Lisa Rickard, US Chamber of CommerceThe Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Justice Department have finally released a long-awaited guide to the controversial Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), but the volume has landed with a dull thud in corporate America's legal departments and risk management offices.

The 120-page guide offers interpretations and clarifications of various aspects of the law, including real-life examples of cases (with company names deleted) in which the SEC or the Justice Department prosecuted a company for violating the act or decided some company action was not a violation or didn't warrant bringing a case.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has been lobbying Congress to amend the act to protect companies from prosecution, for example by prosecuting only cases involving substantial bribes or long histories of bribery, expressed mild approval. Lisa A. Rickard, president of the Chamber's Institute for Legal Reform, at right, calls the guide "an important step forward in an ongoing process of providing much-needed clarity and certainty" a not-so-veiled hint that the organization plans to continue its lobbying to change the law.

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