Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

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Course Outline

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  • The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977, as amended, 15 U.S.C. §§ 78dd-1, et seq. ("FCPA")

  • ?15 U.S.C. § 78m


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60 min

Learning Objectives

  • Summarize what the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) is about.

  • Define “bribery,” as outlined by the FCPA.

  • List some of the private persons considered to be government employees by the FCPA.

  • Describe the role of the board of directors as it pertains to internal accounting controls.

  • Identify some of the “red flags” that demand further scrutiny

  • Outline what provisions consultancy agreements should include.

  • Discuss “willful ignorance”

  • Summarize the Books and Records and Internal Control provisions of the FCPA.- List the four recommended internal accounting controls.

  • Identify what accounting policies should address.

  • Summarize the “grease” exception to anti-bribery provisions.

  • Define “routine governmental actions” and outline what these actions cover.

Lesson Description

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), enacted in 1977, generally prohibits the payment of bribes to foreign officials to assist in obtaining or retaining business. The FCPA can apply to prohibited conduct anywhere in the world and extends to publicly traded companies and their officers, directors, employees, stockholders, and agents. Agents can include third party agents, consultants, distributors, joint-venture partners, and others.


The FCPA also requires issuers to maintain accurate books and records and have a system of internal controls sufficient to, among other things, provide reasonable assurances that transactions are executed and assets are accessed and accounted for in accordance with management's authorization.


The sanctions for FCPA violations can be significant. The SEC may bring civil enforcement actions against issuers and their officers, directors, employees, stockholders, and agents for violations of the anti-bribery or accounting provisions of the FCPA. Companies and individuals that have committed violations of the FCPA may have to disgorge their ill-gotten gains plus pay prejudgment interest and substantial civil penalties. Companies may also be subject to oversight by an independent consultant.


The SEC and the Department of Justice are jointly responsible for enforcing the FCPA. The SEC's Enforcement Division has created a specialized unit to further enhance its enforcement of the FCPA.


In this module you will:


  • be introduced to the key provisions and rules behind FCPA,

  • learn the definition of bribery, as outlined by the FCPA,

  • learn about the importance of transparent accounting,

  • learn the FCPA's definition of a government official (in some cases, it's not as clear cut as you may think),

  • better understand the concepts of compliance, due diligence, and oversight as it pertains to complying with FCPA,

  • be introduced to the Books and Records and Internal Control Provisions of the FCPA,

  • learn about recommended internal accounting controls and the importance of accounting policies, and

  • hear real-life scenarios about cases found in violation of the FCPA.

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