May I give a gift to a colleague or to a governmental official in another country?

The U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act will apply to a gift (i.e. something of value) to a foreign official or political party if the gift is made to obtain influence, induce an action, or obtain an advantage. Clearly, this prohibition will apply to all governmental officials; in addition, it will apply to employees of state-run universities, hospitals and other entities who are likely to be considered “foreign officials” for purposes of this law.  Click here to read more about this topic.

The safest practice is to avoid giving gifts to governmental officials and colleagues outside the U.S. in connection with Yale work. If a gift is culturally important, appropriate, and not made to induce an action or obtain an advantage (regardless of the value of the gift), it may be made under the following circumstances.  Gifts of nominal value purchased with University funds and publicly presented to foreign officials as part of conventional hospitality or as a token of appreciation in the context of a visit are generally acceptable if given to highlight Yale and work done with Yale.  Safest are those that are tied directly to Yale and its mission, e.g., a copy of a book by a faculty member; a scarf bearing a Yale insignia; or a photograph of the Yale campus.  The more personal the gift, the less likely such a payment can be defended in this way.  Any such gifts should be valued at $100 or less in order to avoid raising any questions about their propriety under law and to be consistent with University policy.  See Yale Policy 3303, Gifts from University Funds, section 3303.4, Institutional Gifts. 


Updated: 04-10-2014