U.S. Looks to Foreign Public Officials in Fight Against Corruption (FEPA Act)

On 21 January 2009, Barack Obama began his term as President of the United States with a speech in which he pledged that his term would be governed by transparency, participation and collaboration. These three pillars would define the open government  model that has permeated public policies around the world ever since.

Many of the actions, movements or decisions that are taken in one part of the world have their influence on the rest, especially if the one who makes them is a power like the United States.

Thus, in the field of the fight against corruption, we saw how during the 70s the succession of several corruption cases in the United States led the Securities and Exchange Commission (the equivalent in our country to the CNMV) to carry out an investigation that revealed that more than 400 companies had paid millions of dollars in bribes to public officials.

The direct consequence of this investigation was that in 1977 the U.S. government passed the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), which became one of the main tools in the fight against corruption and is considered the “mother” law of compliance. From the point of view of its application, the FCPA attacked corruption from the perspective of active bribery, that is, from who offers the bribe.

It took until December 14, 2023 for the U.S. Congress to approve the Foreign Extortion Prevention Act (FEPA), which fills the loophole left by the FCPA by regulating passive bribery, i.e., the solicitation of bribes by a foreign public official.

Thus, while the FCPA applies to individuals and companies that pay or agree to pay bribes to foreign officials in exchange for business; FEPA makes it a crime for a foreign government official to demand, receive, or agree to receive a bribe from a U.S. company or individual. And it’s not just cash payments that are collected as bribes, “anything of value” is also included.

Foreign officials who solicit or accept bribes from U.S. entities could face up to $250,000 in fines and up to 15 years in prison.

The rule applies in addition to foreign government officials, to the “high-ranking political figure” that includes senior officials of political parties and senior executives of companies owned by the foreign government.

For the first time, and this is one of the novelties of the FEPA, the criminal liability of foreign public officials is included, which means that this rule has extraterritorial scope, although it remains to be seen what fit extradition agreements or power relations between governments have here.

The approval of the FEPA is part of the Biden Administration’s policy of fighting corruption as a key element of U.S. national security, positioning this country as one of the most advanced in the fight against corruption as it aims to eradicate foreign corruption at its source.

In this framework, the Biden Administration also approved the so-called 2021 Strategy to Counter Corruption, which together with FEPA provides the Department of Justice with new legal tools that allow it to criminally prosecute corrupt foreign officials who often escape justice in their countries of origin.

The FEPA has been approved as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for the year 2024, which in our country would be equivalent to the accompanying law, and had the support of both Republicans and Democrats, which shows how all American political parties join forces in the fight against corruption.

In the same way that the passage of the FCPA led to the birth of compliance and a greater awareness of the importance of the fight against corruption, it is expected that this new FEPA will also be a boost towards greater levels of ethics and integrity around the world.

Amalia López Acera

Head of institutional relations, communication and participation unit of the AVAF

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#DocuforumAVAF in action. The IES Vila-roja joins the interest in the work of the Valencian Anti-Fraud Agency


Almassora. – May 7, 2024

The Valencian Anti-Fraud Agency continues to commit to contributing to the United Nations-led project #UnitedAgainstCorruption, which projects that “youth is the cryptonite of corruption.”

With this objective, the AVAF works with Valencian youth, since through classroom debate, the critical spirit and interest of students who will soon become full-fledged citizens is encouraged.

Last Tuesday, May 7, the Agency’s Training Service returned to the Castellón town of Almassora with #DocuforumAVAF. On this occasion, the 4th year ESO students from IES Vila-roja were the protagonists of the activity and those who had the opportunity to learn about the work of a public institution, unknown to them, the Valencian Anti-Fraud Agency.

Pilar Moreno García, training technician, shared with the students of the history subject, the mission of the Valencian Anti-Fraud Agency, a public institution, with its own legal personality and attached to Les Corts.

The students actively participated throughout the hour of presentation with their questions and comments. Their interests focused on the retaliation suffered by corruption whistleblowers and they jointly debated day-to-day ethical dilemmas.The possible existence of missing reports received in the AVAF mailbox, as well as the phases in which investigations are carried out after receiving communications to the mailbox, drew the attention of those present.

Thanks to the collaboration of Professor Joan Antoni Trenco, the Agency was able to be present in the classrooms of the IES Vila-roja, showing the most outstanding functions related to the fight against fraud and corruption in the territorial area of ​​the Valencian Community of the AVAF.

If you are a university, high school or 4th year ESO teacher in the Valencian Community and are interested in having the #DocuforumAVAF training activity carried out in your classroom, do not hesitate to contact the Training Service of the Valencian Anti-Fraud Agency through formacion@antifraucv.es