USC Office of Compliance

FAQs

What types of businesses does the FCPA cover?
 
The FCPA covers all "domestic concerns", which includes for-profit and non-profits, including universities, and non-governmental organizations (NGO's).
 
As long as I don't put money in an envelope and hand it to someone, I have nothing to worry about, right?
 
Wrong.  Although cash payments certainly violate the FCPA, the law applies broadly to anything of value, including gifts and entertainment as well as anything else designed to influence the behavior of a foreign government or official in a way that benefits USC.
 
I only deal with foreign professors and university administrators.  Are they foreign officials as well?
 
They may be.  A foreign official includes employees of government-controlled or government-owned entities, including state-owned or run universities.  Therefore, a professor or administrator who works for a state-run university is considered a "foreign official" for FCPA purposes.
 
I travel to a country where it is customary to exchange gifts of nominal value, and it would be rude not to.  What do I do?
 
The FCPA applies to and prohibits the transfer of any and all things of value, including gifts.  There is no dollar threshold beneath which a payment or gift is permitted.  There are certain exceptions, however, if the payment or gift is modest and isolated and is not designed to influence the recipient's objectivity.  This area is murky, however, and you should seek approval from the Office of Compliance or the Office of General Counsel before giving any gift, regardless of value.
 
Can I give gifts to family members of foreign officials?
 
Although the FCPA does not explicitly cover family members, a gift or payment to a close family member could be considered so close to the foreign official that it is effectively a payment directly to that official.  You should never attempt to circumvent FCPA's limitations by transferring anything of value to a family member of a foreign official.