Tuesday, August 11, 2009

FCPA Update: Instrumentalities, and separately, Inadvertent Consequences

(I am preparing a post about the recent uproar over flash trading, so please forgive me if this morning I write mini-posts about issues on my radar - thanks!).

First, Law.com ran an interesting article yesterday about how American businesses can navigate the changing role of foreign officials and instrumentalities in light of the current economic crisis (where a foreign official is any person acting in an official capacity over an, inter alia, instrumentality of the government). The crux of the issue: precedent is a poor guide as to what degree of control an official must have over an organization before that organization becomes an "instrumentality." A variety of governments have recently participated in different forms of stimulus and aid to buttress their countries' businesses. The result is a wide variety of degrees and forms of government involvement. Bottomline: good luck American business seeking FCPA compliance. Authors Stephanie Meltzer and Christopher Tierney.

Also of interest: weeks ago I had come across a Fulbright Scholar who had written a research document that received positive feedback at the FCPA Blog. Then I read about him again in the WSJ; and then again last night on the Glom. Those scrutinizing his work are quite interested in his position, and it might be worth checking out. His argument is pretty straight-forward: an effective FCPA removes American investment in foreign markets, but does not achieve a higher ethical standard of business (no bribery). Rather, it allows broader access to that foreign market by foreign business actors to make the same - more? - bribery payments. The author is Andrew Spalding and the paper is available here.

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