Trump considering changing law that bans US companies from bribing foreign officials for business

Kate Ng
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s administration is considering making changes to a law that makes it illegal for American companies to bribe foreign officials in exchange for business.

In a press conference at the White House on Friday, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters the administration was “looking at” the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).

“I would just say: We are aware of it, we are looking at it, and we’ve heard complaints from some of our companies,” said Mr Kudlow in response to a question about the FCPA.

“I don’t want to say anything definitive policy-wise, but we are looking at it.”

Mr Kudlow would not go into specifics about the possible changes and told reporters to “wait until we get a better package”, according to CNBC.

Concerns surrounding the state of the FCPA were prompted after the Washington Post revealed excerpts from an upcoming book, titled A Very Stable Genius, by the newspaper’s reporters Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig.

According to Mr Rucker and Ms Leonnig, Mr Trump expressed his unhappiness at the FCPA, calling it “unfair”.

The FCPA was established in 1977 and states it is “unlawful for certain classes or persons and entities to make payments to foreign government officials to assist in obtaining or retaining business”.

Mr Trump in 2017 reportedly told former secretary of state Rex Tillerson: “It’s just so unfair that American companies aren’t allowed to pay bribes to get business overseas.

“We’re going to change that.”

Mr Trump reportedly told Mr Tillerson to “get rid of that law”, which Mr Tillerson said would be almost impossible to get Congress to do.

The president then reportedly instructed Stephen Miller, a senior policy adviser, to draft an executive action to repeal the FCPA.

Mr Trump has had a longstanding problem with the FCPA and expressed his displeasure in the past. In 2012, he told CNBC is was a “horrible” law and “the world is laughing at us” for obeying it.

His disdain for the anti-corruption law appears to be at odds with one of his main defences against impeachment.

According to the New York Magazine, Republicans have argued Mr Trump withheld military aid from Ukraine and requested to investigate the Bidens as “part and parcel of his general anti-corruption concern”.

A Very Stable Genius is due for release on Tuesday.

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