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When They Bribe On Your Behalf

If you compete for business overseas or across the border, take note of these best practices for using third-party brokers, vendors, or consultants to help you. You may not know what they’re up to over there, but that can land you in some hot water.

As we’ve written before, the threat of prosecution under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act is real, and the reality is you or your business may be liable for a consultant’s corrupt practices even if you didn’t know about them. While these authors speak to automotive companies in particular, they offer sound advice for any transnational business, large or small.

So watch out for the following signs, among others, that your consultant is greasing someone’s palm to win you business.

  • It charges excessive commissions
  • It offers unreasonably large discounts
  • It describes its consulting services in vague terms
  • It is related or closely tied to government officials
  • It requests payments to offshore bank accounts

And if you spot these red flags, or even if you don’t, you should proactively take the following steps, among others, to minimize the risk of misunderstandings.

  • Investigate the third party and its principals
  • Conduct background checks of its personnel as necessary
  • Require the party to conduct FCPA training and to certify that it’s been done
  • Work with counsel to assess your potential risks and design compliance programs
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