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Anti-Corruption Laws

  • The United States is the world’s leader in combating corruption through its comprehensive legislation and aggressive enforcement efforts.
  • Corruption is broadly defined as the abuse of power entrusted to an individual to achieve some private or personal gain.
  • Federal agencies such as the Department of Justice (“DOJ”), the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) are the main authorities responsible for enforcing anti-corruption laws in the United States.
  • There are numerous anti-corruption laws that individuals and companies need to be aware of before proceeding to adopt a robust company compliance program.
  • Examples of prominent anti-corruption laws include the following: federal bribery of public officials and witnesses; the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act; the Hobbs Act; and the federal mail and wire fraud statutes.
  • Consider hiring a law firm that is experienced in all the anti-corruption legislation and can advise you on the differences, how to proceed in response to a federal investigation, and the benefits of adopting a strong compliance program.

Experienced Anti-Corruption Law Defense Team

John W. Sellers
Attorney John W. Sellers
Head of FCPA Group
Anti-Corruption Laws Team Lead
Former DOJ Trial Attorney
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If you have been charged or are being investigated in connection with violating federal anti-corruption statutes, now is the time to take prompt action in your defense.

The federal government has increased its investigative efforts to combat corruption and bribery in the United States due to the potential harm to the integrity and security of the United States.

There are countless federal laws in existence that encompass and discipline behavior indicative of corruption. This can unfortunately subject many companies to increased scrutiny, especially those that regularly transact with foreign companies and foreign officials.

It is critical that you are represented by an experienced team of FCPA lawyers with extensive knowledge of U.S. anti-corruption laws, including their distinction, how to evaluate possible defenses, and how to successfully fight federal charges both in the investigative and litigation process.

At Oberheiden, P.C., our team of defense attorneys are trained to defend you and your company against unsubstantiated charges of corruption, bribery, and similar wrongful actions.

Do not wait to get in touch with a qualified defense attorney today. Put Oberheiden, P.C. on your side to fight for your business and reputation.


The United States has long been looked to as the world leader in combating corruption through its comprehensive legislation and aggressive enforcement efforts at the federal, state, and local levels.

The failure to adopt robust compliance programs or the violation of federal legislation enforcing anti-corruption can lead to significant fines and penalties, imprisonment terms, license debarments, and the loss of the ability to work with certain entities such as the federal government.

Loss of business contacts, customer base, and reputation are also at stake.

What is Corruption?

Corruption is the abuse of power entrusted to an individual in order to achieve some private or personal gain. It can involve anyone including government officials, public servants, business individuals, general members of society, and politicians.

Sometimes, in addition to solo actors, corruption involves the cooperation of professionals such as an accountant, lawyer, or banker and the use of those professionals’ services.

There are many examples of corruption and too many to list. However, the most common scenarios of corruption involve public servants and officials taking money from other individuals in exchange for “favors” such as services, contracts, government jobs, deals, sponsors, etc.

What Federal Regulatory Bodies Enforce Anti-Corruption Laws?

Federal agencies such as the Department of Justice (“DOJ”), the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) are the key authorities charged with enforcing U.S. anti-corruption laws.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) has recently announced its intention to start investigating companies for allegedly engaging in foreign bribery and corruption involving commodities.

The DOJ is principally charged with criminal prosecutions and the SEC is responsible for handling the civil investigations and enforcement proceedings.

Sometimes, these agencies coordinate their investigative efforts with parallel investigations, which involve a great deal of sharing of information between the agencies regarding the company suspected of violating the anti-corruption laws.

Anti-Corruption Laws

Companies that maintain, monitor, and adjust their compliance programs are more likely to avoid liability for corruption.

However, before thinking too much about how to structure compliance programs, it is critical for companies to be aware of the anti-corruption laws in the United States.

Below we compile a list of various federal laws that regulate and impose liability for corruption, bribery, and other similar behavior:

Federal bribery of public officials and witnesses [18 U.S.C. § 201]

  • This is one of the most important federal statutes that criminalizes public corruption. Section 201 has two main parts:
    • Section 201(b) criminalizes the offer, receipt, and payment of bribes. It requires a showing that something of value was corruptly offered or promised to a public official and that something of value was corruptly demanded, sought, received, or accepted by a public official. It also requires a specific showing of intent by the giver to influence any official act and the specific intent by the recipient to be influenced in the performance of any official act.
    • Section 201(c) criminalizes the offer, receipt, and payment of illegal gratuities. It also requires a showing that something of value was offered or promised to a public official and that something of value was demanded, sought, received, or accepted by a public official. The illegal gratuity here must be for or because of any official act performed by such public official.
  • The difference between these two provisions is that there is a specific intent “to influence” or “to be influenced” for the bribery provision, while the illegal gratuity provision does not need specific intent—only a showing that the gratuity was given or received for or because of any official act by the public official.

Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 (“FCPA”) [15 U.S.C. §§ 78dd; 78m(b)]

  • The FCPA also contains two key provisions:
    • The anti-bribery provisions: The anti-bribery provision prohibits the bribing of foreign public officials in order to corruptly influence the foreign official for the purpose of obtaining or retaining business.
    • The accounting and recordkeeping provision: This provision requires publicly traded companies to maintain adequate books and records and to adopt internal financial controls as a part of their accounting practices.
  • The DOJ and SEC are charged with the criminal and civil enforcement authority of the provisions of the FCPA, respectively.
  • Over the past few decades, the U.S. government has collected billions of dollars from FCPA enforcement proceedings in penalties and fines, disgorgement orders, forfeitures, and sanctions.
  • The FCPA remains a powerful tool to combat cross-border corruption and bribery.

Theft or bribery concerning programs receiving Federal funds [18 U.S.C. § 666]

  • This federal provision applies when an individual applies or receives federal funds or benefits in excess of $10,000.
  • This statute contains several provisions on bribery and corruption, notably Section 666(a)(1)(B), which prohibits corruptly soliciting or demanding for the benefit of any person—intending to be influenced or rewarded in connection with any business or transaction—anything of value of $5,000 or more.

The Hobbs Act [18 U.S.C. § 1951]

  • The Hobbs Act also regulates corruption by prohibiting the actual or attempted robbery or extortion affecting interstate or foreign commerce under color of official right.
  • The Act applies to public officials who have obtained payments in return for official acts. For instance, it has been used to target corruption by public officials for extortion-related crimes such as taking cash payments and campaign contributions.
  • The reach of the Hobbs Act is broad; it can target a public official as long as the allegedly violative behavior affects interstate or foreign commerce.

The Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 (“FARA”) [22 U.S.C. § 611 et seq.]

  • FARA requires persons acting as agents of foreign powers in a political or quasi-political capacity to disclose their relationship with that foreign government and various information about those activities.
  • This helps prevent the spread of corruption by promoting disclosure of such relationships.

The Travel Act [18 U.S.C. § 1952]

  • The Travel Act prohibits the travel or use of the mails between states in interstate commerce or countries in foreign commerce with the intent to distribute, promote, or facilitate any unlawful activity.
  • These “unlawful” activities include violations of federal anti-corruption laws such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”), for instance.

Federal Mail and Wire Fraud Statutes [18 U.S.C. §§ 1341, 1343, 1346]

  • These statutes—mail and wire fraud—prohibit the use of the mails and wires in interstate commerce to carry out a scheme or artifice to defraud another of money or property.
  • Therefore, an individual that makes use of the mails or wires to perpetrate a bribery or corruption scheme may be subject to the federal mail and wire fraud statutes.

This above list of statutes may be daunting to read. Further, it is only representative of the most common statutes targeting corruption and bribery.

If you have any questions regarding the above statutes or additional statutes, call our team of anti-corruption defense attorneys today.

Put our highly experienced team on your side

Dr. Nick Oberheiden
Dr. Nick Oberheiden



Lynette S. Byrd
Lynette S. Byrd

Former DOJ Trial Attorney


Brian J. Kuester
Brian J. Kuester

Former U.S. Attorney

Amanda Marshall
Amanda Marshall

Former U.S. Attorney

Local Counsel

Joe Brown
Joe Brown

Former U.S. Attorney

Local Counsel

John W. Sellers
John W. Sellers

Former Senior DOJ Trial Attorney

Linda Julin McNamara
Linda Julin McNamara

Federal Appeals Attorney

Aaron L. Wiley
Aaron L. Wiley

Former DOJ attorney

Local Counsel

Roger Bach
Roger Bach

Former Special Agent (DOJ)

Chris Quick
Chris J. Quick

Former Special Agent (FBI & IRS-CI)

Michael S. Koslow
Michael S. Koslow

Former Supervisory Special Agent (DOD-OIG)

Ray Yuen
Ray Yuen

Former Supervisory Special Agent (FBI)

Need Advice Regarding Anti-Corruption Law Violations?

Being investigated for anti-corruption violations can waste both the time and expense typically associated with a protracted federal investigation.

Anti-corruption charges could also result in significant civil and criminal penalties, imprisonment terms, and damage to your business reputation.

If you have been charged with violations of federal anti-corruption laws or think an investigation could be initiated, it is time to get in touch with an attorney.

At Oberheiden, P.C., our attorneys are experienced in dealing with U.S. anti-corruption laws. We have a track record of successfully defending our clients through our aggressive defense strategies and dedicated and thorough work ethic.

Call us today at 888-680-1745 or contact our office for a free consultation to resolve your legal uncertainties, defend your business’ reputation, and fight for your freedom and liberty.

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