FCPA Opinion Procedure Release 10-01

The Department of Justice released its latest Opinion Procedure Release under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. It’s one of the quirks of the FCPA that you can ask the Department of Justice whether a particular situation would be a violation of the FCPA.

This opinion is also quirky. The company requesting the opinion was in the odd situation of having to hire a foreign official as the director of a facility it is building in a foreign country.

Hiring a foreign official is an obvious red flag for a potential violation of the FCPA.

The quirk of the situation is that the United States government directed the company to hire the foreign official. The company is building the facility under a government contract as part of US assistance to the foreign country. The foreign country identified the individual they wanted as facility director. They told the US government, who directed the company to hire the individual.

Here are the reasons stated why this situation is not a violation of the FCPA:

  • [T]he Individual is being hired pursuant to an agreement between the U.S. Government Agency and the Foreign Country, and will not be in a position to influence any act or decision affecting the Requestor.
  • [T]he Requestor is contractually bound to hire and compensate the Individual as directed by the U.S. Government Agency.
  • The Requestor did not play any role in selecting the Individual, who was appointed by the Foreign Country based upon the Individual’s qualifications.
  • In neither position will the Individual perform any services on behalf of, or receive any direction from, the Requestor.
  • [T]he Individual will have no decision-making authority over matters affecting the Requestor, including procurement and contracting decisions.

I don’t think this release offers much insight to the FCPA. It does point out that you may be able to hire a foreign official if directed by the US government.