Don’t Claim it is Legal to Bribe Another Government’s Representatives – Especially in China

Last week a guest blog post in the FCPA Blog by Ernesto Sanchez, entitled “What’s good for reciprocity may be bad for FCPA prosecutions”, implied that the US District Court’s ruling when it “vacated an SEC Dodd-Frank rule mandating that certain companies publicly disclose payments made to foreign governments in connection with the commercial development of oil, natural gas, or minerals” would have some effect on the enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). In his penultimate paragraph Sanchez said, “The SEC may have wanted to mandate certain corporate disclosures to, among other things, ensure greater FCPA compliance in the U.S. energy sector. But what happens when other countries have no FCPA equivalent and view the matter of disclosure quite differently?”

Let me put the answer to that question as succinctly as I can do so. THERE IS NO COUNTRY IN THE WORLD WHICH LEGALLY ALLOWS BRIBERY OF ITS GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS. None, period, end of statement, and end of discussion. Even if countries appear to tolerate it informally, there is no country which has a law which says that it is OK to bribe our government officials.

This message was driven home even more strongly last week with the news from China that the Chinese government had found evidence that the UK pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline PLC (GSK) was involved in bribery and corruption of Chinese doctors. An article in the Financial Times (FT), entitled “China accuses GSK of bribery” by Kathrin Hille and John Aglionby, reported that “China has accused GlaxoSmithKline of being at the centre of a “huge” scheme to raise drug prices in three of the country’s biggest cities and said the UK-based drugmaker’s staff had confessed to bribing government officials and doctors ...

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