Category: General

Beneficial Ownership and AML, Sanctions and Anti-Corruption Compliance

Sometimes compliance realities outpace enforcement and regulatory requirements. When it comes to FinCEN’s proposal to implement a beneficial ownership rule for financial institutions (see Here), global financial institutions do not need to worry about the outcome of the FinCEN regulations. Global financial institutions already have to know their (your) customer because of compliance obligations with sanctions and anti-corruption laws. In the anti-corruption context, a financial...

The Two Ps of Compliance: Promote and Protect

I often complain about compliance messaging. Compliance officers have to be careful to avoid becoming viewed as “nattering nabobs of negativism,” as former Vice President Spiro Agnew famously stated about the liberal media. Instead, compliance officers have to unite under the umbrella of positivism, and rely on a two-prong message — promote and protect. An effective ethics and compliance program promotes the positive aspects of...

Dancing on a Wire: Audit Committee Oversight of a Company’s Compliance Program

There are many interdependent pieces of a compliance program; if one function fails, the effectiveness of a compliance program can be seriously threatened. The audit/compliance committee has a critical role – it has responsibility for monitoring and supervision of a compliance program. Specifically the audit/compliance committee frequently initiates and establishes a company’s compliance tone. If the issue is important to the audit/compliance committee, compliance will...

Mike Volkov and Tom Fox Podcast on Internal Controls

I was honored to appear on Tom Fox’s regular podcast series.  Tom and I discussed the trend in internal controls enforcement, following the series of postings I wrote (here, here, here and here). Here is the link to our Podcast — Here.  

What to Do When The CEO Vanishes?

How do you establish tone at the top when the CEO really does not care? What if the Chief Compliance Officer cannot get the CEO’s attention? CCOs face real challenges when the CCO does not have his or her star actor or actress to promote the company’s ethical culture. If you can imagine filming The Godfather without Marlon Brando, then you can imagine what a...

The Empowerment of the CCO: Old Ways Die Hard

“Why not go out on a limb? That’s where the fruit is.”  — Will Rogers ” Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”  — John F. Kennedy The compliance profession continues to evolve and grow.  More lawyers and law students are seeking knowledge and training in the field of ethics...

The Importance of Conflicts of Interest Compliance

Character and personal force are the only investments that are worth anything. – Walt Whitman A company’s character includes avoiding the appearance of, or actual, conflicts of interest. Compliance professionals need to pay more attention to conflicts of interest. In some instances, companies have not even adopted conflict of interest compliance policies.  Some companies have a mere mention of the principle in their code of...

The Value of a Vigilant Internal Audit Program

I hate to write a negative column. It is contrary to my nature and perspective. It is easy to complain. It is far more difficult to come up with practical solutions. We all know colleagues who love to complain but do nothing about the problems they complain about. Eventually, a complainer loses value in an organization and they end up having little influence. Having said...

The Crystal Ball for Future FCPA Prosecutions for Internal Controls Violations (Part IV of IV)

The FCPA crystal ball is constantly shifting. Sometimes patterns emerge and trends become evident.   FCPA enforcement is fairly consistent with occasional blips.  What becomes trend setting often becomes the new norm.  Just look at the changes in Schedule C, and the compliance program requirements.  Look at the Schedule Cs from five years ago, and compare them to the Schedule Cs used now.  There have...

FCPA Books and Records and Internal Controls Enforcement – A Retrospective (Part III of IV)

Plan for the future because that’s where you are going to spend the rest of your life. – Mark Twain The SEC enforces its books and records and internal controls provisions, most of which involve non-FCPA violations. The Justice Department has responsibility for prosecuting criminal violations of the books and records and internal controls provisions. The interesting issue for both the SEC and the Justice...