Dear Harry: I speak several foreign languages, so I was a perfect candidate for an overseas job that paid me almost twice what I had been earning. While I was there, I was authorized to offer "commissions" to government employees who "expedited" approval of contracts. I paid out many thousands of dollars. After several years, I was transferred back to the states for an even better job. Last week, I discovered that there is a law called the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act that seems to make my payment of commissions an illegal act. I called the company's legal department, and I was told by the top honcho that the company was only doing what all its competitors were doing so there was nothing to worry about. At first, I accepted this response, but then I started to worry all over again. The company's outside law firm refused to speak with me. Harry, I'm terribly frightened that I'm in very hot water. You'll notice that I did not name my company or the country I was in because I'm afraid to be identified. Am I in trouble? Any advice?
What Harry says: You could very well be in trouble. Get a lawyer on your side now! Do not go to the firm that represents the company. What you were doing might have been the custom where you were, but our law applies to you and your company wherever you are. If your lawyer is convinced that there was a violation of the law, consider whether you want to stay with such a company. Good luck! *
Write Harry Gross c/o the Daily News, 400 N. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19130.