France Playing Catch-Up with Anti-Corruption

By Alec Diamond

France is ranked a lowly 23rd in Transparency International’s Public Corruption Perception Index. In recent years, French companies like Alstom and Total have been forced to pay millions of dollars to U.S. authorities over bribery allegations. The French Finance Minister, Michel Sapin, finding the nation’s foreign corruption record insulting, has announced a new anti-corruption bill. Provisions will include increased protections for whistleblowers (an important tool used by the U.S. DOJ to identify potential FCPA violations), the creation of an anti-corruption agency, and a ban on large gifts to government officials. Time will tell if this new bill generates comparable revenue through fines to the FCPA in the United States. Interestingly, the government dropped plans to provide for guilty pleas in exchange for financial settlements under the new laws (most cases that have been brought by U.S. authorities end in settlement rather than trial).