December 26, 2023

Bipartisan, Bicameral Foreign Extortion Prevention Act Signed into Law

New law will protect businesses and national security interests by criminalizing the demand-side of foreign bribery

Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Representatives Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) and Joe Wilson (R-SC) today applauded the enactment of the Foreign Extortion Prevention Act as part of the FY2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).  President Joe Biden signed the NDAA into law late last week.

“The enactment of the Foreign Extortion Prevention Act is a big win for the rule of law in the clash of civilizations against international kleptocrats and criminals.  Demanding a bribe from American companies will come with consequences,” said Whitehouse, a member of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission. 

“I’m proud that the Foreign Extortion Prevention Act was included in the NDAA that President Biden recently signed into law,” said Senator Tillis.  “Our commonsense legislation will help promote free enterprise and protect American businesses from corrupt foreign officials who try to extort them.” 

“The passage of this legislation is the most significant international criminal anti-corruption legislation in half a century.  I am grateful that this language was included in the NDAA and that it has been signed into law by President Biden.  This law will make it illegal for any foreign official to corruptly demand or accept a bribe from an U.S. person or company.  It is time that we expand our foreign bribery laws to capture the malfeasance of foreign kleptocrats—in this age of globalization, we cannot wait any longer.  I am pleased to have worked with Senators Whitehouse and Tillis, along with Congressman Wilson and I am proud of the work we have done together,” said Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime.

“The enactment of the Foreign Extortion Prevention Act is a landmark victory in the fight against corruption and protects American businesses from mafia-like extortion by corrupt foreign officials.  I am very grateful to have worked with Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Tom Tillis; and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee to advance this historic legislation.  This is just the beginning, and I thank everyone involved in their tremendous efforts on this achievement,” said Rep. Wilson, Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission.

The Foreign Extortion Prevention Act will combat kleptocracy and corruption by criminalizing bribery demands by foreign officials.  Until enactment of the legislation, only the giving or offering of a bribe abroad had been considered a criminal activity under U.S. law.  However, foreign corrupt officials routinely demanded bribes from companies hoping to do business with them.  This system gave unscrupulous companies operating in a corrupt environment a competitive edge while disadvantaging companies beholden to the rule of law, including American companies.  The Foreign Extortion Prevention Act remedies this by criminalizing the demand side of bribery, arming the United States to fight corruption.

The Senate legislation was also cosponsored by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and John Kennedy (R-LA), while the legislation introduced in the House was cosponsored by Representatives Steve Cohen (D-TN), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), William Keating (D-MA), John Curtis (R-UT), Dean Phillips (D-MN), Maria Salazar (R-FL), Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-CA), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Dwight Evans (D-PA), Glenn Ivey (D-MD), Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Donald Davis (D-NC), and Colin Allred (D-TX).  This legislation was developed with the support of, and has long been championed by, the U.S. Helsinki Commission.

“FEPA would create a powerful new tool for fighting foreign corruption at its source and for protecting Americans and American businesses working abroad.  It is arguably the most sweeping and consequential foreign bribery law in nearly half a century,” said Scott Greytak, Director of Advocacy for Transparency International U.S.  “We commend Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, Rep. Joe Wilson, Sen. Thom Tillis, the Helsinki Commission, and their respective staff, for their leadership and dedication to this transformative law.”

“CREW was proud to work with a broad bipartisan coalition of leaders to develop and pass FEPA, the first expansion of our country’s bribery and anti-corruption laws in nearly 50 years, and looks forward to working with FEPA’s leaders to continue fighting against corruption at home and abroad,” said Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

“FDD Action strongly supported including the Foreign Extortion Prevention Act in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2024.  This critical provision can help level the playing field for U.S. companies if the administration aggressively implements and enforces it.  Foreign officials demanding bribes from US individuals and companies must be held accountable,” said FDD Action.

“The FEPA, which has bipartisan support, would make it illegal for foreign officials to demand bribes from U.S. companies in exchange for allowing them to do business abroad.  This is a commonsense reform that will help keep the U.S. competitive in the global economy,” said the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. 

This bipartisan victory is another step in Senator Whitehouse’s fight against kleptocracy and corruption.  Whitehouse successfully passed into law the Corporate Transparency Act—the most important anti-money laundering reform in two decades; the CTA becomes effective on January 1, 2024.  Late last year, Senators Whitehouse and Graham passed bipartisan legislation to ensure Russian President Vladimir Putin and his corrupt oligarchs pay for the reconstruction of Ukraine.  In 2022, Whitehouse secured $67 million in the Ukraine supplemental appropriations bill for the Department of Justice’s KleptoCapture program—an interagency law enforcement task force to enforce sanctions, export restrictions, and economic countermeasures that the United States has imposed on Russia.  In 2021, Whitehouse successfully pressed Treasury to begin a rulemaking process to expand safeguards against money laundering in the U.S. real estate sector.


Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921

Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921