The Justice Department yesterday disclosed details of guidance it gave to four corporations about whether they might be vulnerable to prosecution for questionable foreign payments.
It was the first time such guidance was provided under a policy announced last March after American companies complained of confusion about what might be illegal under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977.
The act makes it a crime for an officer, director or employe of a U.S. corporation to pay or offer to pay a bribe to a foreign official, political party or candidate in exchange for influence.
Yesterday, Justice told Lockheed Corp. that it "does not presently intend to take any enforcement action" because of the company's dealing with a Saudi Arabian firm, The Olayan Group, run by Suliman S. Olayan, a powerful Saudi businessman, who agreed not to use his influence to help Lockheed.
In another action, Justice said it didn't see any violations if an unnamed law firm doing business in an undisclosed foreign country set up a $10,000 education fund for the adopted children of an honorary official of that country.
But Justice "declined to respond" to a query from an unnamed company proposing a contract with a West African attorney.
Justice apparently saw no problem in an employe of Castle & Cooke Inc., a food-processing company, running for office in a foreign country.