The FBI has just announced improved support to combat fraud on an international basis.
The FCPA, passed in 1977, makes it illegal for U.S. companies, U.S. persons, and foreign corporations with certain U.S. ties to bribe foreign officials to obtain or retain business overseas. And we take these crimes very seriously—foreign bribery has the ability to impact U.S. financial markets, economic growth, and national security. It also breaks down the international free market system by promoting anti-competitive behavior and, ultimately, makes consumers pay more.
We’re seeing that foreign bribery incidents are increasingly tied to a type of government corruption known as kleptocracy, which is when foreign officials steal from their own government treasuries at the expense of their citizens. (See sidebar for more on kleptocracy). And that’s basically what these foreign officials are doing when they accept bribes in their official capability for personal gain, sometimes using the U.S. banking system to hide and/or launder their criminal proceeds.
The FBI—in conjunction with the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Fraud Section—recently announced another weapon in the battle against foreign bribery and kleptocracy-related criminal activity: the establishment of three dedicated international corruption squads, based in New York City, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C
Kleptocracy 101 — A kleptocracy—loosely translated from Greek as “rule by thieves”—is a form of political or government corruption involving officials who steal from their government treasuries to enrich their own personal wealth. Both cases mentioned above were opened under DOJ’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, which—in coordination with the FBI and other federal agencies—seeks to forfeit the proceeds of corruption by foreign officials and, where appropriate, use the recovered assets to benefit the people harmed by the acts of corruption. Both cases, investigated by the FBI, are prime examples of kleptocracy-related criminal activity: Through bribes and other schemes, these “kleptocrats” stole money from their own governments and used the U.S. banking system, among others, to launder the funds.