November 2, 2021

Whitehouse & Tillis Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Fight Foreign Corruption

Helsinki Commissioners introduce Foreign Extortion Prevention Act in Senate

Washington, DC – Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Thom Tillis (R-NC), both members of the Helsinki Commission, today introduced the bipartisan Foreign Extortion Prevention Act to combat kleptocracy and corruption by criminalizing bribery demands by foreign officials.

“Kleptocrats and criminals will seize on any opportunity to extort American businesses, enrich themselves, and undermine our national security,” said Whitehouse. “It’s illegal for an American business to pay a bribe abroad; this bipartisan legislation makes it illegal for a kleptocrat to demand one. In order to win the new clash of civilizations, America must defend the rule of law and signal that violations will not be tolerated.”

“American business needs a level playing field,” said Tillis. “The Chinese don’t play fair. The Russians don’t play fair. The Iranians certainly don’t play fair. These countries all rely on corruption and bribery to capture business opportunities. The Foreign Extortion Prevention Act attacks corruption at its source—those who demand bribes. It is a common-sense approach that brings the United States in line with best practices in fighting foreign bribery.”

Under U.S. law, only the giving or offering of a bribe abroad is considered a criminal activity. However, foreign corrupt officials routinely demand bribes from companies hoping to do business with them, then spend those ill-gotten gains in developed democracies. This system gives 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 Foreign Extortion Prevention Act is supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Transparency International’s U.S. Office, and Greenpeace USA. The bill also is supported by Accountability Lab, Africa Faith and Justice Network, Anti-Corruption Data Collective, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Coalition for Integrity, EG Justice, Freedom House, Global Financial Integrity, Integrity Initiatives International, International Coalition Against Illicit Economies (ICAIE), Oxfam America, Shadow World Investigations, The Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency (FACT) Coalition, The Free Russia Foundation, The ONE Campaign, The Sentry, UNISHKA Research Service, and Visual Teaching Technologies, LLC.

Representatives Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18) and John Curtis (UT-03) introduced the bill in the House.

Rich Davidson (Whitehouse), 202-228-6291

Adam Webb (Tillis), 202-224-6342

Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921