Bribery continues to be a major legal and ethical problem for U.S. businesses operating in overseas markets. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which criminalizes bribery of foreign officials in order to access foreign markets, can have very severe penalties for U.S. firms whose employees or overseas agents are caught committing (or attempting to commit) bribery.

An article found at news.yahoo.com by Reuters reports on a recent case that highlights this problem…

Florida-based defense company IAP Worldwide Services Inc will pay $7.1 million to settle a U.S. investigation into an alleged conspiracy to bribe Kuwaiti officials to win a government contract, the U.S. Justice Department said on Tuesday.

A former vice president of IAP, James Michael Rama, 69, of Lynchburg, Virginia, also pleaded guilty earlier on Tuesday in a Virginia federal court to participating in the illegal scheme, prosecutors said in a statement.

A lawyer for Rama was not immediately identifiable.

According to prosecutors, in February 2006 senior executives at IAP, including Rama, set up a shell company called Ramaco to compete in the first phase of a bid to provide surveillance capabilities, including closed-circuit television, to Kuwait’s Ministry of the Interior.

Read the entire article here…

There are many ways that firms operating in the global marketplace can protect themselves from exposure to this kind of liability or minimize their liability if one of their agents violates the law. A comprehensive due diligence investigation of any new overseas vendors or agents can significantly reduce the risk by eliminating those vendors with checkered histories or serious conflicts of interests. Secondly, once concerns are raised that a company’s representatives may have bribed, or attempted to bribe, foreign officials, the best way for the company to minimize its liability exposure is to conduct a swift, thorough, and impartial internal investigation. Utilizing a reputable outside agency to conduct the investigation is an effective method for insuring impartiality and earning credibility with law enforcement.

For more information on how Radius Investigations can assist you in conducting international due diligence, and/or internal investigations, contact us by email here or call 888-698-0077.