Let U.S. firms compete
The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act serves the important goal of discouraging bribery by U.S. companies overseas. But by making firms criminally responsible for even the most uncontrollable acts of low-level employees and agents—and ignoring any efforts to create a culture of ethics and compliance—many U.S. companies withdraw rather than face limitless exposure. As a result, less-scrupulous foreign competitors often step in, harming America’s economic vitality and, ironically, fueling the very misconduct the act was intended to reduce. The solution: make the act apply only to material misconduct and allow companies to assert a “best efforts” defense if they have effective compliance and ethics programs.