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Unformatted text preview: Databases selected: Multiple databases... Full Text (1265 words) U.S. Cracks Down on Corporate Bribes Dionne Searcey . Wall Street Journal . (Eastern edition). New York, N.Y.: May 26, 2009. pg. A.1 Abstract (Summary) "When you have a law that can result in criminal sanctions and jail time and that you can violate without actually realizing you're violating it, that's terrifying," said Alexandra Wrage, president of Trace International Inc., a Washington-based nonprofit specializing in antibribery compliance. The FCPA began its recent rise in prominence when, in 2004, a Justice Department overseas-bribery probe of defense-services company Titan Corp. sent its stock on a slide and eventually scuttled a $1.6 billion merger with aerospace giant Lockheed Martin Corp. Titan pleaded guilty and eventually paid $28.5 million to settle SEC charges that it allegedly bribed government officials in Benin to develop a telecommunications project. (c) 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Reproduced with permission of copyright owner. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without permission. The Justice Department is increasing its prosecutions of alleged acts of foreign bribery by U.S. corporations, forcing them to take costly steps to defend against scrutiny. The crackdown under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or FCPA -- a post-Watergate law largely dormant for decades -- now extends across five continents and penetrates entire industries, including energy and medical devices. Among the companies currently under Justice Department review: Sun Microsystems Inc. and Royal Dutch Shell PLC, according to the companies' disclosures. At least 120 companies are under investigation, according to Mark Mendelsohn, a deputy chief in the Justice Department division overseeing the prosecutions, up from 100 at the end of last year. The effort began in the wake of a series of business scandals earlier this decade, including the collapse of Enron, that stirred up a new corporate-reform movement. Today, companies across the U.S. are working to figure out if they are at risk. In some instances, companies have called the Justice Department to come clean, in hopes of obtaining leniency. "If we call them before they call us, it's not where they want to be," Mr. Mendelsohn said. The law prohibits U.S. companies from paying, or offering to pay, foreign-government officials or employees of state-owned companies to gain a business advantage. It covers nonmonetary gifts or offers in addition to cash payments, and is worded broadly enough that it's spawning an army of consultants, some of whom once prosecuted bribery cases for the Justice Department, who offer to interpret the gray areas....
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