What are these anti-bribery laws?

The U.S., the United Kingdom and many other countries have strict criminal laws governing a broad range of improper payments in international activities.  International research, travel and collaboration activities could cause unknowing violations of these laws both home and abroad by members of the Stanford community.


Under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), a person may not offer or pay anything of value to a foreign government official in order to gain an improper advantage or obtain, retain, or further business activities. The U.K. Bribery Act applies to commercial bribery as well, and prohibits both payment and receipt of bribes.


Anything of value includes not only cash, but can include gifts, entertainment or other favors.  Gifts or entertainment do not need to be extravagant to violate these laws.


Foreign officials also defined broadly, and includes:

·         Local law enforcement, licensing and permitting officials

·         Professors at state universities

·         Healthcare professional at government-owned or controlled hospitals

·         Advisors to ministries, government agencies or government officials

·         Employees of a public international organization (such as the World Health Organization)

·         Family members of any of the above


For more information or guidance, see Stanford's anti-bribery policy

(https://adminguide.stanford.edu/chapter-12/subchapter-1/policy-12-1-2), or FCPA practical tips PDF


Areas of Risk

Many geographic regions include countries with a high incidence of requests for improper payments to facilitate a transaction. High risk regions include most countries in Africa and the Middle East, a majority of countries in Asia, including China and India, Eastern Europe and Russia. For more information about country-specific risks, consult the Transparency International website (https://www.transparency.org/).


Consequences of Violations

Violations of these laws can result in significant criminal penalties, including fines and potential jail time. Stanford is forbidden under the law from paying a fee on behalf of an employee/student, so any resulting financial penalty incurred by a member of the Stanford community is a personal responsibility. Individuals can also be held responsible for the actions of a 3rd party, such as a customs broker or consultant retained to assist with shipments or interactions with customs or licensing officials.



Members of the Stanford Community who have questions about global anti-bribery laws, or think they are being pressured to make an improper payment, may call the OGC for advice at (650) 723-9611.  In addition, the OGC is available to conduct group training.

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