Nation: Foreign Bribes

Just a little bit illegal?

For two years U.S. businessmen have complained that their overseas sales are being hurt by the 1977 Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. It made bribery of foreign officials by U.S. firms a crime punishable by jail terms and fines of up to $1 million. Now, according to Justice Department officials, some relief may be in sight. Starting early next year, the department's lawyers will offer advice to businessmen on how far they can go without risking prosecution.

In general, the law permits payoffs to customs officers or other local officials...

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