Taking Your Small Business International? Read This First.

By Natalie Lynch: Attorney, AWI - CH
If you’re considering taking your small business international, the process comes with a fair amount of regulation. One such regulatory statute is the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or the FCPA.

The FCPA outlines the creation of international guidelines for transactional business conduct that is regulated by the Attorney General. The FCPA sets standards that are intended to prevent American businesses from issuing bribes to win business or their favor. Most U.S. business leaders scoff at the idea that they may issue bribe and the prohibited behaviors are not intuitive. So, your ‘average’ business leader rarely realizes the FCPA exists, that it applies to them, or how easy it is to fall into devastating penalties. 

The FCPA and the materials available to consumers about enforcement are comprehensive, but readers should take away a few key points. These include:

  • FCPA’s primary goals: The FCPA’s key principles, including when, when, where, and what can be done internationally
  • A historical perspective: A glimpse of the issues leading up to FCPA
  • Legal enforcement: How the FCPA is enforced and examples of said enforcement

FCPA is a federal law that was enacted in 1977, but over the years has been revised by Congress more than once. Among top concerns keeping the FCPA on Congress’s radar is whether businesses should be allowed to invest abroad, and if so, where, when, and what that looks like. The distinction is important to business leadership in both large and small enterprises seeking to take their business international. Adhering to the law can be costly to businesses, and small businesses may struggle to recover from this outlay of expenses. If small businesses anticipate international growth, then these businesses must bear a few accounting and data considerations, so they don’t wind up penalized with lofty fees. If it’s only a matter of time before your small domestic business grows internationally, you’ll want to read more here.