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Anti-Corruption Training: A Critical Component of a Compliance Program

The importance of  anti-corruption training is often understated in comparison to other elements of a successful anti-corruption compliance program.  Perhaps we should start with the term “training” and broaden the concept to what it really is — “communicating, listening and responding.” 

For compliance officers and staff, training programs is the one critical opportunity to educate, listen and learn from the audience.  It is a two-way communication process, and should be viewed that way within the company.

1.  Basic Content:  The basic message of the program should be to underscore the importance top management places on compliance; to educate attendees as to the basic legal requirements, the specific company policies, and the reasons for the policies; to establish contact persons for questions and answers.

2.  Audience:  The organization of audiences within the company is critical.  Depending on the risk assessment, it is important to design different training programs for different audiences.  Separate programs should be developed for top management and the Board; legal staff in headquarters; regional and or separate business division counsel; sales staff that deal with foreign government officials; and business/administrative staff that deal with foreign government regulatory agencies and offices; and auditing/accounting controls staff..

3.  Buy-In:  The compliance officer needs to establish him or herself as an “asset” not an “enforcer.”  No employee responds to threats or compliance personnel who act as naysayers.  To the contrary, the message needs to demonstrate that compliance is not in conflict with business development.  Good compliance practices can be used to create commercial benefits.  Problems can be solved, deals can be restructured, and compliance can be an asset in this area, provided that the attitude of cooperation is communicated.

4.  Asking Questions and Listening: Perhaps nothing is more important for a compliance officer to do during training but to ask specific questions of lawyers, staff and others on the “front line” to hear their concerns, to respond to their needs and try to incorporate these ideas into the ultimate policies or policy reviews.  For example, I always recommend that compliance staff ask sales staff what types of gifts, entertainment and meals they believe they need to provide to potential customers to advance their sales goals.  You may be surprised by the answer — what they want to do may not be a real concern.

5.  Record-Keeping:  It is important to keep comprehensive records relating to the training program itself.  Attendance certifications, on-line training participation and other records should be preserved and audited to ensure that all employees are participating in the required training program.  This is important to demonstrate a successful compliance program.

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