Anti-Bribery Laws

Anti-bribery laws prohibit a broad range of corrupt activities.  Many people incorrectly assume these laws only deal with cash bribes paid to government officials.  But Yale’s daily activities both on campus and abroad could implicate both the U.S. and another country’s anti-bribery laws, often in unexpected ways.  For example, providing a gift when visiting a foreign country could violate the relevant U.S. law (the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or “FCPA”).

Contact the Office of the General Counsel for assistance with structuring activities that involve non-U.S. participants to comply with the FCPA and other countries’ anti-bribery laws.

Violations of the FCPA contain three elements:  (1) a payment or something of value is offered, promised, or given (2) to a foreign official, political party, party official, or candidate (3) for a corrupt purpose.

“Something of value” extends beyond cash and gifts.  Examples include but are not limited to per diems, travel and meals, gifts, training or scholarships, employment, and charitable donations.

The FCPA defines “foreign official” broadly.  Agents, and employees of a foreign government may include professors and employees of state universities, advisors to ministries, members of government committees, healthcare professionals at state-owned or controlled hospitals, employees of public international organizations (such as the World Bank), and members of a royal family.  The official need not be high-ranking and the designation applies also to the relatives and friends of the official. 

You are acting with a corrupt purpose if you offer, promise, or provide something of value to a foreign official (either directly or through a third party) to improperly influence the foreign official in order to obtain, retain, or direct business or to secure any improper business advantage.

You cannot make a payment to a third party if you know (or should know) that some or all of that payment will be used in a way that violates the FCPA.  In other words, you cannot legally ask or hire someone else to do something you are not legally allowed to do yourself.

A violation of the FCPA is considered to have occurred even if the effort does not work out.

Last updated: 05/24/2023

The following examples of activities, when they involve foreign officials, warrant consideration of FCPA requirements:

  • Collaborations with foreign institutions where the partner institution is owned or run by its government
  • Events hosted by Yale on campus or overseas that include foreign officials
  • Projects, sponsored or otherwise, that involve interactions with foreign officials such as projects that require government-issued licenses, approvals or permits
  • Activities that require the hiring of foreign agents or consultants
  • Education programs offered by Yale either overseas or on campus in which foreign officials may enroll
Last updated: 12/13/2021
  • Steer clear of any payment that may be perceived to give you an advantage over others or otherwise could be construed to be a bribe.
  • Conduct thorough due diligence on any third party including vendors, agents, consultants and partners.
  • Pay attention to red flags:  the third party was recommended by a foreign official; unusual payments (cash fees or unusually high commissions) or financial arrangements (personal off-shore accounts); secrecy (e.g., lack of transparency in invoices); lack of qualifications to perform services.  If these red flags are present you must conduct more thorough due diligence to ensure this relationship will comply with the FCPA and local laws.
  • Maintain accurate and current financial records of international transactions, including receipts.
  • Implement and maintain robust internal controls.
  • Know, and apply, Yale’s policy “Gifts from University Funds” (Policy 3303).
  • When giving gifts, stick to items of nominal value, be mindful of how the recipient may interpret the gift, present it publicly and as an expression of conventional hospitality, and consider presenting as gifts items that are tied directly to Yale and its mission (e.g., The Yale Collection).
Last updated: 12/13/2021

Depending upon the activity and its location, other countries’ laws may also be relevant.  Some, such as the U.K. Bribery Act, are stricter than their U.S. counterpart and may extend to transactions with private persons as well as foreign officials.

Last updated: 12/13/2021