The FCPA prohibits the offer, authorization, or provision of a thing of value to a foreign official.  Whether something constitutes a thing of value depends on the subjective perception of the intended recipient.1  In practice, even an intangible benefit might qualify as a thing of value so long as there is evidence the thing has value to the foreign official.  The DOJ and SEC have broadly interpreted the term to include:

  • cash;
  • cash equivalents and financial instruments, such as securities, loans, and gift certificates;
  • gifts, including jewelry and luxury items;
  • leisure travel, accommodations, and sightseeing excursions;
  • entertainment;
  • employment opportunities;
  • political and charitable donations;
  • education expenses;
  • sponsorships for seminars and educational programs; and
  • medical expenses.

1 See United States v. Williams, 705 F.2d 603, 623 (2d Cir. 1983).


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