All set for your next trip to Disney World?
Well, imagine this: you’re all set for a carefree family vacay to Disney World, but hold on. What if I told you that this dreamy trip could take an unexpected turn, involving federal agents and a whole lot less magic? Sounds like a movie plot twist, right? Well, it’s not fiction. It’s the real-world impact of a game-changing law that’s shaking up how the U.S. deals with corruption globally. Let’s talk about it!
So what are we talking about? We’re talking about the Foreign Extortion Prevention Act (FEPA) that was signed into law on December 22, 2023. It’s because of this law that people are suddenly getting arrested on their way to the most magical place on earth. Let’s not waste any more time and jump right into what surely feels like the intersection of where Disney World becomes a rendezvous point for both enchantment and the long arm of the law. Buckle up. It’s going to be dense.
FEPA is this sneaky little thing hidden in a massive defense spending bill that was approved by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden in December 2023. What does it do? It criminalizes the demand or receipt of bribes by foreign officials from public corporations or U.S. domestic concerns. Before FEPA became a thing, The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), came into law in 1977. It made bribery a crime, but only on the “supply side.” We can thank Congress for finally closing out this loophole.
Back to FEPA, it’s also got this cool extraterritorial thing going on too, making it a crime in the U.S. even if the shady business goes down somewhere else.
Leveling out the (Business) Playing Field
Why should you care about FEPA? Well, it’s about fairness for American businesses. Corrupt foreign officials, and those acting on their behalf, have, for a LONG TIME, created an unfair market by engaging in bribery. FEPA wants to slap some deterrence on the “demand side” of bribery, making sure our businesses can play on a level field.
Taking on Corruption Globally
But wait, there’s more! FEPA also takes a swing at ending corruption globally. Foreign commercial bribery messes with foreign governments, undermines democracy, and tramples on human rights. What FEPA is doing is stepping in to reduce the temptation for foreign corruption and support reforms in those nations.
Getting with the (International) Program (Finally!!)
Now that FEPA is in the game, it’s like the U.S. is finally joining the cool kids’ club. As a member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Anti-Bribery Convention, we’re FINALLY on the same page as everyone else.
What’s this got to do with Walt Disney World?
I’m so glad you asked. As you can imagine, foreign fugitives have a lot of money, and just like us law-abiding citizens, they enjoy taking their families on vacations. This is where Disney World comes to the rescue!
It turns out that as of 2024, foreign officials can now be indicted in the U.S. for demanding or receiving a bribe, and they don’t even know they’ve been indicted! The indictment stays sealed until they step into the U.S. or any of the 110+ nations with extradition treaties.
So, if said foreign government official doesn’t know about the charges and decides to take their family to Disney World for an innocent visit, they will now be arrested. This was the case with Former Volkswagen executive Oliver Schmidt, one of the architects of the “Dieselgate” scandal, who took his family on a Florida vacation.
I know that was dense and it sounded like a movie plot twist that even Disney would envy, but it is interesting that Disney World would be making headlines for reasons you wouldn’t expect.
Well, until next time, we’ll continue to keep you all updated with more Disney news every day, so make sure to follow along for more so that you never miss a thing!
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