Tagged: internal controls

Asking the Right Questions: How to Measure Corporate Culture

As a federal prosecutor with lots of trial experience, I generally know what questions to ask a witness or a defendant.  In the compliance arena, there is much more leeway in how and what questions you ask. Many companies conduct employee surveys. These surveys are usually administered by human resources across the organization every year or two. I do not oppose these surveys but recommend...

Business Ethics as an Effective Control

Integrity has no need of rules. – Albert Camus Corporate decision-making ignores important principles and sometimes, common sense. With the increase in corporate compliance programs, corporate boards and senior executives need to take a moment to address one important issue – the importance of creating an ethical culture. For some reason, corporate boards and leaders like to focus on the tangible aspects of ethics and...

Dissecting a Bribery Violation: Two Important Questions to Answer

In the wreckage of a corporate FCPA enforcement action, a company has to answer two important questions. First, how did the conduct occur without senior executives and the Board learning or suspecting that such conduct was occurring or could occur? Second, how did the wrongdoers obtain access to the money needed to fund the bribery scheme? I know these two questions are fairly obvious, but...

Four Clear Messages from Bristol-Myers Squibb FCPA Enforcement Action

The SEC’s FCPA enforcement action for $14.6 million against Bristol-Myers Squibb (“BMS”) in China provides a textbook example of how things can go wrong in China. For the compliance practitioner (as well as CEO and senior executives) in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries, the BMS enforcement action should be read and digested as a quick checklist of important principles. The facts underlying the BMS...

The Compliance Dangers of Cheerleaders and Nay-Sayers

Compliance always boils down to people and interpersonal relationships. No man is an island, and no one can go it alone in compliance. One essential requirement for effective compliance is the ability to engage colleagues and your audience. Many senior executives are smart people –we all understand that. But too often senor executives embrace an interpersonal style of cheerleading. It allows them to appear to...

Compliance Fatigue — A Dangerous Concept

I have a lot of pet peeves, especially when it comes to lawyers and compliance professionals. Do not worry — this is a not a column about all of my pet peeves; I would never bore you with all those issues. My current pet peeve in the compliance field is the expression “compliance fatigue.” I am not a paranoid person but anyone who claims that...

DOJ’s Warning to High-Tech Companies: SAP Official Pleads Guilty To FCPA Violation

When DOJ acts, they like to make a splash. While the FCPA Paparazzi have been lamenting the “slow down” in FCPA enforcement actions and the increase in case closings, DOJ still makes its mark when it acts, and I expect more DOJ actions in the last quarter of 2015. DOJ’s latest salvo was the criminal plea of a former SAP official, a US citizen, for...

SEC Unveils First FCPA Enforcement Action Focused On Hiring Practices: BNY Mellon

The SEC is having a good year in the FCPA enforcement arena. As a former prosecutor, my eyes would sometimes glaze over when discussing civil enforcement actions. The SEC, however, has turned its FCPA enforcement program into a productive and important component of its overall mission. BNY Mellon agreed to pay $14.8 million for the hiring of three interns in order to curry favor with...

The Danger of Compliance Overkill

Government prosecutors spend time promoting enforcement programs and encouraging companies to design and implement effective ethics and compliance programs. The blogosphere is filled with articles, surveys, studies, warnings, and marketing efforts all directed to encourage companies to increase compliance programs and resources. Companies have responded by increasing attention and resources to ethics and compliance programs. In particular, regulated industries are spending vast sums to enhance,...

AML Risks and Compliance for Non-Financial Institutions

Consider yourself lucky if you work at a company that does not fall within the Title 31 of the US Code definition of a “financial institution.” I am being somewhat dramatic but it is important for every company to have an anti-money laundering compliance program. My suggestion is not designed to promote business or even “scare” companies into addressing this issue – it makes sense...