The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) of 1977 and its amendment – the Trade and Competitive Act of 1988 – are unique not only in the history of the accounting and auditing profession, but also in international law. The Acts raised awareness of the need for efficient and adequate internal control systems to prevent illegal acts such as the bribery of foreign officials, political parties and governments to secure or maintain contracts overseas. Its uniqueness is also due to the fact that the USA is the first country to pioneer such a legislation that impacted foreign trade, international law and codes of ethics. The research traces the history of the FCPA before and after its enactment, the role played by the various branches of the United States Government – Congress, Department of Justice, Securities Exchange commission (SEC), Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS); the contributions made by professional associations such as the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICFA), the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA), the American Bar Association (ABA); and, finally, the role played by various international organizations such as the United Nations (UN), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC). A cultural, ethical and legalistic background will give a better understanding of the FCPA as wll as the rationale for its controversy.
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