The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act prohibits bribes, but makes an except for those that facilitate or expedite a foreign official’s routine task – so-called “facilitation payments.”
And though the definition of a “facilitation payments” leaves room for interpretation, Wal-Mart may have trouble with its FCPA defense, explained Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney Litigation Shareholder Matthew J. Feeley in the FCPA Report.
In April, Wal-Mart launched an internal investigation into allegations that its Mexican subsidiary paid officials “obtain zoning approvals and reductions in environmental impact fees,” according to the Report.
Feeley, who has been quoted in The New York Times regarding the Wal-Mart investigation, explained that the amount of the retail giant’s payments, not the fact that payments were made at all, make up the core issue.
“Based on the amounts of these so-called facilitation payments, you would be hard-pressed to find someone who could argue those were facilitation payments,” he said.