Wal-Mart has been accused of bribing Mexican officials so that it could open stores South of the Border, but don’t think it is alone on this one. From the looks of it, business schools might want to add Bribery 101 as an elective.
Fortune reports that Deere, Disney, Hewlett-Packard, Qualcom, Las Vegas Sands, Koch Industries, and plenty of others “are also under investigation for violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.” Just this week, two big companies got caught when the SEC charged a former Morgan Stanley exec “with bribing an official of a state-owned Chinese company in order to win business for the investment firm.” Plus, News Corp. gave the word that it’s being investigated for bribery as part of its whole phone-hacking fiasco.
Indeed, according to Fortune, “at least 81 public companies under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission or the Department of Justice for running afoul of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which makes bribery in foreign countries punishable in the U.S.”
Companies are even wishing that bribes could be more part of the equation. One such example Fortune shares is Lakeland Industries, which “recently said its inability to pay bribes, due to the fact that it, unlike its competitors, follows U.S. laws, has lowered the company's sales.” But those laws do save the company expenditures on briefcases that come with handcuffs, of course.
And it doesn’t seem that large fines that have come down on other companies are stopping anybody from continuing the practice. Johnson & Johnson had to fork over $78 million last year “to settle claims that it violated the UN's Oil for Food program” and Halliburton shelled out $550 million three yeas ago to settle bribery claims, Fortune points out.
Of course, someone's bad news is another person's good news. "This area of law used to be an obscure specialty,” Richard Cassin, a FCPA expert, said, Fortune reports. Now every big law firm has a practice."