The Role of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and Other Transnational Anti-Corruption Laws in Preventing or Lessening Future Financial Crises


Eric C. Chaffee


The most recent global financial crisis resulted in part from a failure of international law. Politicians and other regulators in the United States and abroad failed to effectively work together to create a consistent and proper level of regulation for the financial institutions, the mortgage-backed securities, and the credit default swaps that were at the heart of the crisis. As evidenced by the crisis, the globalization of financial markets within the past few decades has created new systemic risk in which national crises can quickly and easily spread across national borders. In the absence of greater coordination by politicians and other regulators in the United States and abroad, global financial crises are likely to occur with greater regularity and severity as the world continues to become more interconnected.

Even if a cohesive web of international financial regulation can be developed, enforcement of the various strands of that web of regulation remains a concern. Remarkably, anti-corruption law has largely been ignored as a necessary component of financial regulatory reform. In the voluminous body of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the term “corruption” is not mentioned once, which is extraordinarily troubling.

A robust and comprehensive system of transnational anti-corruption law is required to create stable global financial markets. The realities of an increasingly interconnected world precipitated the enactment of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act to prevent persons and other entities from engaging in activity that would corrupt foreign government officials. The OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, and various other international agreements have helped to spread transnational anti-corruption laws throughout the rest of the world. The adoption and enforcement of these laws, however, remains incomplete. In the absence of a robust and comprehensive system of transnational anti-corruption laws, the global financial markets remain subject to greater risk of future financial crises. This article explores the current global system of anti-corruption law and explore how that system should and must evolve to prevent or lessen future global financial crises.


Bribery, Corruption, Dodd Frank, Financial Crisis, FCPA, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, International Law, OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, Securities Law, Securities Regulation, United Nations Convention Against Corruption

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73 Ohio State Law Journal 1283 (2012)


COinS Eric C. Chaffee Faculty Bio