Corrupting International Adoption
An interesting article about the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act [FCPA] made me think about international adoption agencies and their criminal liability under this federal law. According to the article FCPA, which was enacted in 1977, prohibits bribery of foreign officials. The authors offer this sage advice:
In this climate of increased enforcement, it is imperative that firms doing business in foreign markets, both currently and in the future, become familiar with the FCPA. Both the anti-bribery and books-and-records provisions present significant issues for any company doing business abroad.
In general terms, the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions prohibit companies and individuals from making payments — or offering or promising to pay money or anything of value — to any foreign official with the purpose of inducing the recipient to misuse his official position by directing business to or maintaining business with the payor. The anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA apply to . . . any citizen, national or resident of the United States; any entity organized under the laws of any state or U.S. territory; U.S. persons who commit acts of bribery outside of the U.S.; . . . and U.S. and foreign agents of any of these persons or entities.
Hmmmmm. This law sounds like it was MADE for the international adoption oligarchy and, in a serious note of caution for all would-be adoptive parents, those unwittingly caught in its grasp. Let’s read on:
To create FCPA liability, the purpose of the payment or promise in question must have been to induce a foreign official to misuse his position. Significantly, however, the FCPA does not require the payment to actually succeed in its purpose. Companies and individuals that violate the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions are subject to impositions of fines and orders for forfeiture of assets derived from the corrupt activity.
In addition to fines and asset forfeitures, an individual convicted for violation of the anti-bribery provisions may be sentenced to prison term of up to five years.
Now that should wake you up! One international adoption agency distributed this memo entitled “Gifts for Russia” in which they clearly state (as if anyone was wondering): “These are gifts, not bribes. Gifts are part of the Russian way of doing business. With the gifts, you are recognizing the status of the people you are dealing with, and showing your appreciation for the assistance that they are giving you.”
Appreciation for the assistance that they are giving you. Solid words, but sound legal advice?
Just remember, as World Child, Inc. warned clients in their agency-parent Memo of Understanding, “your American dollars are very much in demand!” “We suggest you bring a variety of bills, including approximately twenty bills each of $1s, $5s, $10s, $20s, and $50s. The rest can be $100 dollar bills. Bills that are over ten years old, are very wrinkled, or are torn or written upon, will not be acceptable.” Acceptable to who?
According to the article:
Although it is clear that the FCPA prohibits bribing foreign officials or their representatives, some less obvious activities may constitute violations of the FCPA as well. Any company doing business abroad should be aware of the following examples of possible violations of the FCPA, particularly in view of the recent increase in enforcement:
- Excessive gift giving or entertaining foreign officials or their representatives.
- Allowing foreign officials or their staff to use company facilities for any purpose other than to demonstrate, promote or explain the services that the company provides.
- Employing a consultant or agent that has connections to a foreign government or agency, for the purpose of influencing that government’s or agency’s decisions.
- Passing money through an agent or consultant to a foreign official to obtain business or secure an advantage, including consulting or management contracts, or securing certain action on legislation, regulations, or other government activity.
Now I’m sure readers will let me know whether they’ve heard of anything even remotely similar to these (ILLEGAL ACTIVITIES) in the routine conduct of the business of international adoption. I suggest that if anything you’ve read here reminds you of anything you’ve personally experienced, witnessed or directed, call a lawyer, call the FBI, and post a comment.
And I thought corrupting international adoption with money was bad. Now we’ve got to worry about criminal liability for BRIBES?
Before you get too unsettled, just remember the timeless words of FOA (friend of adoption) Debbie Spivack, writing on the Focus on Adoption listserve in defense of Jeanne Smith’s Reaching Out Thru International Adoption agency which placed Russian girl Masha Allen with a pedophile adoptor: “fees are for services to ensure the integrity of the process and keep corruption away.” Thank goodness! That’ll make a stunning defense to felony criminal charges. With Spivack as your expert witness, even the most vile international adoption agency should be able to beat this rap.
And with all this in mind, the Foreign CORRUPT Practices Act need not worry anyone, least of all internationally adopting parents with crisp one hundred dollar bills stuffed in their suitcases.