Nicola Sharp of business crime solicitors Rahman Ravelli believes the move reflects the UK's approach.

Foreign officials that request or accept bribes from Americans could face fines and prison sentences under legislation recently introduced in the US House of Representatives.

The Foreign Extortion Prevention Act (FEPA) would expand domestic anti-bribery statutes by targeting any officer or employee of a foreign government or public international organisation (or anyone deputising for them) who "corruptly demands, seeks, receives, accepts, or agrees to receive or accept anything of value" in return for influencing governmental actions.

The bill would complement the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), which prevents US officials from accepting such bribes. Under FEPA, anyone found guilty could serve up to two years in prison, be fined up to three times the value of what constituted the bribe or both.

Co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of legislators, FEPA will make all extortion by foreign officials involving Americans abroad a criminal offence.

As yet the bill is some way from becoming law. But it does show that the US is aware that there is an issue that it needs to tackle – and it is prepared to take steps to tackle it.

It is worth noting that the UK's Bribery Act 2010 has a specific offence, under Section 6, of bribing a foreign official. As the UK's Act is widely regarded as the most far-reaching piece of anti-bribery legislation in the world it is perhaps unsurprising if other jurisdictions – in this case the United States – wish to introduce a similar measure.

While bribery in relation to public officials has long been recognised as a problem that has to be tackled in various parts of the world, the legislation has often not been in place to enable this to be done.

Read more about Global Bribery and Corruption Investigations here.

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