Imagine if the next time you were caught speeding, you decided to finance an elaborate lobbying operation to change the speed limit and weaken laws against driving too fast on public roads. You probably find that to be a silly hypothetical, but for some big corporations it’s standard operating procedure.

All eyes are on Wal-Mart after it was exposed that its Mexican subsidiary spent at least $24 million bribing Mexican officials while its parent company moved to cover it all up. Soon after this happened, powerful corporate front groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Retail Industry Leaders Association, of which Wal-Mart is a member, lobbied to weaken the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), which is used to punish bribery. (Wal-Mart says it “never lobbied on [the FCPA]. Simply because Wal-Mart is a member of an organization does not mean we agree with every position they take.”)

But Wal-Mart isn’t the only corporation that has been involved in major foreign bribery schemes while lending its funding and prestige to front groups working to undermine bribery laws. Here’s a rundown of other corporations that have been caught in huge bribes while maintaining membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is trying to gut the FCPA:

Dow Chemical: Dow, which donated $1.9 million to the Chamber in 2009, paid a $325,000 settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 2007 for FCPA violations.

– Shell: Petroleum giant Shell is a dues-paying member of the Chamber that refused to quit the organization despite its climate change denialism in 2009 . The company had a settlement with the Department of Justice  and SEC over an FCPA violation related to bribing Nigerian officials in 2010. It paid $30 million.

Halliburton: Halliburton, a proud member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, had a record-breaking settlement with the SEC in 2009, paying $800 million for an FCPA violation related to bribery in Nigeria.

– General Electric: Chamber member General Electric (GE), while denouncing its climate change denialism, also refused to quit the organization over it. GE settled with the SEC with a $23 million settlement in 2010 for FCPA violations related to the Iraqi oil-for-food scandal.

- IBM: Chamber member IBM paid $10 million in a settlement to the SEC in 2011 after it admitted “making improper cash payments to government officials in South Korea and China.”
These are just a few examples of corporate members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce business lobby that has been trying to scale back the FCPA. As you can see, all of these companies joined Wal-Mart in simultaneously bribing foreign officials while supporting an organization that worked to undermine anti-bribery laws.

 

Filed under: Lobbying

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  • Wcso409

    This is enough to scare the life out of anyone. There is no more” WE THE PEOPLE”. Because we the people make about $30,000. a year and that makes us worker ants.The” Love” of money. How do” WE THE PEOPLE” compete with that?

    • Avaritia

      Ralph Nader says it best “We have a government of Exxons by the GMs for the Duponts”

    • guest

      Truly believe only a miracle from God can help the people now.

  • dianesvoice

    These multi-million dollar “settlements” have simply become an inconvenience to these huge corporations, factored into their budgets and simply passed on to consumers in the form of higher rates or higher prices. Until these officials are actually charged criminally here in the US or abroad, and serve actual prison time, there will be no true deterrence and the corruption will continue. Can you imagine some top corporate bigwigs from the US having to spend 10 years in a Chinese prison? The feeling of schadenfreude coming over me right now is truly satisfying.

  • Avaritia

    Only five? You must not be looking very hard. Oh, never mind. A bribe is not a bribe when/if it is made under the guise of “campaign contributions” something which is protected under the Constitution as the inalienable right of the corporations to free speech.

  • sentinel

    The name of the game is “Show me the Money”!

  • guest

    Halliburton raked in millions in Iraq, all part of Cheney’s plan. I feel Cheney’s money/influence played a role in his heart transplant. How many younger people were on the list? Not to imply that I did not want him to get his new heart, just seems unusual. Would it not be wonderful if this new heart actually made him a better person? Not surprised about these companies, BIG business rules.

  • CatKinNY

    I remember when the Chamber of Commerce was mostly an organization of small businesses and local banks, and the majority of it’s activities were of the local boosterism sort – beautifying and revitalizing local downtowns that had been hurt by the rise of malls, and hosting annual awards dinners for kids on their induction into the National Honor Society. Of course, the people who dominated it then were civic minded patriots, many of them WWII vets, who saw this country as a great socialist cooperative whose purpose was to raise up the less fortunate, the bill for which had obviously to be footed by those who could most aford it. Back then, everyone recognized the irrefutable logic of Willy Sutton, who, when aked why he robbed banks replied “Because that’s where the money is.” Now we live in a country where 400 people have more money than the poorest 150 million do, and the Republican response to this state of affair is to further lower taxes on the 400, and most of the media refuses to simply state that Paul Ryan is a charlatan. It’s time to rename the Chamber of Commerce to something more befitting it’s actual status. How about the Chamber of Horrors?

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