Compliance Roundup: Company Policies, SFO Convictions, Criminal Intent, Language Barriers, & More

For your reference, here’s a roundup of recent law firm commentary on key issues facing global corporations in their ongoing fight against corruption and bribery:

Compliance Rules for Compliance Sakes? (Michael Volkov) 

“A strict policy without any rational justification is a costly policy. Too many companies simply adopt a flat amount for certain expenditures above which prior approval may be required. Companies are apparently competing on how can be the toughest. This is not the best way to achieve compliance.” Read more» 

SFO Obtains Convictions in Private Sector Oil and Gas Corruption Case (Morrison & Foerster LLP)

“The UK Serious Fraud Office has recently obtained convictions against four individuals who received corrupt payments in return for the disclosure of confidential procurement information relating to the award of £66 million offshore oil and gas engineering contracts in Iran, Egypt, Russia, Singapore and Abu Dhabi. This case and the sentences handed down highlight the increasing appetite of the UK authorities for high-profile prosecutions under anti-corruption legislation.” Read more»

Focusing on Criminal Intent (Michael Volkov)

“It is one thing to have a policy which requires prior approval for any gift to a foreign official with a value of over $50 but it is another to examine the amount, the employee’s intent, the context and the surrounding circumstances to determine if the employee was giving the gift with the intent to break the law – ultimately that is the question and the standard to apply.” Read more»

Lost in Translation: Handling language barriers with FCPA work in the Americas (Matteson Ellis)

“International anti-corruption work involves bridging language barriers more often than it does not. In the Americas, this usually means moving from English to Spanish and/or Portuguese, and sometimes French. The job is much easier if you speak the language. Practitioners can translate compliance policies, conduct interviews in the witness’s native language, conduct bi-lingual trainings, and review public records about third parties from original sources. If you do not speak the language, you will need to work with translators.” Read more»

Code of Conduct – The Cornerstone of Your FCPA Compliance Program (Thomas Fox)

“The substance of your Code of Conduct should be tailored to the company’s culture, and to its industry and corporate identity. It should provide a mechanism by which employees who are trying to do the right thing in the compliance and business ethics arena to do so. The Code of Conduct can be used as a basis for employee review and evaluation.” Read more»

Violence, Threats, and Anti-Corruption Compliance (Matteson Ellis)

“Every time I hear someone say, ‘but corruption is just the way business is done in some countries’ – as if this were an excuse – I cannot help but think about the real risks at play. Corruption is a crime. It is conducted by people who operate outside of the law. Once you are operating outside of the law by stealing from the public, (i.e., once you are a criminal), the leap is not far to hiring gunmen on motorbikes to kill people.” Read more»

Lin-sanity, the Mintz Group “Where the Bribes Are” Map and Compliance Programs (Thomas Fox)

“One of the things often overlooked, in not only the implementation but the ongoing enhancement of a compliance program, is the wealth of talent that is available to your compliance department in the form of your employee base. I have previously written about the usefulness of the local compliance champion and how companies as diverse as Coca-Cola and Halliburton make use of such local personnel in their overall compliance efforts. However, there are many people in your company who not only want to do business in the right way but want their company to succeed in such efforts.” Read more»

The Justice Department’s Slippery Slope — Enforcement Versus Regulation (Michael Volkov)

“It is hard to argue against prosecutions of private companies and individuals who engage in foreign bribery. Such conduct skews competition in the global marketplace, undermines the integrity of foreign governments and threatens to destabilize governments… Our national interest supports reducing foreign bribery to protect the integrity of the global economy and foreign governments. But there is something wrong here with the Department’s approach. Maybe it is because many FCPA practitioners operate inside the Beltway. Something is amiss.” Read more»

Attorney Client Privilege for In-House Counsel (Thomas Fox)

“The question of attorney-client privilege for in-house counsel can be a vexing one, yet one that has significant implications for investigations and enforcement actions under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) or other anti-corruption legislation. There is a split decision between the US and countries in the European Union on whether in-house counsel may engage in privileged communications with corporate employers… This question of whether the privilege exists for communications will certainly increase due to the increase in international enforcement actions in the area of anti-corruption and anti-bribery under laws such as the FCPA and UK Bribery Act.” Read more»


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