Donald Trump attacked the law that bans American companies bribing foreign officials on Tuesday, saying the United States has no business being the “policeman of the world.”
Speaking on CNBC’s Squawk Box, Trump said U.S. authorities shouldn’t be prosecuting Americans who adopt the customs and practices of the countries in which they are trying to do business.
“This country is absolutely crazy,” Trump said. “They prosecute people for going over to China and Mexico and other countries and getting business and creating jobs in this country.”
Trump was speaking specifically about the scandal that has enveloped Wal-Mart, which has been accused of paying millions of dollars to Mexican officials as it expands into that country. The company is being investigated under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).
The FCPA, which was signed into law by President Jimmy Carter, makes it illegal for American businesses to make bribes to foreign officials, unless the laws of the country specifically allow such payments. Speculation has grown in recent weeks that Rupert Murdoch’s News Group could also be hit under the act for paying off British officials in return for leaking newspaper stories.
But Trump called for the act to be overturned. “Let Mexico or let China or let these other countries prosecute,” he said. “Why are we prosecuting to keep China honest?
“Every other country goes into these places and they do what they have to do,” Trump pointed out.
“It’s a horrible law and it should be changed. We are like the policeman for the world. It’s ridiculous.”
Staples founder Tom Stemberg, who was on the show with Trump, agreed. But he said companies should include overseas bribes in their financial statements. “Disclose it,” Stemberg said. “Make people put it in a proxy that we spent $227 million making payments to foreign officials, so it’s out there.
“Donald’s right,” said Stemberg. “And for those do-gooders who say this shouldn’t happen, disclose it.
“The slippery slope is already there. You either do business or you don’t.”
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