Tales from the Wild: “You give me 30% and I’ll make sure our government partners get their share.”

cimg4154.jpg“You give me the 30% of the deal, and I’ll make sure our government partners get their share.”

Excuse me? You’ll do what?

If you work internationally, you will invariably find that people don’t understand the FCPA, and don’t understand what they are asking. I’ve heard it for matters as small as a “cup of tea” in Kenya and a “cup of coffee” in Albania.

I’ve also heard it in blunt and large terms as I quoted above from an actual conversation.Cover-NewToolsforFightingCorruptioninOrganizations

For cultural or other reasons they really do not see anything wrong with making sure the government officials get a piece of the action.

Equally invariably, strongly worded emails fail to get the idea across – you’ve got to look them in the eye and explain it until they understand.

Or you’ve got to walk away.

But most people will understand, eventually, if you explain the issue in painstaking detail, and they are convinced that you are serious, and not just pretending to be serious.

It may be their actual experience that foreign companies will pay the bribes, but the risks are high, and the evidence trail is fairly easy to follow if law enforcement becomes involved. It’s far better to walk away.

Brian Pinkowski

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2 Replies to “Tales from the Wild: “You give me 30% and I’ll make sure our government partners get their share.””

  1. I have a question. IF a Company appoints a genuine agent (I mean for real work and not as a facade to pay bribe) can we have success fee rate decided for the job. How will it be viewed by the regulators under FCPA / UK Bribery Act.

    1. The problem with this hypothetical is that it is easy to see as a farce. If the representative is charging fairly, the fees will look fair. If they are being used as a third party to pay bribes, it will certainly look that way and will be relatively obvious if an investigation occurs later. Ignorance of the representatives activities is not a long lived defense.
      Of course, things do happen that the company doesn’t know about. But they can usually be detected by ordinary audits at some point. When a company fails to carry out ordinary due diligence in audits, law enforcement and prosecutors make reasonable inferences.
      Organizing a defense against a Crown prosecution or a DOJ prosecution is very costly and affects the ability to do business for years. “Winning in court,” is often out of reach and many companies reach costly settlements.
      Choose your battles wisely.

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