I participated in a useful Webinar, organized by Thomson Reuters and The Volkov Law Group, on Anti-Corruption Compliance. The speakers started by highlighting the following increasing trends:
- Prosecutors around the globe are working collaboratively, which is evidenced by the increase in multi-jurisdiction settlements
- Prosecutors are targeting more individual liability cases
- In the US, concentration of bigger, more sensitive, enforcement cases with the DOJ, leaving the smaller ones to the SEC.
The speakers provided practical advice to face these new challenges, including the need to maintain a strong and effective ethics & compliance program to avoid fines and enforcement actions and, more important, to avoid damage to the employees’ morale, clients’ trust and overall reputation.
Effective program, in this context, implies, besides obvious elements (e.g., keeping policies and procedures accesible, training employees and third parties and maintaining an anonymous reporting channel), the definition of not-differentiated discipline mechanisms for non-compliance with the program; the identification and assessment of red flags; the maintenance of standardized and transparent contracting, invoice and payment procedures for third parties; and the establishment of efficient due diligence procedures that allow the identification of the ultimate beneficial owners.
Perhaps the most important remark for me was the emphasis on getting the Board of Directors’ involvement, as a strong allied to foster a strong ethical culture within the organization. One of the speakers highlighted the Cognizant (2019) case, as a recent case exemplifying the type of involvement that a Board should have, in which the Board was the one reporting the incident to the United States’s Department of Justice. As I have expressed in a recent article, Board members must get actively involved nowadays in anti bribery and anti corruption matters.