Foreign Corrupt Practices, International Business, Compliance


In the spring of 2015, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission brought two significant Foreign Corrupt Practices Act cases involving gifts, entertainment, and travel. The SEC brought the case of In the Matter of FLIR Systems involving FCPA violations concerning the financing of a “world tour” of personal travel for government officials. The SEC then filed the case of In the Matter of BHP Billiton involving FCPA violations concerning the sponsored attendance of foreign officials at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. These landmark cases affirm previous guidance by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the United States Department of Justice that gifts, entertainment, and travel given for corrupt and improper purposes will violate the FCPA. These cases also signify active involvement by United States regulators in pursuing violations under the FCPA for improper conduct concerning hospitality. This Article will provide an outline of the FCPA and emphasize the affirmative defense for certain “reasonable and bona fide” expenditures under the statute. The Article will then look at formal and informal guidance on gifts, entertainment, and travel as these subject matters relate to the FCPA. The Article will next discuss the recent FLIR and BHP Billiton cases. Finally, the Article will discuss key takeaways glanced from these cases, and the FCPA compliance measures that should be undertaken in the areas involving gifts, entertainment, and travel.



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