According to the website Main Justice, the U.S. Justice Department has clarified its position on a key interpretation of the FCPA anti-bribery provisions. The Department, through its line prosecutors in an on-going matter, had previously intoned that to be convicted under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, an individual must be aware that the recipient of a bribe is an official of a foreign government. The clarified interpretation suggests that the defendant need not know in what specific official capacity the intended recipient was acting, but the defendant must know or have believed that the intended recipient had authority to act in a certain manner. While the "clarification" does little to make the earlier guidance less opaque, what is more clear is that the DoJ will not depart from their guidance to prosecutors that they - in order to get a conviction and for criminal sanctions to be imposed - are not required to prove that the briber knew the definition of "foreign official" under the law or that the individual being bribed falls under that definition. Criticism within the higher levels of the Department of Justice as to the previous DoJ guidance on this issue (see our blog) apparently caused line prosecutors to issue a narrower interpretation in the on-going matter. As this issue evolves, we should expect to see more controversy around one of the most hotly contested terms in the FCPA arena — "foreign official" — and the DoJ continuing to attempt to take knowledge of the definition itself out of the hands of the defendants and instead leaving it up to judges and juries to decide. This in turn will raise a host of other issues - obviously not the least of which is whether not knowing an official's exact title or the legal definition of 'foreign official" will (or will not) allow a putative defendant to avoid alleged FCPA violations.