The FCPA and the UK Bribery Act 2010 do not make gift giving illegal. But gifts given with a corrupt purpose do violate these laws. Note that an enforcement authority need not prove corrupt intent directly. A violation can be established by circumstantial evidence, including evidence of an extravagant gift being given or multiple gifts given to a government official within a short timeframe.
Organizations should have policies in place that provide clear guidance regarding acceptable gift giving and approval procedures. Dollar thresholds requiring different levels of approval and/or a list of permissible low-dollar gifts can provide helpful parameters. The policy should also establish who is responsible for approving gifts in advance of their purchase. In addition, the company should keep clear written records that properly account for the gift, and document the approval process, the type and value of the gift provided, and the purpose of the gift (i.e., to celebrate the New Year). Organizations should also ensure that gift giving is in compliance with local laws.
The following is a list of characteristics of gifts that tend to suggest that the gift was not intended as a corrupt payment. However, enforcement authorities could still initiate an enforcement proceeding based on the provision of such gifts if there is clear evidence of corrupt intent.
- The gift is not cash or a cash equivalent
- The gift is branded with a company logo
- The value of the gift is reasonable under local laws and customs
- The gift is given openly and transparently
- The gift is made at a customary time of gift giving (i.e., in recognition of a holiday)
- The gift is made as a gesture of goodwill and not to influence the government official to provide business to the gift giver