Litigation: Comparing the cross-border reach of the FCPA and the UK Bribery Act

Both laws are far-reaching, in different ways

Foreign-reaching enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act’s (FCPA) prohibitions on corrupt payments to foreign officials is alive and well. The prohibitions are intended to induce the recipient to wrongfully obtain or retain business for or with, or to direct business to, any person. The language of the United Kingdom’s Bribery Act, which recently celebrated its one-year anniversary, potentially makes the cross-border reach of the new law even greater than the FCPA in certain respects. However, there have been a limited number of cases resolved thereunder and there is much uncertainty regarding exactly how far U.K. law enforcement authorities can and will reach.

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

The U.K. Bribery Act

The Bribery Act, enacted in the United Kingdom in April 2010, came into force on July 1. After a year on the books, few cases have been brought or resolved under the law. Similar to the FCPA, the anti-bribery provisions apply to U.K. companies, citizens and residents, regardless of where the bribery occurred. They also apply to individuals and companies, irrespective of nationality, when the violations occurred within the U.K. Unlike the FCPA, listing securities on a U.K. exchange or the transmission of a single wire in furtherance of a corrupt payment is not enough alone to subject a company to the jurisdiction of the Bribery Act. However, by its terms and pursuant to the guidance issued by law enforcement and the banking trade association, the reach of the U.K. Bribery Act is even broader than that of the FCPA in certain other respects.

Contributing Author

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Nicole Sprinzen

Nicole Sprinzen is Senior Counsel in Akin Gump’s Washington, D.C. office. Her practice focuses on criminal defense and related civil litigation, as well as government...

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