President Donald Trump was inaugurated at the height of an era of aggressive and record-breaking enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a law Congress passed 40 years ago to combat international bribery and corruption.1 The Trump administration, however, has expressed concerns that U.S. regulators and companies are playing by a stricter set of rules on an unlevel playing field, especially in developing countries. Before he was President, Donald Trump condemned the FCPA as a “horrible law” that “should be changed” because it penalizes American businesses for “going over to China and Mexico and other countries and getting business”; Attorney General Jeff Sessions has expressed concern about “unfair competition” from non-U.S. companies that are not bound by the FCPA; and while in private practice, SEC Chairman Jay Clayton advocated for the United States to “reevaluate its approach” due to “significant costs” imposed on American business by the “unique” and “zealous” enforcement of the FCPA.
Notwithstanding Trump administration antipathy to “zealous” anti-corruption enforcement, and perhaps assuaged by post-election expressions of support from administration officials and confidence in line prosecutors, commentators have near-unanimously predicted a steadfast continuation of this robust FCPA enforcement.2 The facts to date do not support these initial predictions.
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