Justice Department cracking down on foreign bribes

The government's new less tolerant attitude toward corporate corruption, it seems, doesn't stop at America's shores. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the U.S. Justice Department has stepped up its prosecution of American companies for foreign bribery. In response, many have had to take "costly steps" to defend themselves against the allegations. The prosecutions fall under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), a little-used post-Watergate law. The crackdown spans five continents and a wide range of industries, including energy and medical devices.

According to company disclosures, Lucent Technologies, Sun Microsystems, Royal Dutch Shell and Titan Corp. are among the 120 companies under investigation. The stepped-up effort started thanks to scandals surrounding the likes of Enron earlier this decade. American companies are currently scurrying to find out if they are at risk or not. In some cases, companies have contacted the Justice Department to confess -- hoping that the honesty leads to leniency.


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