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Riesenfeld Symposium Special: Ivanhoe Lunch Talk

Article by Adnan Toric


Photo by Adnan Toric

Tuesday, February 26, Berkeley Law’s Hana Ivanhoe spoke to a room of Berkeley Law students in anticipation of the annual Riesenfeld Symposium. The symposium will be hosted at Berkeley Law on Friday, March 1, lasting from 12pm-7pm. This year the symposium focuses on Anti-Corruption bringing speakers from various private sector, international, and academic organizations, Ivanhoe being one of them. Ivanhoe is a lecturer at University of California, Berkeley, School of Law. She teaches U.S. legal scholarship and U.S. international law governing corruption. Ivanhoe’s scholarship focuses on business and human rights as well as corporate corruption.


In her talk, Ivanhoe discussed Anti-Corruption and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) to touch on laws that the symposium covers. The FCPA prohibits offering or paying money or anything of value to a foreign official to either influence that official to act or decide in a certain way or to secure some sort of improper advantage in order to obtain or retain business with a corrupt intent. The FCPA is expansive and covers a lot of legal issues with the talk covering basic aspects of it.


Generally, Ivanhoe discussed the broad implications of corporate corruption ranging from nepotism, poverty, and unethical business practices. She also discussed the universe of corrupt acts encompassing everything from politics to business practices. Ivanhoe precipitated the symposium with a general overview of public sector and private sector corruption and the decision to enact the FCPA. The FCPA was grounded in anxiety over events like Watergate coupled with concerns of foreign policy impact.


Ivanhoe broke down each aspect of the FCPA from defining what constitutes anything of value to what is a foreign official. The FCPA’s jurisdiction is contentious along with its application as too expansive because most people and transactions fall under its jurisdiction. Furthermore, local laws interplay with the FCPA abroad often creating defenses for individuals.


The FCPA primer was a brief but exciting preview of the upcoming symposium. Corporate and governmental corruption touch on central questions of fairness and justice. The symposium will feature more intensive and varied opportunities for those interested to discuss corruption and the law including the keynote speaker and Riesenfeld Award Recipient, Iván Velásquez Gómez. Gómez is the UN High Commissioner of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) and has done extensive work with Guatemala’s Attorney General’s Office to dismantle corruption within the country.