Anti-Corruption regulation continues to develop teeth worldwide

canadianflagA bill was recently introduced to the Canadian Parliament (Bill S-14) that seeks to amend the existing Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act, strengthening that law and broadening its scope.

The amendments proposed would, among other things:

  • Remove an existing exemption on Facilitation Payments;
  • Criminalize the falsifying of accounting records to hide corruption, and;
  • Expand the jurisdiction of the law to any Canadian citizen, legal resident, or any company or entity organized under Canadian law – regardless of the location of the offence.

(Check the guest blog post on Thomas Fox’s blog – written by a team at McCarthy Tetrault LLP – for more insight into the proposed legislation in Canada.)

Headlines on anti-corruption charges, investigations and fines hit the news daily, along with new legislation proposed or new enforcement measures taken.  These headlines are coming from around the world – in every corner of the globe and in every market where you are doing business.

If you received a notice of a pending investigation into anti-corruption allegations tomorrow, would your organization be ready to respond?

Check out some past policyIQ blog posts on how policyIQ can help you to organize everything anti-corruption related from your risk assessments to policy distribution (and sign-off) through the documentation of gift and expense reporting.  Then contact Resources Global Professionals and our policyIQ team so that we can help you to evaluate your current anti-corruption measures and ensure that you are ready.

120 Pages of Non-Stop FCPA Compliance Action!

newsIn mid-December, the US Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission released much anticipated new guidance on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).  This resource guide – 120 pages in length, but a surprisingly interesting read (at least for this geek) – outlines the DOJ and SEC priorities around FCPA, enforcement guidelines and attempts to clarify grey areas through the use of case studies and examples.

In January, Thomas Fox, FCPA expert and consultant for Resources Global Professionals, presented his take on the guidance in a webinar, “The New DOJ FCPA Guidelines: A Resources for the Compliance Practitioner”. (A recording of that webinar is available in the RGP event library.)

Anti-Corruption Compliance Continues to be Top of Mind

The subject of FCPA and Anti-Bribery compliance continues to be top of mind for our policyIQ team, as it is certainly top of mind for many clients of RGP.  Virtually every morning there is at least one article at the top of my newsfeed pointing to developments or new perspectives on anti-corruption compliance.   One of those recent articles, published on Tuesday on The FCPA Blog (Step Aside, ten elements, and make way for the hallmarks), highlights the Hallmarks of Effective Compliance Programs, as outlined in the recently released DOJ and SEC FCPA guidance.  Mr. Richard Cassin, publisher of The FCPA Blog, suggests that these hallmarks “go to the heart of the matter” – and it isn’t hard to understand why.

The Hallmarks of Effective Compliance Programs

1. Commitment from senior management and a clearly articulated policy against corruption

2. Code of conduct and compliance policies and procedures

3. Oversight, autonomy, and resources

4. Risk assessment

5. Training and continuing advice

6. Incentives and disciplinary measures

7. Third-party due diligence and payments

8. Confidential reporting and internal investigations apparatus

9. Continuous improvement: periodic testing and review, and

10. Mergers and acquisitions: pre-acquisition due diligence and post-acquisition integration.

These ten hallmarks certainly do lay out a good plan for moving ahead with anti-corruption compliance, but it is important to recognize that there is not a one size fits all approach to how to implement your program.  As the authors of the guidance point out,

Compliance programs that employ a “check-the-box” approach may be inefficient and, more importantly, ineffec­tive. Because each compliance program should be tailored to an organization’s specific needs, risks, and challenges, the information provided below should not be considered a substitute for a company’s own assessment of the corpo­rate compliance program most appropriate for that particu­lar business organization.

How policyIQ and Resources Global Professionals can help

Your organization’s needs around anti-corruption compliance will depend on your level of risk – with factors ranging from what industry you are in, in what areas of the world you conduct business, and how much you rely on third party partners.  As we mentioned, this is a subject that is top of mind for many of our clients – and therefore, we’ve been spending time recently developing solutions to help our clients manage their Anti-Corruption compliance program effectively and efficiently in policyIQ, with varying levels of complexity.

policyIQ can help you to manage risk assessments, code of conduct, related training and sign-offs, confidential reporting and follow-up, third-party due diligence, oversight, and audit.  policyIQ can also be used to more effectively manage due diligence around acquisitions or help to streamline the integration of new business units.

Contact us for a demo of how policyIQ can help your organization to effectively implement an anti-corruption program!

Season’s Greetings and Happy New Year from your friends at policyIQ!

xmasornamentOur policyIQ team wanted to take a moment to send you all our best wishes, and to take a look back at 2012.

We started off the year by listening to you

We started off this year with our client survey, asking you how we could improve our policyIQ product, our support and our services. So many of you took the time to let us know how we were doing and what we could be doing better – and your feedback has been invaluable. Based on your feedback, we . . .

  • Took a new approach to training by focusing on providing some simplified job aids (checklists and tip sheets).
  • Launched our new blog with easier searching and tagging, so that we could make our written information more accessible to all of you.
  • Implemented a new process around reviewing and responding to all feature requests on a bi-weekly basis, to get you feedback more quickly and consistently.

We have added to and improved the policyIQ solutions offered

We’ve also worked on new policyIQ solutions for Conflict Minerals Compliance, improved our offering for Anti-Corruption Compliance and took a look at how we can Streamline your Internal Audit Testing.

We can’t wait to launch the next generation of policyIQ: Version 7.0!

Of course, our biggest project this year has been our work on policyIQ version 7.0, which was launched to a number of beta clients last month. We heard your need for cross-browser compatibility, simplified navigation and improved speed – and we incorporated that into the next generation of policyIQ. The feedback from our beta clients has been extremely positive. Here are just a couple of recent quotes:

  • It’s so much faster!
  • Much more friendly without the modules.
  • It’s nice to not have so many pop-ups.
  • Very intuitive! If you’ve used a previous version of policyIQ, there is no additional training necessary.

We are looking forward to rolling our version 7.0 in the start of 2013!

We consider ourselves to be extremely lucky to have such an engaged community of policyIQ users, and we are happy to continue to have opportunities to work with you all to create success for your organizations. We can never thank you enough.

From myself and the entire policyIQ team, we want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and the very best in the coming New Year!

Resources Global Special CPE Webcast: The New Department of Justice FCPA Guidelines

Under_InvestigationThe Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”), legislation that has existed in the United States for almost 40 years, has been an extremely hot topic over the past several years, as a result of an increase in investigations and penalties. In 2010, a specialized unit was created to boost enforcement of the FCPA which produced charges to be filed against many organizations.

You may have attended the FCPA session presented by Resources Global earlier this year. Since then, new guidelines have been introduced by the US Department of Justice and we want to ensure that you are aware of these additions.

Please join, once again, Thomas Robert Fox, FCPA expert, and the Resources Global Team on Tuesday, December 18th, 2012 at 12:00pm EST for “The New DOJ FCPA Guidelines: A Resource for the Compliance Practitioner” webinar.

This session looks at —

  • a risk based approach to FCPA compliance;
  • the importance of compliance programs;
  • clarification of gifts and entertainment;
  • M&A under the FCPA; and
  • how to perform due diligence on third parties.

Click here to register for this valuable session.

policyIQ can help ensure compliance with your FCPA procedures.

After listening in on the training session, reach out to our policyIQ team so that we may discuss how policyIQ can contribute to an effective anti-corruption compliance program. Policies and procedures, risk assessment, vendor due diligence and gift and entertainment reporting can all be captured in this central location, with audit trail, policy sign-offs, and reporting capabilities.

Also, check out our FCPA blog series and keep up to date on the happenings of this Anti-Bribery and Anti-Corruption effort.

Foreign Corrupt Practices Act: Did the Wal-Mart case get your attention?

dirtymoney

On April 21st, the New York Times published their investigation into Wal-Mart’s expansion into Mexico.  According to the NY Times investigation, Wal-Mart relied on a “campaign of bribery” to fuel their expansion into the country, which now accounts for about 1/5 of all Wal-Mart stores.  When the alleged bribery was brought to the attention of the Wal-Mart executives, they focused more on covering up and shutting down the investigation, according to the article, rather than reporting the potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act to the SEC and the US Department of Justice.

Was their wrongdoing at Wal-Mart?  What will the consequences be?  We’ll leave that up to the countless blogs and articles already dedicated to that topic.  The topic of anti-corruption and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act is one that we’ve addressed in the policyIQ blog several times – but we suspect that it hasn’t felt like a priority for many companies.  It seems clear that the FCPA cannot be ignored, and if you haven’t been paying attention before, surely you are now.

If you are doing any business internationally and you don’t have an anti-corruption program, get started now.

1. Start with a risk assessment.

It might be that your international business is extremely low risk – and as a result, your anti-corruption program will be justifiably minor. Your risk assessment should evaluate the overall risk, and for more complex international organizations, you should evaluate which areas of your business and which positions within your organizational structure are the highest risk.

2. Establish your Policies and Procedures

At the very least you should have a policy in place that addresses what constitutes bribery and corruption, the consequences of participating in it, and your company’s commitment to investigating it. If you are a high risk organization, however, your policies need to go further. You need to address specific situations, and provide procedures and guidance on how to handle those situations.  You also want to establish vendor due diligence procedures to carefully vet vendors prior to creating partnerships.

3. Train your employees

The level of training will again depend on your risk assessment. Publishing and communicating the policy may be enough if you have established that the risk is very low. Formal training, policy sign-offs and personal conversations may be necessary, however, for the high risk organizations. High risk employees should also have a higher level of training.

4. Train your vendors, partners and stakeholders

For high risk organizations who rely on vendors and partners worldwide to act on their behalf, it’s not enough to just keep the training internal. Your company can be held responsible for the actions taken on your behalf – and you need to assure that they are acting within the guidelines.

5. Document everything

Your anti-corruption program is intended to prevent corruption and bribery. That should be its primary purpose.  The program should also have a secondary goal of minimizing any investigative costs should a corruption or bribery claim come up.  If the Department of Justice or the SEC chooses to investigate, having clearly documented policies, procedures, training plans, training records, internal reporting procedures, gift and entertainment expense documentation, and vendor due diligence records will keep investigation and discovery costs low.

policyIQ can help

Last fall, we presented a webinar about how you can implement your anti-corruption program in policyIQ.  You can check out the follow-up blog post and recording at any time – or contact us and we’ll be happy to help!  If you aren’t sure where to start with your anti-corruption program, reach out and we’ll connect you with Resources Global consultants with experience to help guide you.

Participate in International Anti-Corruption Day with policyIQ and Resources Global Professionals training

The United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime are leading Against Corruption Today (ACT), a campaign to fight corruption across the globe.  They have declared tomorrow, December 9th, to be International Anti-Corruption Day.

Anti-Corruption has been a hot topic lately for most companies, but in our business blogs, webinars and articles, we’ve tended to focus on the regulations and corporate financial impacts of non-compliance.  The Against Corruption Today campaign focuses on the economic and social impact of corruption to regular citizens throughout the world.

Within their Call to Action Matrix, ACT recommends some familiar tactics for the private sector to improve the global economy and eliminate corrution worldwide

Strengthen democracy…
Foster economic stability by enforcing zero-tolerance practices towards corruption.A transparent and open business community is a cornerstone of any strong democracy.

Promote justice…
Enact policies covering gifts, supply chain, whistleblowers and other key corruption issues, educate employees about them.

Employees will work better if they feel confident that they are operating in a fair and just environment.

Bring prosperity…
Strictly enforce anti-corruption measures and use independent auditors to ensure compliance. Introduce “anti-corruption strategies” into the social dialogue (see Trade Unions).

In the private sector, corruption increases the cost of doing business through the added “tax” of bribes, the additional management cost of negotiating with corrupt officials, and the legal and financial penalties of breached agreements or getting caught.

Participate in International Anti-Corruption Day by learning more from policyIQ and Resources Global Professionals 

The policyIQ team recently hosted a webinar outlining tactics for using policyIQ to manage your Anti-Corruption Compliance ProgramCheck out the recording, or review the wrap-up blog post from that session to learn more.

And coincidentally, Resources Global Professionals will be hosting a webinar next Tuesday, December 13th (12 pm ET) titled International Compliance Enforcement: The Need for an Effective Best Practices Compliance Program.  Hosted by Thomas Robert Fox, Resources consultant and FCPA / Anti-Bribery legal expert, this session will explore the best practices for establishing an effective global compliance program. Register today to secure your spot in this fantastic upcoming webinar!