US corporations are looking over their shoulders, thanks to a Justice Department crackdown on foreign bribery, the Wall Street Journal reports. At least 120 companies are being investigated under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or FCPA—a nearly-forgotten Nixon-era law dusted off in the wake of a rash of corporate scandals—which forbids companies from currying favor with foreign governments with payments or gifts. Among those being investigated are Sun Microsystems and Royal Dutch Shell.
Titan Corp and Lucent have both been forced to pay big fines in recent years for violating the law, and now companies are looking for ways to protect themselves. Some have even called the Justice Department to confess, hoping for leniency. “When you have a law that can result in jail time,” said the president of an anti-bribery nonprofit, “and that you can violate without actually realizing it, that's terrifying.”