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A Tale of Two Justice Departments: The Buck Stops at the Top

A Tale of Two Justice Departments: The Buck Stops at the Top

It is tempting to jump on the bandwagon and criticize the Justice Department  as a whole for its recent losses in the Edwards and Clemens cases.  No one was surprised by the results.  I know the prosecutors who worked on both cases and I respect them as true professionals.   The Justice Department is an unprecedented mess.  Alumni from the Justice Department hear from our...

GCs and CCOs:  A Match Made in Heaven or in Hell?

GCs and CCOs: A Match Made in Heaven or in Hell?

Chief Compliance Officers have a hard enough job without getting into turf battles.  Unfortunately, I hear all too often about the intra-company squabbling among the CCOs, General Counsels and Internal Auditors.  Rarely, have I seen situations where everyone cooperates.  Internal turf wars are not surprising nor are they nothing new.  But when it comes down to overall compliance and staying out of trouble, CCOs and...

The Lifeblood of Every AML Compliance Program: Suspicious Activity Reports

The Lifeblood of Every AML Compliance Program: Suspicious Activity Reports

As anti-money laundering laws and regulations expand to new entities, compliance officers need to focus on the design and implementation of suspicious activity reporting systems. SARs are at the center of every AML compliance program, and are used to identify and report potential terrorist financing, money laundering, and other financial crimes. The quality of the SAR content is critical to the adequacy and effectiveness of...

Congress and Corporate Governance Mandates: The Role of Chief Compliance Officers

Congress and Corporate Governance Mandates: The Role of Chief Compliance Officers

The responsibility for almost every act of corporate malfeasance can be laid at the doorstep of the corporate board.  Yet, directors complain about being overwhelmed by their responsibilities and their obligations to supervise and monitor.  This is especially true when it comes to compliance.  Congress has pushed corporate boards to do more and to take more responsibility.  Sarbanes-Oxley led to a radical transformation of board...

State-Owned Enterprises:  What’s All the Hullabaloo?

State-Owned Enterprises: What’s All the Hullabaloo?

Lawyers and the FCPA paparazzi can take something simple and make it complicated.  Take the issue of state-owned enterprises.  The government is going to win its appeal in the Haiti Telco case, just like they won at the district court level in three specific cases, including Haiti Telco.  Why?  The Justice Department has interpreted the FCPA statute correctly.  All you have to do is read...

Creating a Culture of Compliance

Creating a Culture of Compliance

Companies like to tout their “culture of compliance.”  Sometimes companies have it and sometimes they do not.  As a Chief Compliance Officer, make sure you check under the hood when you join a company which hires you promising a commitment to a “culture of compliance.”  These words are critical but they can be empty promises. There is a fundamental disconnect between a “culture of compliance”...

Corporate Culture of Compliance: Internal Communication and Reporting

Corporate Culture of Compliance: Internal Communication and Reporting

As a compliance advisor, we often use the word “essential” when describing elements of a compliance program.   One of those “essential” elements is fostering internal reporting and communication. The lifeblood for a Chief Compliance Officer is internal information and reports.  The sources of such information can be whistleblowers, employees who want to report an idea or a concern, a hotline or other anonymous report, or...

Act 1, Scene 1:  FCPA Hits Hollywood

Act 1, Scene 1: FCPA Hits Hollywood

Let’s add a new industry to the list of FCPA industry sweeps.  Is anyone surprised?   If I worked at DOJ or the SEC, I would simply take a look at those significant industries entering China and launch an industry-wide inquiry by issuing letters to major companies in that sector.  The predicate for an inquiry is satisfied by corruption conditions in China.  As I have said...

Antitrust Enforcement and Compliance Keeps Chugging Along

Antitrust Enforcement and Compliance Keeps Chugging Along

The Justice Department’s criminal enforcement of antitrust laws is a model of success.  DOJ’s criminal program took off in the 1990s with two major developments: (1) adoption of a corporate leniency program which increased self-reporting by cartel members; (2) enforcement against international cartels which had an impact on US consumers. Criminal fines in 2009 exceeded $1 billion, dipped to $555 million in 2010, and then...

Do Not Forget AML Compliance

Do Not Forget AML Compliance

The headlines are dominated by FCPA, Roger Clemens and John Edwards.  AML enforcement has come back to business attention.  There has been a lot of news around the subject of Anti-Money Laundering (AML) laws and the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) recently. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has been flexing some muscle lately in bringing cease and desist actions against banks.  Even the Vatican...