Left Defenseless

At a lavish Aspen, Colo., holiday party in 1997, luxury handbag mogul Frederic Bourke, Czech speculator Viktor Kozeny and former AIG executive David Pinkerton allegedly hatched an elaborate $450 million scheme to ensure privatization of and a controlling stake in Azerbaijan's state-run oil company.

Setting Boundaries

The FCPA provides a few exceptions and affirmative defenses. One such defense is the "lawful payments" defense, which provides that if a payment to a foreign official was legal under the law of the country in which it was made, then the person who paid the bribe is immune from prosecution under the FCPA.

Tougher Enforcement

The Bourke decision is indicative of a larger trend in FCPA enforcement and interpretation--courts and regulators are narrowing the defenses available to executives accused of corrupt conduct abroad and expanding the circumstances under which payments to foreign officials are made criminal (see "Expansive Reading").

Adele Nicholas

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