Combating Bribery of Indigenous Leaders in International Business

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Columbia Journal of Transnational Law

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Colum. J. Transnat'l L.


As United States law enforcement agencies have intensified their efforts to combat bribery in international business under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (the FCPA), one form of corruption has been overlooked: bribery of indigenous leaders by multinational enterprises undertaking projects that will impact their communities. This Article demonstrates that the FCPA, the Travel Act, and other federal statutes could be readily applied to this form of bribery. However, it also shows that certain economic dealings between companies and indigenous leaders have legitimate purposes, and that these dealings likely would be treated as permissible under these statutes. The author outlines guidelines for distinguishing between legitimate and corrupt transactions, which should inform companies and indigenous leaders when navigating and applying the statutory requirements. This Article also argues that enforcement agencies should assign to this form of bribery an enforcement priority equal to that of more conventional foreign corrupt practices, if and when the statutory elements are satisfied.

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