Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

Are you aware of the Foreign Corrupt Practice Act, prohibiting the exchange of anything for the purpose of securing an improper business advantage? 

  • Under no circumstances may Harvard faculty, staff and students offer bribes, “payoffs” or “kick-backs” in attempts to influence officials of foreign governments or institutions. Offering bribes, emoluments or remuneration in any form to an official of another government to influence them to do what they may not otherwise do is illegal under the laws of the United States and other nations. If approached by an official soliciting a bribe, Harvard faculty, staff and students should politely decline; if pressed and if, for example, personal safety is at issue, then they should exercise good judgment, immediately reporting to school and University officials the circumstances of the solicitation and any payment
  • The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) is a U.S. federal law that prohibits the exchange of “anything of value” to a foreign official for the purpose of “securing any improper advantage” in obtaining, retaining or directing business (e.g. – decision to award a contract to Harvard).  Items of value encompasses both monetary and non-monetary exchanges, such as travel and entertainment or training, scholarships or employment opportunities (e.g., employing the child of a foreign official to curry favor).  There is no monetary threshold – any exchange of value constitutes a violation of the FCPA. The FCPA provides an exception for facilitating payments, such as expediting a visa application, much like one may pay to have a passport application expedited here in the United States.  But for clarity, it is never allowable to provide payment to obtain a favorable decision, so caution should be exercised when contemplating a facilitating payment. See “Rules to Keep in Mind When Conducting University Business Overseas,” listed under Advisories at http://ogc.harvard.edu/pages/publications and also http://ari.hms.harvard.edu/files/integrity-academic-medicine/files/fcpa_final_7_15_16.pdf