ing the United Kingdom, Germany, and France. With aggres­sive enforce­ment from the U.S. Department of Justice, FEPA can serve as a pow­er­ful new tool for lev­el­ing the glob­al play­ing field for U.S. busi­ness­es, pro­vide envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tions at a crit­i­cal time for our cli­mate, and counter the litany of addi­tion­al harms caused by for­eign corruption.

We thank Senators Whitehouse and Tillis for their lead­er­ship and urge Congress to pass the bill quickly.

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Transparency International is the world’s largest coali­tion against cor­rup­tion. We give voic­es to vic­tims and wit­ness­es of cor­rup­tion, and work with gov­ern­ments, busi­ness­es, and cit­i­zens to stop the abuse of entrust­ed pow­er. In col­lab­o­ra­tion with nation­al chap­ters in more than 100 coun­tries, we are lead­ing the fight to turn our vision of a world free from cor­rup­tion into reality.

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Media Contact

Scott Greytak, Director of Advocacy, Transparency International U.S. Office
Telephone: +1 614–668-0258
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @TransparencyUSA

Original source: Transparency International U.S.