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An FCPA Exemption for Dealings in Haiti -- Good Idea?

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act must be much on the minds of in-house lawyers nationwide these days, what with the DOJ's announcement that it intends to beef up its enforcement unit "substantially." At Marginal Revolution, economist Tyler Cowen suggests that the FCPA may be standing in the way of U.S. participation in rebuilding efforts in Haiti.

Cowen says that, "You can't do business in Haiti without paying bribes," and recent events would seem to lend some credence to that opinion. Cowen quotes from a Wall Street Journal opinion piece (of which I, a humble non-subscriber, can show you only this much) where an unnamed American entrepreneur operating in the Caribbean stated that he simply "did not bother with" Haiti -- which he called "strictly pay to play" -- because of the FCPA.

The devastating earthquake clearly presents an opportunity of sorts for many American businesses. And some seem to have wasted no time getting down to Haiti to hawk their wares. It should not be necessary to suspend enforcement of an anti-corruption law to enable U.S. companies to participate, but, realistically speaking, is it justified in this case to look the other way for a time?

Posted by Eric Lipman on March 15, 2010 at 11:25 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

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