- Globalization often necessitates international dealings and cooperation at multiple levels.
- However, sometimes a transaction or deal offered to a party in his or her official capacity or to a foreign government for personal advantage can look like a bribe.
- The SEC has recently introduced a specialized unit within its Enforcement Division to increase investigative procedures against individuals or companies suspected of engaging in a bribery offense.
- This places individuals and companies who regularly transact internationally at high risk.
- The thought of being the target of an investigation or having charges imposed for offering or receiving a bribe can be a worrisome time and can risk criminal penalties, jail time as well as substantial time and expense.
- Consider placing a specialized attorney on your defense team to develop a legal strategy against bribery charges.
Experienced Defense Team
If you have been charged for bribery, now is the time to take prompt action in your defense. Even if you have not been charged and are under investigation, it is never too early to contact a defense attorney and discuss your legal options.
The SEC regards enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) as a high priority. In 2020, the SEC’s Enforcement Division created a specialized unit to further advance its enforcement efforts under the FCPA.
Companies who regularly engage and have communications with public officials and foreign governments are at risk more than ever. This could result in unfair accusations leading to significant jail time and criminal penalties. Not to mention the time, expense, and loss to reputation and dignity associated with a lawsuit against you and your company.
You need an individualized defense strategy right away. Do not wait to get in touch with an experienced defense attorney today.
A charge against you has the power to shut down your life’s hard work and your company itself. Do everything possible to defend your rights. The defense attorneys at Oberheiden, P.C. are here to help.
At Oberheiden, P.C., our attorneys are highly qualified in handling complex bribery cases. We are a prestigious national law firm employing the most skilled and thorough defense attorneys in the nation specialized to help you.
Our attorneys include former FBI agents, former U.S. attorneys, and former prosecutors. Drawing upon this interdisciplinary background, we have the unique perspective to defend you and your company at every stage, including settling cases and arguing in court.
The stakes are high. Put Oberheiden, P.C. on your side today to fight for your liberty and reputation.
What is Bribery?
Bribery is the act of giving or accepting or promising to give or accept money or something of valuable consideration to another person/entity in that person’s official capacity. The consideration given is intended to persuade or induce the other into acting in a certain way.
It is important to understand that the consideration or money does not have to be received for the crime of bribery to be completed. The promise alone is sufficient to constitute bribery.
Both the individual who offers the bribe and the individual who accepts the bribe can be charged with a felony under U.S. law.
Bribery can involve public officials, officials from foreign governments, and other officials. It most often occurs when an individual offers money to a public official in exchange for a personal benefit. This public official can be an elected official of the law or somebody with the authority to act as such. It can also occur with a government official.
In the following sections, we will briefly explain federal bribery laws and public corruption statutes, some common examples of bribery, the process of a typical bribery investigations, and what you can do to protect yourself.
Federal Bribery Laws and Public Corruption Statutes
Laws regulating bribery can be complicated and encompass several types of behavior, even though supposedly innocent. For instance, even if a public official accepts consideration for an act he would have taken anyway without the consideration, that public official could still be guilty under both federal criminal bribery laws and laws regulating public corruption.
U.S. Code Section 201 regulates the bribery of public officials and witnesses. As per Section 201, whoever directly or indirectly, corruptly gives, offers or promises anything of value to any public official or person acting as a public official with the intent to influence that individual to act in a certain way will be subject to punishment.
Punishment under Section 201 could include fines or not more than three times the monetary equivalent of the thing of value (whichever is greater), or imprisoned for not more than fifteen years, or both. An individual could also be disqualified from the ability to hold public office.
The most notable public corruption statute is the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977, 15 U.S.C. §§ 78dd-1, et seq. (“FCPA”). The FCPA was enacted to make it unlawful for certain persons and entities to make payments to foreign government officials in retaining business or benefitting their business in some other way.
The anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA prohibit the wilful use of the mails or any other instrumentality of commerce to corruptly make an offer, payment, or promise to pay anything of value to any person while knowing that such money or thing of value will be offered to a foreign official in his or her official capacity to induce that foreign official to do an act in violation of their lawful duty to help the individual’s business.
Both laws – federal criminal bribery and the FCPA – require sophisticated representation by an experienced legal defense team.
Examples of Bribery
Bribery occurs where an individual offers or accepts a bribe or gratuity to or by a public official. An illegal kickback is one of the most common forms of bribery. A kickback involves paying money or something of value to someone in exchange for facilitating some transaction or receiving an appointment to public office.
Examples of bribery, including some forms of illegal kickbacks, can include the following:
- making payments to a public official’s election or re-election campaign in exchange for business contracts
- making payments to a member of Congress in exchange for that legislator’s vote or endorsement
- offering a doctor something of value such as a free vacation in exchange for prescriptions
- giving something of value to a public official in exchange for being given a position in the government
- a judge offering to rule in a certain way on an upcoming case in exchange for a job for their child or spouse
- a contractor or subcontractor offering a politician money in exchange for receiving the construction bid
- offering a health inspector money or something else of value to ignore a violation against your business
- giving a trial witness something of value in exchange for them concealing or revealing a certain testimony or lying on the stand
As demonstrated from the above list, federal agencies take bribery charges very seriously. Do not become prey to an over-zealous federal investigation. Protect any bribery allegations made against you. You need an attorney who knows how to protect your reputation, personal interests, and legal rights.
How Bribery Investigations Work
Federal agencies aggressively prosecute bribery charges, though bribery schemes can be both complex and lengthy.
Making matters worse, government agencies love to add federal conspiracy charges to a bribery charge. It is simple to do when there are two or more individuals that plan and execute a bribery scheme and often uses the same evidence as the original bribery charge.
Investigating agencies often coordinate their efforts to prosecute bribery. Such agencies can include the DOJ, SEC, FBI, and IRS.
In addition, all states have laws enacted against bribing public officials in an effort to eliminate or significantly mitigate corruption. State and local law enforcement regularly investigate bribery charges and gather a lot of evidence prior to recommending the case to a federal prosecutor and getting federal agencies involved.
Time is of the essence with bribery charges. Most of the time, you will not even know that you are being investigated for such a crime. But if you suspect that an investigation is underway or may be underway, contact us as soon as possible. There may be steps that we can take before an investigation is first initiated.
How to Respond If You’ve Been Charged/Arrested in Connection with Bribery
A charge of bribery can result in substantial criminal penalties and jail time. Such an investigation could waste needless time, expense, and result in many challenges for you.
Federal agencies aggressively prosecute bribery claims and coordinate their efforts with state and local law enforcement agencies.
Do not divulge any information to a federal agent without first discussing with your FCPA lawyers. Get a diligent and responsible attorney on your side to defend you.
The defense attorneys at Oberheiden, P.C. have the experience and extensive knowledge needed to prepare your defense and defend you at every stage. If you are charged and need help with a bribery charge, call us today or contact our office for a free consultation.