U.S. v. Esquenazi: The Eleventh Circuit Broadly Defines “Foreign Official” Under the FCPA

In a significant win for the Department of Justice (“DOJ”), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit adopted the DOJ’s broad interpretation of the term “foreign official” under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”). The Eleventh Circuit’s decision in United States v. Esquenazi is the first appellate court interpretation of the meaning of “foreign official.” The unanimous panel rejected the defendants’ argument in favor of a limited definition and, instead, adopted the DOJ’s position that “fact-bound questions” must be answered on a case-by-case basis to determine whether a state-owned or state-controlled enterprise is an instrumentality of a foreign government such that its employees are foreign officials.

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