The attacks in Paris and subsequent events have horrified any right-minded person. The slaughter of innocent civilians sickened the world and the outpouring of support for the city of Paris, the country of France and the French people has been universal. Yet one of the things that I thought about in the aftermath is the intersection of corruption and terrorism.
While there is not the same intersection as was apparent in the Nairobi mall massacre last year, the EU open border policy and its bank notoriously loose money laundering regimes and enforcement could certainly have contributed to some of the underlying factors leading to the attack. I am sure there will be aggressive and robust responses from governments across the globe.
Yet in our compliance community, we can respond as well. I often say that anti-corruption compliance is a business response to the legal requirements of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). Moreover, the FCPA was passed, in part as a foreign policy statement by the US government against the invidiousness of corruption.
The Preamble to the FCPA gives three reasons for the passage of the Act. First, the public revelation that over 400 U.S. companies had paid over $300 million to bribe foreign governments, which Congress noted was not only “unethical” but also “counter to the moral expectations and values of the American public.” Second was the revelation that bribery tended “to embarrass friendly governments, lower the esteem for the United States among the citizens of foreign nations, and lend credence to the suspicions sown by foreign opponents of the United States that American enterprises exert a corrupting influence on the political processes of their nations.” Third was the idea, testified to by corporate leaders, that the FCPA would help U.S. companies resist demands to pay bribes made by corrupt foreign governments, their agents and representatives.
Compliance with the FCPA, the UK Bribery Act or any other anti-corruption law helps further the general goals which led to the passage of the FCPA. But compliance with such laws also helps in the worldwide fight against terrorism. I still believe that compliance is a business solution to a legal problem. Yet this also means US businesses have a responsibility to do business in a manner which does not foster corruption. One of the lessons from Paris is that we all play a role in the fight against terrorism. I would urge that we all play a role in the fight against corruption as well. Compliance with the FCPA is not just a legal mandate but it is good for business. Now it can help in the fight against terrorism.
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