INTERNATIONAL ANTI-BRIBERY AND FAIR COMPETITION ACT OF 1998 -- HON. JOHN D. DINGELL (Extension of Remarks - October 12, 1998)
HON. JOHN D. DINGELL
in the House of Representatives
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 9, 1998
- Mr. DINGELL. Mr. Speaker, we all have a strong interest in seeing that there is a level playing field on which U.S. business and U.S. workers can compete in world markets.
- The bill are considering today, H.R. 4353, points out just how unlevel that playing field can be. In May of 1976, Congress received from the Securities and Exchange Commission an extensive `Report on Questionable and Illegal Corporate Payments and Practices' that revealed corrupt foreign payments by over 300 U.S. companies involving hundreds of millions of dollars and the falsification of accounting records and the deceit of auditors.
- Since 1977, U.S. law has made it a crime from American businessmen to bribe foreign government officials to obtain business contracts. Yet, Germany and other countries do not just fail to prohibit bribery on the part of their business representatives, they make it a tax deductible expense.
- Last December, 33 of our major trading partners signed the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. Under this agreement, our major trading partners commit, for the first time, to make business-related bribes to foreign officials a crime under their respective legal systems.
- H.R. 4353 expands and strengthens the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) to implement U.S. obligations under the OECD convention. It expands the FCPA to include bribes to foreign public officials that are made to secure `any improper advantage.' The bill also expands the FCPA to cover not only U.S. businesses and issuers of securities, but also any foreign natural or legal person that engages in a prohibited act within the territory of the United States.
- In addition, this legislation expands the definition of public official in the FCPA to include officials of public international organizations. It makes foreign employees and agents of issuers and domestic concerns subject to criminal penalties in the same way that U.S. citizens are. This legislation also amends the FCPA to provide for jurisdiction even when U.S. businesses and nationals engage in the offering of bribes wholly outside the United States.
- Mr. Speaker, this legislation contains strict monitoring and reporting requirements to ensure that our OECD partners fully implement the anti-bribery convention under their laws. It requires that the Administration report to Congress concerning its efforts to strengthen the Convention by extending the prohibitions contained in the Convention to cover bribes to political parties, party officials, and candidates for political office.
- Mr. Speaker, the Senate has already passed legislation ratifying and implementing the anti-bribery convention. Although we are rapidly approaching the end of this Congress, it is my hope that Congress can complete action on this important legislation this year.
- However, the legislation before us also contains matters having to do with international satellites, which are unrelated to the implementation of the anti-bribery convention. These satellite provisions are not in the implementing legislation passed by the Senate. It is my sincere hope that these extraneous satellite provisions will not prevent the House and Senate from sending the President legislation implementing the anti-bribery convention, before this Congress adjourns.
- The Commerce Department reports that there have been significant charges of bribery associated with international commercial contracts valued at more than $100 billion since 1994. Mr. Speaker, bribery hurts American business and American workers who must compete in the world market place. American business and American workers need the protections the OECD Convention provides, and they need them now.
- If we fail to implement the anti-bribery convention because of an ability to reach agreement on extraneous matters, American business and American workers will pay the price. Delay on our part will only give our OECD partners an excuse to delay their implementation of these important anti-bribery commitments.
- Mr. Speaker, swift action by this House, and this Congress, is needed, so the United States can set an example for our OECD partners to ratify and fully implement this important convention, as well. I hope my colleagues will give this important legislation their strong support.