Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), 15 USC 78dd-1, et seq., was originally enacted in 1977. There are two components of the FCPA.  The first requires that entities whose securities are listed in the U.S. meet the act's accounting provisions. The second contains anti-bribery provisions with broad applicability, including to public and private institutions of higher education.  Specifically, the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA prohibit the willful use of the mails or any means of instrumentality of interstate commerce corruptly in furtherance of any offer, payment, promise to pay, or authorization of the payment of money or anything of value to any person, while knowing that all or a portion of such money or thing of value will be offered, given or promised, directly or indirectly, to a foreign official to

  1. influence the foreign official in his or her official capacity;
  2. induce the foreign official to do or omit to do an act in violation of his or her lawful duty; or
  3. secure any improper advantage in order to assist in obtaining or retaining business for or with, or directing business to, any person.

Compliance with the requirements of the FCPA is consistent with the expectations of the University Code of Ethics and is specifically required by University policy GOV-003 University Corporate Compliance Program for Adherence to Federal, State, and Other Regulations.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is subject to the anti-birbery provisions of the FCPA? 

Among the parties subject to the FCPA are "domestic concerns" which includes any individual who is a citizen, national, or resident of the United States, or any corporation, partnership, association, joint-stock company, business trust, unincorporated organization, or sole proprietorship that is organized under the laws of the United States or its states, territories, possessions, or commonwealths or that has its principal place of business in the United States. Officers, directors, employees, agents, or stockholders acting on behalf of a domestic concern, including foreign national or companies are also covered.

What does "corruptly" mean in the context of the FCPA?

The word “corruptly” is used in order to make clear that the offer, payment, promise, or gift, must be intended to induce the recipient to misuse his or her official position.

What does "anything of value" mean?

There is no minimum threshold set by the FCPA for corrupt gifts or payments.  Regardless of size, for a gift or payment to violate the FCPA it must be provided with "corrupt intent," i.e., with the intent to improperly influence the foreign official.  The following are examples of payments or gifts that might be considered a bribe under the FCPA:

  • Unreasonable or non-bona fide payment of travel expenses (FIN-004 should be used to establish that the travel was for a bona fide business purpose and that the expenditures were necessary, appropriate, and within prescribed limits) 
  • Unreasonable gifts, entertainment, hospitality, administrative fees
  • Acceptance of cash or anything of value in excess of modest gifts and hospitality from anyone doing or seeking to do business with UVA
  • Contracting with an entity owned or recommended by a foreign official or owned by his or her family members
  • Charitable contributions to organizations owned or recommended by a foreign official or owned by his or her family members
  • Conferring titles of honor
  • Promises of admission or acceptance to UVA
  • Contribution to a non-U.S. political party or candidate for non-U.S. political office
Who is a foreign official?

Any officer or employee of a foreign government or any department, agency, or instrumentality thereof, or of a public international organization, or any person acting in an official capacity for or on behalf of any of the foregoing is a "foreign official."  The act also prohibits payments or gifts to "any foreign political party or official thereof," "any candidate for foreign political office," and any person, while knowing that all or a portion of the payment will be offered, given or promised to an individual falling within any of these categories.  Payments to a family member or other close contact of a foreign official may also be a violation of the act as they are seen as a way of influencing the foreign official.  Note:  Foreign institutions of higher education are often government agencies and therefore their employees, including leadership and faculty members, would be foreign officials under the FCPA. 

Does the FCPA only apply to activities that occur in the U.S.?

The FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions can apply to conduct both inside and outside the United States. Institutions and individuals may be prosecuted for using the U.S. mail or any means or instrumentality of interstate commerce in furtherance of a corrupt payment to a foreign official.  The Act defines “interstate commerce” as “trade, commerce, transportation, or communication among the several States, or between any foreign country and any State or between any State and any place or ship outside thereof."  The term also includes the intrastate use of any interstate means of communication, or any other interstate instrumentality. Thus, placing a telephone call or sending an e-mail, text message, or fax from, to, or through the United States involves interstate commerce—as does sending a wire transfer from or to a U.S. bank or otherwise using the U.S. banking system, or traveling across state borders or internationally to or from the United States.


For more information about the FCPA and how it may relate to University activities please enroll in and complete our short Foreign Corrupt Practices Act online training

Additional Resources

A Resource Guide to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act  - a detailed compilation of information about the FCPA, its provisions, and enforcement.

US Department of Justice website's FCPA pages.

US Security and Exchange Commission website detailing SEC Enforcement Actions: FCPA Cases.


Contact Finance Outreach and Compliance with any questions about the FCPA and how it might apply to your activities.  


We encourage you to report any actual or potential violations of the FCPA to Internal Audit (434-924-4110) or to the State Fraud Hotline (1-800-723-1615) which provides the option of anonymous reporting.  

The University of Virginia is committed to and complies with all applicable State and Federal Whistleblower Protection laws and regulations.