The Travel Act: Bribing Business Representatives is Still Bribery…

“With all the attention being paid to the Justice Department’s aggressive prosecution of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act,” writes law firm Sheppard Mullin, “companies might be tempted to celebrate if an internal investigation revealed that no bribes had been paid to foreign officials.” But if that investigation were to reveal bribes paid to “non-government foreign business representatives,” there’s no call for celebration:

“While the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions may not apply, DOJ can still charge foreign commercial bribes under an alternative, non-FCPA theory. Most prominent of these is the Travel Act, which DOJ has occasionally used to charge foreign bribes.The Travel Act makes it a crime to engage in any interstate or foreign travel, or to use any mail or facility in foreign or interstate travel, with the intent to ‘carry on’ or ‘facilitate’ any ‘unlawful activity.’ In turn, ‘unlawful activity’ is defined to include the usual organized-crime activity (gambling, narcotics, drugs, and arson), and it also includes ‘bribery … in violation of the law of the State in which committed or of the United States.’ Oddly, under the Travel Act, the crime is not the bribe itself; it’s the international travel, telephone call, or wire transfer done to carry out the bribe.”

Read the full update, The Travel Act – The FCPA’s Red-Haired Stepchild, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP»