Bill Clinton and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

  • 30 August 2016
  • NormanL
Bill Clinton and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

In all the talk about the Clinton Foundation, and the millions lavished upon it by groups, companies, and nations during Hillary Clinton's time as secretary of state, it is worth remembering that Bill Clinton was benefitting as well:

Former President Bill Clinton accepted more than $2.5 million in speaking fees from 13 major corporations and trade associations that lobbied the U.S. State Department while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, an International Business Times investigation has found. The fees were paid directly to the former president, and not directed to his philanthropic foundation.

Many of the companies that paid Bill Clinton for these speeches -- a roster of global giants that includes Microsoft, Oracle and Dell -- engaged him within the same three-month period in which they were also lobbying the State Department in pursuit of their policy aims, federal disclosure documents show. Several companies received millions of dollars in State Department contracts while Hillary Clinton led the institution.

The disclosure that President Clinton received personal payments for speeches from the same corporate interests that were actively seeking to secure favorable policies from a federal department overseen by his wife underscores the vexing issue now confronting her presidential aspirations: The Clinton family is at the center of public suspicions over the extent of insider dealing in Washington, emblematic of concerns that corporate interests are able to influence government action by creatively funneling money to people in power.

We won't call this honest graft, as there was little honest about it.

We will, however, recall that under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, it is illegal for American companies to engage in the kind of behavior that appears to have bene standad operating procedure at the Clnton Foundation:

The U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) prohibits the entities it covers from corruptly offering “anything of value” to a foreign official for the purposes of obtaining or retaining business. In most cases, the “thing of value” offered is a traditional bribe—money, expensive gifts, lavish vacations, etc. But in some cases, firms do “favors” for foreign officials that are less direct, and do not conform quite so obviously to traditional notion of bribery. Making a generous donations to the official’s favorite charity is one example; another, which has become increasingly prominent in recent FCPA investigations—primarily in cases involving China—is preferential hiring of the relatives of the foreign officials in exchange for business opportunities. This issue got a lot of press particularly in connection with the SEC’s investigation of hiring practices at JP Morgan and other investment banks in China, but the issue is more pervasive.

Pervasive, yes. And with the Clintons, it looks like the corruption worked both ways.

Not that the Justice Department or Securities and Exchange Commission care about such things when Bill or Hillary are involved...