Since the seventies, there's been a law on the books that makes it illegal for corporations to use bribes in doing business in foreign nations.
In recent years, the Department of Justice has been cracking down on corporations that violate this law, mainly because new IRS reporting requirements put the onus and risk of prosecution on corporate executives. Some of the biggest companies have been slammed with big fines, including Siemens, Halliburton and Johnson and Johnson.
Not surprisingly, these corporations are bitching about their being caught engaging in corrupt acts.
So what's a megacorporation to do? Fund the United States Chamber of Commerce to lobby for changes to the existing legislation to weaken the law.
The Wall Street Journal reports, in an article, Critics Target Bribery Law.
" For corporate America's top lobbyists, trying to curb a powerful antibribery law known as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act has risen to the top of the agenda, sparking a widespread debate about how the legislation is enforced.
In the past five years, a remarkable run of enforcement of the U.S. law has led to about $4 billion in penalties against corporations. The law prohibits companies from paying bribes to foreign officials to win business. A violation can result in criminal prosecution."
Bribery flickr image By macalin
The article reports that so far, over $700,000 has been invested in lobbying to weaken or eliminate the law. They're framing these onslaughts on the law as "clarifications," and two Democratic senators, Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.) and Chris Coons (D., Del.) are on board with this framing-- perhaps vying for the "owned and operated by corporations" reputation that Chris Dodd used to hold.
It's sad that a law that has some teeth could be made impotently toothless because of a few sell-out Democratic moderates who think no-one is watching.
It is no surprise that the United States Chamber of Commerce is pushing for legislation that lets corporations get away with breaking the law. It looks like they will get a bi-partisan positive response.
Or maybe not.
It seems that the biggest corporations are getting away scot-free without paying any taxes, but at least some of them are paying serious money for corruption, at least putting something back into the US coffers in return for all the US gives them. Changing the law so they can weasel their way out with exemptions will bring us back to corporations paying NOTHING for the privilege of doing business in the US-- no help for paying with all the ways the US makes doing business to attractive and profitable.