Compliance Messaging: Need a Reason? ‘Tis the Season!

Jessica Sanderson, Of Counsel at The Volkov Law Group, rejoins us for a posting on gift-giving, the holiday season and compliance messaging. Jessica can be reached at jsanderson@volkovlaw.com.

As the holidays quickly approach, consider sending a message from the Board or senior management reminding employees about your gift and hospitality policy.

DOJ Guidance highlights tailored communications as a “hallmark” of any well-designed compliance program, and questions commonly arise at this time of year about corporate rules on giving and receiving gifts and entertainment. So, there is no better time than the present to communicate your policy in easily understandable terms (e.g. if you have monetary limits, tell them; if you have necessary reporting or approval forms, attach one). Consider giving examples of appropriate gifts. And don’t just refer employees to your policy, provide a link or attach it. Notably, your message need not discourage employees from giving and receiving holiday gifts (unless, of course, your policy or the recipient’s policy prohibits it); instead it should help your employees understand exactly what they can and cannot do to take the stress out of what should otherwise be a positive experience.

As a reminder, the FCPA, UKBA and most anti-corruption laws only prohibit bribery, the laws generally do not prohibit the provisions of reasonably-priced meals, entertainment or the presentation of gifts as a legitimate form of appreciation, so long as they are given transparently and without corrupt intent. See, e.g. FCPA Guide at 15 (“Regardless of size, for a gift or other payment to violate the statute, the payor must have corrupt intent—that is, the intent to improperly influence the government official.”) 

FCPA Guidance has long provided that:

“A small gift or token of esteem or gratitude is often an appropriate way for business people to display respect for each other. Some hallmarks of appropriate gift-giving are when the gift is given openly and transparently, properly recorded in the giver’s books and records, provided only to reflect esteem or gratitude, and permitted under local law.” FCPA Guide at 15.

Finally, don’t be a grinch. Be sure to express your gratitude to employees for their contribution to your company’s ethical business culture.

If you would like help drafting an appropriate message, the Volkov Law Group is happy to help.  Happy Holidays!

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