What does the FCPA do?

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act is a federal law. It began in 1977 as a way to prevent business bribes with foreign officials. The goal was to manage the business playing field to keep things fair and competition alive.

According to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the FCPA applies to anyone anywhere as long as there is a publicly traded company involved in the situation. The FCPA has a range of rules and requirements that could put a business in violation.


A large part of the FCPA is to ensure records are orderly. Business records have to show transactions and provide proof there is nothing untoward happening. Through proper recordkeeping, the government can ensure all businesses operate on the same level without any influence that would make things unfair.


The FCPA helps keep order by imposing sanctions for businesses in violation. If a business owner or other employee does anything that would break the FCPA, the business can face very harsh sanctions that can cost it money and lead to issues with the future of the organization. If the governing agencies see fit, a business could have to have oversight from an outside group to ensure it continues doing fair business.

The FCPA overall helps ensure a business cannot get a leg up over the competition when doing business outside the U.S. It keeps an even playing field where a business cannot use bribery to get favors from foreign governments or other actors that would give it an advantage over other businesses trying to do business in that location.