Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Kennedy, Tillis, Whitehouse introduce bipartisan bill to protect U.S. businesses from foreign extortion

by BIZ Magazine

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, joined Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Tom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) in introducing the Foreign Extortion Prevention Act (FEPA) of 2023 to criminalize foreign officials’ soliciting bribes from Americans or U.S. businesses.

“Bad actors in other countries try to extort Americans and U.S. businesses all the time. The Foreign Extortion Prevention Act would criminalize those who demand bribes from Americans and level the playing field by making foreign officials follow the rule of law,” said Kennedy.

This bill would protect U.S. firms from corrupt foreign officials because such officials often demand bribes as a prerequisite for doing business in their countries. The FEPA would make such demands illegal, which would ensure that U.S. companies remain competitive in international contexts.

Under the FEPA Act, penalties for soliciting bribes would include a fine of up to $250,000 or three times the value of the bribe (whichever is greater) and a prison sentence of up to 15 years.

The FEPA would:

Commission the Department of Justice (DOJ) to prosecute foreign officials who request or receive a bribe from a U.S. individual or corporation, or from any person while in U.S. territory.

Require that the DOJ issue an annual report that summarizes major enforcement actions, analyzes the effectiveness of efforts to shield U.S. businesses from bribery demands and addresses foreign governments’ efforts to prosecute people who solicit bribes from Americans.

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