The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has formed international corruption squads to deal with foreign bribery and kleptocracy crimes.
Late last year, according to FBI, Alstom—a French power and transportation company—pled guilty in U.S. federal court to engaging in a widespread foreign bribery scheme involving tens of millions of dollars. It agreed to pay a record-setting $772 million fine to resolve the charges.
The company had violated the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) for more than a decade by paying bribes to government officials around the world—falsifying its books and records in the process—in connection with power, grid, and transportation projects for state-owned entities.
[ Also Read: FBI Unleashes Cat to Catch Computer Hackers ]
The FCPA, passed in 1977, makes it illegal for U.S. companies, U.S. persons, and foreign corporations with certain U.S. ties to bribe foreign officials to obtain or retain business overseas.
According to FBI, foreign bribery has the ability to impact U.S. financial markets, economic growth, and national security. It also breaks down the international free market system by promoting anti-competitive behavior and, ultimately, makes consumers pay more.
[ Also Read: Tackling Terrorism by Fighting Corruption ]
FBI observes that foreign bribery incidents are increasingly tied to a type of government corruption known as kleptocracy, which is when foreign officials steal from their own government treasuries at the expense of their citizens.
And that’s basically what these foreign officials are doing when they accept bribes in their official capability for personal gain, sometimes using the U.S. banking system to hide and / or launder their criminal proceeds.
The FBI—in conjunction with the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Fraud Section—recently announced another weapon in the battle against foreign bribery and kleptocracy-related criminal activity: the establishment of three dedicated international corruption squads, based in New York City, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.
Special Agent George McEachern, who heads up the International Corruption Unit at FBI Headquarters, explains that the squads were created to address the national and international implications of corruption.
FBI believes that the new squads will help keep the Bureau at the forefront of U.S. and global law enforcement efforts to battle international corruption and kleptocracy.
Photo courtesy: FBI