WASHINGTON, Nov 8 (Reuters) - A top Justice Department
official said on Tuesday the agency will clarify next year what
triggers anti-corruption probes into U.S. corporations.
Lanny Breuer, head of the criminal division, said his
department expects to release "detailed new guidance" on the
criminal and civil enforcement provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).
The anti-bribery law is a chief concern for the U.S.
Chamber of Commerce, the country's largest business lobbying
group, as the DOJ and Securities and Exchange Commission have
stepped up their enforcement of the law in recent years.
The agencies have extracted record penalties from companies
of up to hundreds of millions of dollars.
The Chamber on Tuesday said it was "encouraged" by the
Justice Department's announcement.
It is a "welcome acknowledgment of what we in the business
community have long said -- DOJ's current FCPA enforcement
practices need clarification and modernization," Lisa Rickard,
the president of the Chamber's Institute for Legal Reform,
which has led the campaign, said.
The Chamber has pushed Congress in recent months to amend
the law and hired former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey
to lobby on its behalf.
It argues that ambiguity in the 1970s era law, which bars
U.S. firms and others from paying bribes to officials of
foreign governments, has injured U.S. businesses.
The group urged lawmakers to limit a company's liability
for the actions of its subsidiaries and to define who counts as
a "foreign official" under the law.
In his speech, Breuer said while the department did not
support any legislative changes to the law, it was taking
"considered suggestions" from the private sector into account.
"We have no intention whatsoever of supporting reforms
whose aim is to weaken the FCPA, and make it a less effective
tool for fighting foreign bribery," Breuer said.
(Reporting by Aruna Viswanatha)
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