News Corp. probe may shed light on US anti-corruption act

“The U.S. Chamber acts at the direction of its Board and its largest donors, and the link between FCPA violations and U.S. Chamber Board membership is crystal clear.”

Jul 19, 2011 02:07 IST India Infoline News Service

News that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. donated $1 million to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (Chamber) months before the Chamber issued a proposal to relax elements of the nation’s flagship anti-corruption legislation, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), highlights the need to fully understand the ties between the Chamber and companies charged under the FCPA.

According to research from watchdog organization U.S. ChamberWatch, six current or former Board Members of the Chamber or the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform—the Chamber’s legal reform advocacy arm responsible for publishing the U.S. Chamber’s FCPA amendment proposals—have FCPA charges currently pending or have already been fined between $10 million and $1.34 billion for violations of the FCPA. Other large donors have also had to pay multi-million dollar penalties for FCPA violations.

“The public is outraged by the possible link between Murdoch’s News Corp. and the U.S. Chamber’s aggressive lobbying efforts to emasculate the FCPA, but that may only be the tip of the iceberg,” said GFI’s Legal Counsel and Director of Government Affairs, Heather Lowe. “The U.S. Chamber acts at the direction of its Board and its largest donors, and the link between FCPA violations and U.S. Chamber Board membership is crystal clear.”

“It looks like the Chamber’s theory is that if its Board and other members are being prosecuted for international bribery, then the best solution is to weaken the law to make it harder to bring FCPA cases,” said Lowe. “These companies were not prosecuted for one random act of bribery, but for systemic, egregious violations of the FCPA. You don’t weaken fraud laws because more people are being prosecuted for running ponzi schemes, and you don’t weaken environmental laws because more companies are being prosecuted for chemical or oil spills. The Chamber’s drive against the FCPA is no different.”


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