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Congress OKs Int’l Bribery Pact

October 21, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Legislation approving an agreement with other major industrial countries to crack down on bribery in international business transactions won final congressional approval Wednesday. The White House said President Clinton will sign it this week.

The Senate passed the bill by voice vote without debate, a day after House passage.

White House spokeswoman Amy Weiss said Clinton planned to sign the bill in the next several days. ``The United States already has very tough anti-bribery laws and this agreement will make sure American businesses have a level playing field when competing for business overseas,″ Weiss said.

The agreement calls on major U.S. trading partners to have their legislatures pass criminal laws against bribery.

The United States is one of the few countries with laws against using bribes to advance foreign business deals. American executives have complained for years that the 20-year-old Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, passed in 1977, puts them at a disadvantage in trying to secure foreign contracts.

Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., the Senate sponsor, said the legislation ``will put America on a level footing with foreign companies while combating bribery.″

The administration sought approval of the measure, known as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development convention against bribery.

Commerce Secretary William Daley, in a statement, said bribery of foreign officials costs U.S. companies billions of dollars a year in lost contracts.

``For more than 20 years, the United States has enforced our anti-bribery legislation while other countries have given tax deductions to companies for their bribes,″ he said. ``Under this convention, our trading partners will enact prohibitions that will end this practice.″

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