Companies have used corporate social responsibility (CSR) payments to bribe foreign government officials to obtain business and competitive advantages. This type of information can be valuable if reported to the SEC under the Dodd-Frank reward program. FCPA whistleblower rewards are available to almost anyone who reports corporate bribery – including schemes involving the use of CSR funds – to the SEC.
Government officials will seek bribes from corporate social responsibility funds for their pet projects or for projects that can benefit themselves. In return, these officials will assist the companies in their business efforts. There are multiple instances where government officials – in some cases tender committee officials – have made requests to companies to fund certain projects that will benefit the officials personally. Sometimes, officials request companies to use CSR payments to engage certain vendors or suppliers in order to assist with a particular project. Those third-party suppliers and consultants are often affiliated with or related to the government official making the request. Officials being bribed through CSR payments is common in Africa but also has taken place in Asia and South America as well.
Corporate regulatory affairs personnel often meet with government officials to discuss obtaining permits and licenses. During these meetings, government officials will ask company personnel to help fund – typically through the CSR budget – the officials’ pet projects in return for obtaining the permit or license being requested. Officials will request the company to engage a particular vendor or supplier to work on the project, which is affiliated with the official.
If anyone is aware of his or her company using CSR payments to bribe a government official or engaging a suspicious vendor, lobbyist, or consultant in connection with influencing a government official to help on a particular issue or with winning a government contract, bid, tender, or deal, then this information could be extremely valuable.