From 10 July  to 17 July, Mayer Brown hosted a road show in Hong Kong and Shanghai on anti-corruption laws with a principal focus on the implications of the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) 1977 in Hong Kong and China.  The Road Show comprised a series of activities which received an overwhelming response and contributed to a significant increase of awareness of FCPA among businesses.

Speaking on the firm's behalf was a team of distinguished  lawyers from various Mayer Brown offices, including Claudius Sokenu from New York and Richard Tollan from Hong Kong. 

The anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA make it unlawful for a US person, firm or certain foreign issuers of securities, to make a payment to a foreign official for the purpose of retaining business for, or directing business to, any person.  Following amendment in 1998, the provisions also apply to foreign persons and firms who do any act in furtherance of such a corrupt payment while in the United States.   

The definition of foreign official is broad, including anyone working at state owned or managed enterprises.  There is also no materiality threshold in invoking the FCPA, making it illegal to offer anything (whether tangible or otherwise) of value as a bribe; the FCPA focuses on the intent of the bribery rather than the amount.

Given the sharp rise of US foreign investment in Hong Kong and China, and the dominance of state owned or managed institutions and enterprises in China, it is not surprising that FCPA concerns are now forefront in the mind of US corporate with business dealing in China. 

Coupled with increased enforcement activity against corporations and individuals by the US DOJ and/or SEC, the substantial criminal or civil liability which may follow (not to mention the drastic impact of negative publicity) many of our clients running business operations in Hong Kong and China are facing an unprecedented challenge  with their FCPA compliance programs. 

By hosting the road show, Mayer Brown  introduced our clients to the key legal aspects of the FCPA and how the firm's multi-jurisdictional service teams can help.  The US office has handled a portfolio of high-profile FCPA cases.  The  Hong Kong and China offices have also been active in advising and carrying out investigations relating to FCPA or local anti-corruption laws.  Mayer Brown works with clients to devise full FCPA compliance programmes and corporate codes of conduct, and in conjunction with the advice on transaction-specific issues, Mayer Brown can help clients reduce the risk of running foul of FCPA regulations. 

Mayer Brown was one of the co-sponsors of the Anti-Corruption China Summit organised by the American Conference Institute in Shanghai at the same time.  Speakers from leading law firms, including Richard Tollan, and government departments from the US, Hong Kong and China had a dynamic discussion of their views on current topics, highlights of the local corruption laws and the trends of the FCPA. 

To further promote the key messages of anti-corruption,  the team has also conducted a number of seminars for over 80 in-house counsel in Hong Kong, and forensic departments in leading accountancy firms.

The road show was an extremely worthwhile venture which allowed the free exchange of thoughts and ideas between parties.

If you are interested in learning more about the FCPA or would like to receive more information about Mayer Brown's upcoming events, please send your request to