Mercy for the corrupt who come clean?

Adapted from an article published in The Christian Science Monitor, July 26, 2016.

To expose and punish corruption, governments have long relied on tough tools, from wiretaps to time in prison. But what if a business volunteers that it committed bribery? Should the confession lead to mercy if the company also mends its ways and makes amends?

The issue is front-and-center for two countries, Tunisia and the United States, that are highly focused on curbing corruption. They are each in the midst of an experiment to find out if judicial leniency, granted in return for truth-telling, can be a major tool against corruption.

In April, the US Justice Department started a pilot program aimed at motivating companies to voluntarily disclose any violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, such as paying bribes to a foreign official. If a firm fesses up on its own, it may see up to a 50 percent reduction in penalties and be free of independent monitoring of its businesses. It would also need to fully cooperate with federal investigators and fix internal practices to prevent further corruption.

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