Since 1977, the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) has placed the United States in the forefront in the fight against bribery and corruption around the world. Nevertheless, corruption is still pervasive, with damaging impacts on commercial competition, economic development and the realization of human rights. Earlier this year, the New York Times published detailed allegations of a massive bribery scheme involving Wal-Mart* in Mexico. Our research analysts pay close attention to these stories as part of their social and environmental evaluation of companies for our funds.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a powerful business lobbying group, has proposed certain “clarifications” to the FCPA that many believe will weaken our government’s enforcement efforts. We felt that this was an important opportunity for investors to weigh in.
In May, we met with senior officials at the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice – the two government agencies with joint authority over the FCPA – to express our strong support for the Act, and our concerns about any efforts to weaken it. Following our meeting, we worked with other investors to draft an investor statement in support of the FCPA, explaining in detail why strong enforcement is in the best long-term interests of investors, corporations and society. Domini then reached out to other investors for their endorsement. Expressions of support poured in from around the world. In mid- August we submitted the final statement to the SEC and DOJ, on behalf of more than fifty institutional investors managing more than $3 trillion, in addition to several large investor networks.