Since 1977, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act has been in effect in the United States. Like many laws, it has undergone some amendments over the years, such as in 1998, but the core and original intention of the act remains the same as when it was first enacted several decades ago. As explained by the United States Department of Justice, the FCPA aims to prevent an individual or a business from bribing a foreign official to receive some desired gain or advantage.
The FCPA outlines what it calls “issuers” and “domestic concerns” as targets of the FCPA. A “domestic concern” is a very broad term that essentially covers any company that has its primary place of business within the United States. In addition, a “domestic concern” may be an individual. Such individuals may be lawful residents of the U.S., U.S. nationals or U.S. citizens. This gives the law a wide reach.
When it comes to conducting business involving a foreign country, government or entity, it is not unreasonable for a person or a company to engage in negotiations. This reality can make it difficult at times to determine what may be deemed a reasonable and normal type of negotiation tactic and what may be alleged an illegal act of bribery under the provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The act does also outline specific provisions for accounting.