In some Latin American countries, it is not uncommon for business owners to offer bribes to government officials to advance their business. Under new ruels of Sarbanes-Oxley, U.S. officials have started to aggressively enforce anti-bribery laws.
"To avoid problems, lawyers advise U.S. companies to review their Latin American partners' financial records for unexplained commissions, suspicious donations to charities and fake or incomplete invoices. If they find a company is paying bribes, they should ask how critical those payments are, says Margaret Gibson, a partner at Kirkland & Ellis LLP in Chicago.
'It's all well and good for a U.S. investor to say, "I'm going to buy this business and you're going to stop and run clean," ' she says, but, 'It may be that the company will not get the business it used to get without those payments.' "
This article appeared in its entirety in the September 22, 2008 edition of Crain's Chicago Business.