Gifting has a long tradition in the history of trade and diplomacy. The Gift was a token of respect and appreciation, an opportunity to share culture and art.
Unfortunately, rampant abuse of gifting, with intent to bribe, tainted this thoughtful tradition. This, in turn, has led to governments to combat the corruption and bribery of government officials through Legislation.
In the USA, we have The Foreign Corrupt Practice Act, in the UK the Bribery Act, and in China the anti-unfair competition law.
This legislation is intended to prevent bribery of Government officials to obtain or retain business.
To constitute a violation of the FCPA, a gift must be made “corruptly” which means that there must be intent to wrongfully influence the recipient. For the FCPA, the law is about intent to corrupt/influence, but it does not state specific values, including no bribe having been paid whatsoever. The intent to influence is sufficient for prosecution.
The FCPA also importantly imposes on public companies the need to keep accurate books and accounting records. The monitoring of internal procedures is also extremely important.
There have been a number of spectacular cases recently of US Companies prosecuted for breaches of the Law. In each case, large amounts of money, travel expenditures and other forms of payments to foreign officials were involved. These payments appear never to be in the ceremonial exchange of gifting between leaders. They appear to be patterns of behavior and involving huge amounts of money, often with third parties involved to hide the corrupting behavior.
The tradition of gifting will always be a great opportunity to communicate between business partners, that both sides truly value each other. The gift reflects respect and respect builds trust! These new laws will not only combat corruption but also have a positive effect on encouraging companies to focus more on the meaning of the gift.
The SEC has an excellent link regarding the FCPA provisions and guidelines at www.sec.gov/spotlight/fcpa/fcpa-resource-guide.pdf
From this, we can see the legitimate purpose of gifting is safeguarded and understood by the legislation.
The appropriate gift is never corrupting. We are here to help!
Let’s start the conversation.
Keith Lipert Corporate Gifts provides the Washington, DC area with thoughtful corporate custom gifts.