Adoption and the FCPA

The latest Opinion Procedure Release from the Department of Justice comes from a group of non-profit adoption agencies. Based on the stories I’ve heard from friends who have adopted from overseas, I’m not surprised that adoption agencies are concerned about the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Opinion Release No. 12-02 is focused on an event hosted by the agencies and not the actual adoption practices. This is the second opinion release focused on adoption agencies.

Nineteen adoption agencies want to host 18 officials involved in the adoption process. The event sounds like a typical business/entertainment gathering:

  • Business class airfare on international portions and coach airfare for domestic portions of flights;
  •  Two or three nights hotel stay at a business-class hotel;
  • Meals; and
  • Transportation.

To minimize the concerns of concerns of corruption, the agencies put a few protections in place:

  1. Entertainment events will be of nominal value
  2. The agencies will not pick the attendees, but leave it up to the government agency.
  3. Souvenirs will have a business logo and be of nominal value.
  4. No stipend or spending money.

This sounds familiar because the Department of Justice dealt with very similar issues last year in Release 11-01. This year’s request sounds like there will be a bit more entertainment involved, but nothing extravagant.

The fact pattern does reflect anything new. I think it’s how most businesses would treat the situation. I suppose that’s helpful. But it also reflects a paranoia about the FCPA. It’s not a violation for merely giving something of value to a foreign official, there needs to be corrupt intent for a violation of the bribery sections of the FCPA. Obviously, a company should be anxious when a government official is involved and there should be heightened scrutiny. There was nothing about this release that has not been covered in other releases.