Should FCPA Violations Play A Role In The Decision?
Since bribery allegations emerged, Wal-Mart has remained firm in its interest to build in New York City, and it seems confident that it will be successful in its endeavors. Various individuals have also sided with Wal-Mart in its recent troubles with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). The New York Neighborhood Alliance, a group representing the best interest of New York’s small businesses, contends that any and all efforts to diminish Wal-Mart’s blatant disregard for the law are unjustified. In addition, the group argues that Wal-Mart’s actions should provide sufficient incentive to bar the conglomerate’s entry into New York City.
Wal-Mart supporters claim that the FCPA is too strict, ultimately inhibiting American businesses from engaging in competitive and commonly accepted bribery practices abroad. The reality is that this argument lacks substance on numerous levels. Arguing unethical dealings should be allowed based on the premise that others engage in them as well is ludicrous. If this defense was commonly accepted in the United States, minimum wage laws would be nonexistent, collusion would be welcomed, and various other laws established to protect the American public would be repealed.
It should also be noted, that America would be sending an irreversible message to the countries of the world if it were to loosen the FCPA regulations and allow Wal-Mart to bypass the FCPA unscathed. America has always been the trailblazer in setting high standards, and in 1977 it was the first to pass this kind of legislation. It eventually led 39 countries following the American example by signing an agreement at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Anti-Bribery Convention.
“Regardless of how many other countries engage in corrupt practices, the law is clear and so is Wal-Mart’s attempt to hide the bribery allegations,” asserts Brad Gerstman, founding partner at Gotham Government Relations & Communications.
“Wal-Mart has devoted much of its time, energy, and capital attempting to better its image in the eyes of New Yorkers. At the end of the day, the accountability promised by Mr. Mike Duke, President and CEO of Wal-Mart, has remained unrealized, and this lack of transparency should play a major role in determining if Wal-Mart should be granted entry into New York City,” says David Schwartz, founding partner at Gotham Government Relations & Communications.