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Article published October 6, 2012
Fix Carter-era law
Armand R. Cingolani III Butler
Recently, Avon products, Wal-Mart and Siemens have been targeted by odiously zealous prosecutors using the misguided Carter-era Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Most African Middle Eastern countries outside the domain of American Rule of Law are corrupt. Any company doing business with Nigeria and similar countries can be prosecuted for violating the act. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act penalizes only Americans trying to do business in a foreign country where natives induce businessmen to pay bribes as a traditional and customary cost of doing business. American Rule of Law never extends into these countries, so the foreign politician or businessman cannot be prosecuted. Furthermore, American Rule of Law cannot influence the country to change its citizens’ practices nor can American laws prosecute the parties that demand payment as a cost of doing business. What is most contradictory is that American businessmen are prosecuted in America for violations of American law that are legal and legitimate in the country where the acts occur. It is offensive for a law to prosecute and convict a person for committing legal conduct in a foreign country where American laws are not recognized, respected or enforced. The dichotomy between what the law punishes and reality is too wide to justify the law’s perpetuation. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act does not change foreign conduct and does not recognize the legality of the conduct where it occurs. This is an illegitimate enforcement of a hypocritical morality. Congress was irresponsible in passing the act, and the current inaction of Congress is criminal in that it does not correct the law to remedy the deficiencies of such idealistic legislation.