Category: Uncategorized

Corporate Culture – The Foundation of Compliance

The bedrock of a compliance program is corporate culture.  Let’s all agree to throw away the following often-repeated phrases: ”tone-at-the-top” and “buzz at the bottom.”  I would argue that we replace those trite and meaningless phrases with the all-important one – “culture of ethics.” There is no rational reason to continue segregating culture into distinct levels of the company — top or bottom.   A more...

“Sympathy” for the Board

Corporate boards have been under siege.  If you ask a Board member about the changes in corporate governance, risk and accountability, they roll their eyes and lament that the job of a board member has become more complicated and difficult. Let’s try and look at the experience from their perspective.  Board members usually enjoy focusing on a company’s financial performance and some of the more...

There Is No Bark to the Barko Case

I always enjoy listening to the legal “doomsayers” who love to propound hysterical claims in an effort to gain attention.   It reminds me of little children screaming for attention.  Unfortunately, in the case of lawyers, they tend to wear suits, earn lucrative salaries and are respected in their professional community. The latest fad in this space is a federal judge’s ruling in the Barko v....

AML/BSA Compliance Program Best Practices

I am always wary of definitive “best practices” lists.  By definition, “best practices” vary depending on the size and nature of an organization in any compliance context. This variability is applicable to the financial industry.  AML/BSA compliance can have a dramatic impact on one business but little impact on another business with a different profile. With all those caveats, there are some principles to examine...

AML Compliance: The Four Pillars

With all the attention to Anti-Money Laundering and Bank Secrecy Act enforcement, I thought it would be a good time to review some basic AML ethics and compliance principles. Banks and most financial institutions are very familiar with surrounding regulation and risks.  It is difficult to explain how institutions as large as HSBC, BNP Paribas and others can run into serious enforcement problems.  It is...

Cisco and Russia — Perils of Corruption in Russia

Jon Umarov, an Associate at The Volkov Law Group, has written today’s blog entry. Jon is from Uzbekistan and is very familiar with business practices in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States.  His bio is available here. Jon can be reached at jumarov@volkovlaw.com.     Cisco’s 2009 audits concerning its operations in Russia revealed that its interactions with the state-owned company, Svyazinvest and local...

Essential Requirements For An “Effective” Ethics and Compliance Program

A client recently reminder me – “Mike, it is not just an ethics and compliance program, it is an “effective ethics and compliance program.”  I always learn from my clients and this was an important reminder for me – focus on “effective” not just an ethics and compliance program. All of this came together in a recent LRN report on compliance effectiveness.  The report, which...

On the Chopping Block: Banks and Financial Institutions

The Department of Justice has had enough.  Banks and other financial institutions are not just on the radar screen – they are on the chopping block.  One-by-one watch out – banks and other financial institutions are coming under prosecutorial scrutiny. DOJ is flexing its muscle and doing so openly and notoriously.  Like I always say – the government tells you what they are going to...

Nigeria: The Corruption Poster Child

Lauren Connell, Managing Associate at The Volkov Law Group, joins us again with a posting on Nigeria.  Lauren’s bio is available here.  She can reached at lconnell@volkovlaw.com.  Life can provide important perspectives on controversial issues.  I know it is a broad statement but life’s lessons can be learned from a variety of experiences. Many businesses and legal commentators have challenged the importance of the global...

Esquenazi: DOJ Wins Appeal on “Instrumentality”

The 11th Circuit US Court of Appeals handed the Department of Justice a clear victory in the Esquenazi appeal.  Esquenazi was sentenced to 15 years in jail for FCPA violations – the longest criminal sentenced imposed in a criminal FCPA case. Most importantly, and as predicted, the Eleventh Circuit upheld the Department of Justice’s interpretation of the term “instrumentality” in the definition of a foreign...