Thursday, January 20, 2011

The FCPA Was Not Hastily Enacted

"Enacted hastily in the post-Watergate Era’s ethical fever the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act ..."

So begins an otherwise solid lawyer written piece on the FCPA.

Say what you want about the FCPA, but one thing that can not be said is that the FCPA was "enacted hastily."

Beginning in the Spring of 1975, Congress held numerous hearings in the aftermath of news and disclosures of questionable foreign corporate payments to a variety of sources and for a variety of reasons.

What to do was an issue that occupied both the 94th Congress and the 95th Congress. What to do was also an issue of focus for the Gerald Ford administration as he appointed a Cabinet level "Task Force on Questionable Corporate Payments Abroad" in March 1976.

Between June 1975 and September 1977, approximately twenty bills were introduced in the Senate or House to address foreign corporate payments from a variety angles.

Between June 1975 and September 1977, Congress held eight hearings on the issue of foreign corporate payments and testimony was given by, among others, representatives from the State Department, the Defense Department, the Department of Justice, the Commerce Department, the Treasury Department, and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Congress also heard from lawyers, law professors, the American Bar Association, other bar association committees, industry groups, and public interest groups.

The 94th Congress came close to enacting what would become the FCPA in Fall 1976, but was unable to do so prior to adjourning for the 1976 elections in which Jimmy Carter defeated Gerald Ford.

When the 95th Congress began in January 1977, the legislative efforts begun in the 94th Congress resumed.

Jimmy Carter signed the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act on December 20, 1977.

Against this backdrop, was the FCPA "enacted hastily"?

I guess it depends on your definition of hastily, but I submit the answer is no.

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