Bribery investigations were underway at year end 2017 in 82 countries, according to the latest “Global Enforcement Report 2017” released in March by TRACE International.
Brazil had 20 pending investigations into possible bribes paid to its own domestic officials. The next six countries with the most such investigations were India (14), China (12), Nigeria (12), Argentina (7) and Poland (7).
The United States has made it a crime since 1977 to offer anything of value to an official of a foreign government or international public organization in an effort to win or retain business. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act applies not only to US companies, but also to foreign companies that issue securities in US capital markets. In the four decades since the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act was enacted, the top six countries where the US has found illegal bribes paid are China, Iraq, Brazil, Nigeria, India and Russia.
In terms of where companies are under investigation by US authorities as of the end of December for paying bribes, there were 27 pending investigations looking into possible bribes paid to Chinese officials, 13 in Brazil, 11 in India, 10 in Russia, seven in Mexico and six in Poland. Over the last 40 years, three other countries have also featured prominently on lists of where actual enforcement measures have been taken by US authorities: Nigeria, Iraq and Indonesia.
US companies and foreign companies issuing securities in the US capital markets have an extra duty to be on the lookout for red flags suggesting potential bribes by their employees and outside contractors to government officials in such countries.