Foreign privacy relations: Compliance is key
Although the United States Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) has been on the books in roughly its current form for more than 30 years, its practical importance has increased dramatically in recent years, with the US authorities stepping up FCPA enforcement and demanding ever-steeper penalties from companies charged with having violated its terms. This trend has major implications for European companies which are often directly subject to the FCPA, either because they have US-based operations, or because they issue securities that are traded on US exchanges. Indeed, major European companies such as Siemens, Akzo Nobel, Alcatel, ABB and BAE Systems have found themselves embroiled in expensive, messy and high-profile investigations with US authorities in recent years. And yet, according to one recent survey, executives at nearly half of the companies listed on the FTSE 350 were unaware of whether their company is subject to the FCPA, and nearly two-thirds responded that their company had no FCPA compliance programme or that they were unaware of whether any such programme existed.
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