Stanford Law School’s New Database Provides Insight on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

Joseph A. Grundfest 1
Joseph A. Grundfest, JD ’78, W. A. Franke Professor of Law and Business

Stanford Law School (SLS) has launched a new public database that provides documents, resources and analytic tools designed to foster awareness of the fight against global corruption. This database, called the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Clearinghouse (FCPAC), was spearheaded by SLS Professor Joseph Grundfest, who also founded the award-winning Stanford Securities Class Action Clearinghouse.

The FCPAC is a free, comprehensive database of enforcement actions and information related to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). It allows users to search and sort data about enforcement actions, view original documents, access relevant laws and precedent, and read articles about FCPA compliance and enforcement. It is a public service provided through the Arthur and Toni Rembe Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford Law School. It’s available at

In this interview with the Stanford Lawyer, Professor Grundfest discusses the significance of this new tool.

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Clearinghouse helps build awareness of the battle against global corruption.
The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Clearinghouse helps build awareness of the battle against global corruption.

How will this database help our government fight bribery and other forms of corruption in international commercial relations?

Many organizations are unclear about the serious consequences that follow from Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) violations. They are unaware of the magnitude of the penalties that are imposed, the implications of having monitors appointed to supervise firm activities, and the risk that executives can be incarcerated. By aggregating and curating the relevant data, the FCPA Clearinghouse makes all these risks transparent.

How will the FCPA Clearinghouse be useful to the general public, business leaders, law firms and others?

Organization and searchability are the keys to the Clearinghouse’s success. By collecting and organizing the relevant documents and information, we strive to create a database that anticipates user demands and provides relevant information. And, by building a fully searchable database, the Clearinghouse offers a new and powerful tool that provides insights that would otherwise be difficult to generate. It is thus far more than a data dump of FCPA-related information. It’s a new tool for exploring the operation of one of the world’s most powerful weapons in the fight against global corruption.

Why did you and Stanford Law School take on this project—creating a free-access database?

Free access, well-curated, deeply searchable databases are, I believe, part of the wave of the future when it comes to legal research for scholars and practitioners alike. We are fortunate to be located in Silicon Valley, with access to a terrific combination of legal and technological skill. And, given the strong multi-disciplinary ethos that pervades the campus, building this sort of a database seems a natural fit, particularly given the remarkable success we have had with the Securities Class Action Clearinghouse, which dominates research relating to class action securities fraud litigation.

Who created the database and how long did it take?

The database was built and populated primarily by our team of Stanford Law School researchers: Juan Carlos Sanchez, Kristen Savelle and William Garrett, with help from a small army of additional contributors. The project started in earnest almost three years ago, so it hasn’t been an overnight effort. Also, we’ve benefited from the extraordinary input of attorneys at Sullivan & Cromwell, the Clearinghouse’s sponsor. Those attorneys are in the trenches on a daily basis dealing with the complex issues raised by the FCPA, and their experience has been essential to the construction of a database that will be responsive to user needs.

For more information, see this news announcement about the database.