The Economics of Foreign Bribery: Evidence from FCPA Enforcement Actions
Jonathan M. Karpoff
University of Washington - Michael G. Foster School of Business
D. Scott Lee
University of Nevada, Las Vegas - Lee Business School
Gerald S. Martin
American University - Kogod School of Business
March 21, 2014
We develop and calibrate a model of bribery and its enforcement using data from enforcement actions initiated under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) from 1978 through May 2013. We estimate that 22.9% of Compustat-listed firms with foreign sales engaged in a program of prosecutable bribery at least once during our sample period, and that the probability that a bribe-paying firm faces bribery charges is 6.4%. Bribes tend to be paid for important contracts, as the average ex ante NPV of a bribe-related contract is 2.6% of the firm’s market capitalization. The costs for firms that are prosecuted for bribery depend on whether the bribery is comingled with charges of financial fraud. Firms with comingled fraud charges face large fines, investigation costs, and reputational losses, such that the ex post NPV is negative. Bribe-paying firms without comingled fraud charges face significant fines and investigation costs, but do not, on average, lose reputation in a way that impedes future operations or profitability.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 65
Keywords: Bribery, FCPA, penalties, financial misrepresentation, fraud
JEL Classification: G38, K22, K42, L51, M41
Date posted: March 22, 2010 ; Last revised: September 10, 2014
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