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FCPA Compliance Report

Tom Fox has practiced law in Houston for 30 years and now brings you the FCPA Compliance and Ethics Report. Learn the latest in anti-corruption and anti-bribery compliance and international transaction issues, as well as business solutions to compliance problems.
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Sep 15, 2017

Jay and I return for a wide-ranging discussion on some of the week’s top compliance and ethics related stories, including: 

  1. Equifax continues to be in the news. Ben DiPietro reports from the compliance perspective in two articles from the WSJ Risk & Compliance Journal, see here and here.
  2. Julie DiMauro interviews Philip Urofsky on the US commitment to enforcing the FCPA. See her article in the FCPA Blog.
  3. A new scorecard is out on the amounts of money paid as bribes by the Brazilian construction company, Odebrecht. See article by Dick Cassin the FCPA Blog.
  4. On the intersection of Uber and Hell. See article by Tom Fox in Compliance Week (sub req’d).
  5. Sushi and money-laundering. The increasing intersection of AML and anti-corruption compliance. Sam Rubenfeld reports in the WSJ Risk & Compliance Journal.
  6. Matt Kelly joins us for an emergency rant and to announce the birth of the latest addition to the Kelly Clan.
  7. Want to be a Kleptocrat? The Mintz Group has developed an app “Kleptocrat” available in the Apple app store. Sam Rubenfeld reports in the WSJ Risk & Compliance Journal.
  8. Cleveland Indians set the AL mark for consecutive wins, now go for the MLB record.
  9. Is Thursday night football dead? It might be after the Texans deliver one of the ugliest wins ever on the Thursday night national stage.
  10. This month’s podcast series on One Month to a More Effective Compliance Program is in full production. In September, I am reviewing innovations for your compliance program. This week’s topics include embracing in your agile compliance program, design thinking in compliance, how Kaizen can improve your compliance program, disruption in compliance and superforecasting to better risk management. Oversight Systems is this month’s sponsor. It is available on the FCPA Compliance Report, iTunes, Libsyn, YouTube and JDSupra.
  11. The Jay Rosen weekend report preview-story telling in compliance.
Sep 8, 2017

One of the most constant things that I have observed in my 10+ years of practice in the compliance space is its constant evolution. Compliance techniques and practices, which were considered cutting edge when I began, have moved to standard fare and are now largely minimum practices. The Department of Justice (DOJ) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have mirrored this evolution in not only how they view compliance programs but also in their own enforcement regimes and protocols. Today I want to consider agile innovations methods for your compliance program. 

According to a Harvard Business Review (HBR) article “Embracing Agile, by Darrell K. Rigby, Jeff Sutherland and Hirotaka Takeuchi, agile methodologies “involve new values, principles, practices and benefits and are a radical alternative to command-and control-style management.” It is accomplished by taking employees “out of their functional silos and putting them in customer-focused multidisciplinary teams”. As the customers of the compliance function are the company’s employees, I think the transition can be made. 

One of the most basic problems is that business executives basically understand only enough about agile to be dangerous but they do not understand the comprehensive approach that needs to be taken. This means that senior management will continue to the same management practices that in fact work to undermine the agile process. The authors suggest the solution is that executives learn the basics of the agile process and understand the conditions in which it does or does not work. They should begin with a small team and project and let the operation spread organically. 

Some of the right conditions for the success of an agile initiative in the compliance arena are as follows. You should have the right market environment for the project. This means you need to have your internal customers involved and allow feedback to change any proposed solution. You must be willing to innovate, particularly if there are complex compliance problems involved. You will need to break down the solutions into digestible junks, which may actually change the scope but through cross-functional employee collaboration, you can have appropriate creative breakthroughs. 

Digestible junks will allow you have incremental developments, which can be tested and then rolled out for use by your employee base. As your internal customers use the innovations, the work cycles can be broken down further so both testing and innovation can continue unabated. This allows a continual feedback loop so that late changes in the innovation can be managed and incorporated going forward. Finally, if there are interim mistakes, it can be a valuable source of lessons learned going forward. 

An example might be around compliance training, a topic oft-times commented upon as rote and something employees simply have to get through. Some commentators have characterized such training as a basic ‘tick the box’ exercise simply to get government credit. While such commentary fails to understand the benefits of communication through training, it does point up the issue of the stiltedness of compliance training.

An approach to this might be to put together an agile team to look at training so that compliance could create topical training, in a few days to respond to market or other conditions, separated out by the challenges met in various product lines or geographic areas. This innovation can include budgets as well, making your compliance function more cost effective through innovation. 

Another concept is to start small and let the word spread. This is antithetical to many large companies that “launch change programs as massive efforts” largely because the project sponsors feel that if they do not do so, the rest of the company will divine that the effort is not really supported by senior management and respond accordingly. However, the authors suggest “agile might spread to another function, with the original practitioners acting as coaches. Each success seems to create a group of passionate evangelists who can hardly wait to tell others in the organization how well agile works.” 

The C-Suite has a role as well by practicing agile at the top of the organization so not only could senior management provide new techniques through an agile exercise, they could learn how to support more fully the compliance function which might engage in an agile review. “Senior executives who come together as an agile team and learn to apply the discipline to these activities achieve far-reaching benefits. Their own productivity and morale improve. They speak the language of the teams they are empowering. They experience common challenges and learn how to overcome them. They recognize and stop behaviors that impede agile teams. They learn to simplify and focus work. Results improve, increasing confidence and engagement throughout the organization.”

There are three succinct benefits. First by having senior management involved in an agile exercise, it would allow them to “catch up with the troops” and to reprioritize their efforts going forward to be better aligned with the real-time nature of agile. Second, it allows a speedier corporate transition as it can allow the employees to know if management is in tune with what the employees care about going forward. Finally, it can present clear alignment of departments and functions on a common vision. I can think of no greater strength for the compliance function to rely upon. This can be used to expose senior managers to break out of their “silos in today’s overspecialized organizations-for general management roles.” 

The authors conclude by noting the need to destroy barriers to agile. They list five pointers. First “get everyone on the same page” which they believe is the key responsibility of management. Second is not to change structures but to change roles so that internal company disciplines “can learn to work together simultaneously, rather than separately and sequentially.” Next is to name only one boss for each decision as in the agile operating model it must be “crystal clear” who can make the final decision. Penultimately, your agile exercise should focus on teams not individuals because it is the team’s collective intelligence that brings the power to an agile exercise. Finally, lead with questions not orders. Here the authors cite to General George S. Patton, who “famously advised leaders never to tell people how to do things: “Tell them what to do, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.”” 

The agile exercise will probably not work in a compliance function under the thumb of the corporate legal department, as innovation is typically not in the remit of legal. However for a compliance function that desires to bring new and unexpected ways of doing compliance to your organization, going through an agile exercise might be just the thing to move compliance into the very DNA of your organization. 

Three Key Takeaways

  1. Agile compliance involves new practices and benefits and is a radical alternative to command-and control-style management.
  2. Agile compliance allows you to take small, digestible steps.
  3. Agile compliance works at the top. 

This month’s podcast series is sponsored by Oversight Systems, Inc. Oversight’s automated transaction monitoring solution, Insights on Demand for FCPA, operationalizes your compliance program. For more information, go to OversightSystems.com.

Aug 16, 2017

In this very topical episode Matt Kelly and I take a deep dive into the administration’s response to the events over the weekend in Charlottesville and what it means for business leaders, compliance practitioners and others going forward. With the resignation of Ken Fraizer, CEO of Merck and others from the administration’s voluntary business counsel, due to the administration’s embrace of the alt-right and white supremacy, many CEO’s are asking the question “Where’s the upside” to publicly embracing the administration. From the compliance perspective, we explore the question in the context of a corporation’s ethical values, it business mission and statement for its employees and customers. Finally, we consider the documented ‘Trump Risk’ and how it is negatively impacting US businesses across the globe.

For more see Matt’ Blog post, Trump Tests Corporate America’s Commitment to Values on RadicalCompliance.com

Aug 15, 2017

If you have not seen it, I would suggest you go to see what I believe is the summer’s top movie, Dunkirk. It is great cinema, good history and presents the view of soldier on the ground from the English perspective. It unfolds on land, sea and air; in decreasing time frames of one week, one day and one hour. I was lucky enough to see it in glorious 70MM wide screen so the resolution was outstanding. There are several leadership lessons which I believe can be learned from the British (and German) experiences at Dunkirk.

Aug 14, 2017

In this episode Mike Volkov and I discuss the two official pronouncements from the Sessions’ Justice Department regarding FCPA enforcement. They were both declinations used under the FCPA Pilot Program, which was announced in April 2016. The first declination involved Linde Gas North America LLC and Linde North America Inc. Linde Gas is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Linde Group, a German based entity which is listed on multiple stock exchanges in Germany, but not listed in the US.  The second declination involved CDM Smith Inc. a privately held company, headquartered in Boston MA. As neither company is a US publicly listed entity, neither is subject to jurisdiction of the SEC. Hence both declinations were granted with the notation of declinations with disgorgement. In Linde Gas, the disgorgement amount was $7.8 million and forfeit $3.4 million, for a total of $11.2 million and in the CDM Smith declination the disgorgement amount was $4.037 million. Both declinations were superior results obtained by the companies as both had clearly violated the FCPA, for multiple years in ongoing bribery and corruption schemes.

For more on these two enforcement actions see the following:

  1. Linde in the Republic of Georgia: A Declination and Lessons Learned by Tom Fox;
  2. A Second Superior Result - CDM Smith Obtains a Declination by Tom Fox; and
  3. Justice Department Resolves Two Cases Under FCPA Pilot Program by Mike Volkov.
Aug 9, 2017

In this episode, Matt Kelly and I take a deep dive into the weeds on a Memo issued by Secretary of Defense James Mattis last week. It deals specifically with ethical conduct within the DOD and US military. It is one of the most power statements we have seen on ethics, the commitment to ethics, ethics training and the modeling of ethical behavior. It is short, only 250 words or so. We unpack the entire Memo and then engage in political speculation as to why it was released and what that may portend. Matt wrote about it earlier this week on his sight, Radical Compliance. It is so significant, I will post about it later this week. Every CCO and compliance practitioner should read Matt’s piece and the Memo.

See Matt Kelly’s blog post Secretary Mattis’ Insights on Ethics

For a copy of the Mattis Memo, click here.

Aug 8, 2017

Next I consider at how data analytics can be used for continuous improvement where the primary sales force used by a company is third parties. A clear majority of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) violations and related enforcement actions have come from the use of third parties. While sham contracting (i.e. using a third party to conduit the payment of a bribe) has lessened in recent years, there are related data analysis that can be performed to ascertain whether a third party is likely performing legitimate services for your company.  There are several more analytics that can be run in combination to identify suspicious third parties and some of the simplest can be to look for duplicate or erroneous payments, all of which can lead to continuous improvement.

A key to moving from detection to prevention to continuous improvement is the frequency of review. It is common for organizations to periodically review a year or more of accounts payable invoices at one time for errors or overpayments. Changing this from a one-time annual or biennial event to something that is done daily or weekly dramatically improves the value of such controls. This more frequent, preventative analysis is integral to a foundation of third party management. While many company perform periodic look-back audits, ongoing monitoring also works to accomplish the same queries on a daily or weekly basis. This allows organizations to find duplicate payments or overpayments after the invoice has been approved but prior to its disbursement. So instead of detecting a payment error three or six months after it is made, you prevent the money from leaving the company altogether.

                        Duplicate invoices are a favorite mechanism of fraudsters. Consider the following scenario, Invoice No. ABC-13, was paid for $10,597.95. Thirty days later the same vendor re-submitted the same invoice due to non-payment, but it was recorded by the payor organization without the hyphen between ABC and 13, consequently it was not detected by the system of payable controls. The problem is the second invoice had slightly different writing on the face of it, but it was for the same services and hence was a duplicate invoice. On the company side, both invoices were scanned into the company’s imaging system and queued for payment. Data analysis can locate such overpayments and identify a second payment should not be made because it is a match of one that had been previously approved.

Another analysis, which a compliance practitioner could compare using vendor name and other identifying information, for example address, country, data from a watch list such as Politically Exposed Persons (PEP) or Specially Designated National (SDN), to names and other identifying information on your vendor file. An inquiry could also be used to test in other ways such as if a vendor has the same surname as a vendor on the specially designated national terrorist list, or a politically exposed person.

Now suppose they share the same name as an elected official down in Brazil. How do we make sure that our vendor or broker is a different John Doe than the John Doe that is a politically exposed person in that country? It is only upon closer inspection where you can determine that the middle names are different and the ages are different, one of has an address is Brasilia and the other is in Sao Paulo. Without further inspection including other demographic information about your vendors, consultants or third parties and the comparing them to watch list individuals, such red flags are present but not cleared. That is what data analytics is designed to do, is to help you go from tens of thousands of “maybes” to a very small number of potential issues which need to be researched individually.

One of the important functions of any best practices compliance program is to not only follow the money but try to spot where pots of money could be created to pay bribes. Through comparison of invoices for similar items among similar vendors, data analytics uncover overcharges and fraudulent billings. Continual transaction monitoring and data analysis can prove its value through more frequent review, as individuals tend to perform better when they know they are being monitored.

The techniques used in transaction monitoring for suspicious invoices can be easily translated into data analysis for anti-corruption. Software allows a very large aggregation of suspicious payments not only by day or by month, but also by vendor or even by employee who may have keyed the invoices into your system. As these suspicious invoices begin to cluster by market, business unit or person a pattern forms which can be the basis of additional inquiry. That is the value of analytics. Analytics allows a compliance practitioner to sort and resort, combine and aggregate, so that patterns can be investigated more fully.

This final concept, of finding patterns that can be discerned through the aggregation of huge amounts of transactions, is the next step for compliance functions. Yet data analysis does far more than simply allow you to follow the money. It can be a part of your third party ongoing monitoring as well by allowing you to partner the information on third parties who might come into your company where there was no proper compliance vetting. The opportunity for continuous improvement through a feedback loop is obvious and a clear step you should take going forward.  

Three Key Takeaways

  1. Always remember to follow the money to see where a pot of money could be created to fund a bribe.
  2. Transaction monitoring techniques around fraud monitoring translate to data analysis for compliance.
  3. Do not forget to check names against known PEP and SDN lists. 

For more information on how an independent monitor can help improve your company’s ethics and compliance program, visit this month’s sponsor Affiliated Monitors at www.affiliatedmonitors.com.

Aug 7, 2017

Third parties still present the highest risk around FCPA compliance. It is therefore critical that you use monitoring and auditing when it comes to continuous improvement for this high-risk area. Today I want to consider three aspects of a company’s audit program for its compliance function: the types and purpose of third-party audits, planning for third-party audits and interviewing third parties.

Aug 1, 2017

Welcome to the August edition of One Month to More Effective Continuous Improvement. As you know, each month in 2017 I am presenting a series of podcasts on one topic which will allow you to create a more effective compliance program. This month I will discuss what techniques to create continuous improvement in your compliance program. 

Under Hallmark Nine of Ten Hallmarks of an Effective Compliance Program as articulated in the 2012 FCPA Guidance, it stated, “Finally, a good compliance program should constantly evolve. A company’s business changes over time, as do the environments in which it operates, the nature of its customers, the laws that govern its actions, and the standards of its chapter 5 Guiding Principles of Enforcement industry. In addition, compliance programs that do not just exist on paper but are followed in practice will inevitably uncover compliance weaknesses and require enhancements. Consequently, DOJ and SEC evaluate whether companies regularly review and improve their compliance programs and not allow them to become stale.” This insight was carried forward in the Department of Justice’s 2017 Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs (Evaluation) lists three types of continuous improvement: (1) internal audit, (2) control testing, and (3) evolving updates; each was category further refined with multiple attendant questions. 

You should keep track of external and internal events which may cause change to business process, policies and procedures. Some examples are new laws applicable to your business organization and internal events which drive changes within a company, i.e. a company reorganization or major acquisition. This type of review appears to be similar to the DOJ advocacy of ongoing risk assessments. The FCPA Guidance specifies that “a good compliance program should constantly evolve. A company’s business changes over time, as do the environments in which it operates, the nature of its custom­ers, the laws that govern its actions, and the standards of its industry. In addition, effective compliance programs, meaning those that do not simply exist on paper, but are operationalized will inevitably uncover compliance weaknesses and require enhancements. Consequently, DOJ and SEC evaluate whether companies regularly review and improve their compliance programs and not allow them to become stale.” 

Continuous improvement requires that you not only audit but also monitor whether employees are staying with the compliance program. In addition to the language set out in the FCPA Guidance, two of the seven compliance elements in the US Sentencing Guidelines call for companies to monitor, audit, and respond quickly to allegations of misconduct. These three activities are key components enforcement officials look for when determining whether companies maintain adequate oversight of their compliance programs.

 

The 2012 FCPA Guidance goes on to make clear that each company should assess and manage its risks. It specifically notes that small and medium-size enterprises likely will have different risk profiles and therefore different attendant compliance programs than large multi-national corporations. Moreover, this is something that the DOJ and SEC consider when evaluating a company’s compliance program in any FCPA investigation. This is why a “Check-the-Box” approach is not only disfavored by the DOJ, but, at the end of the day, it is also ineffectual. It is because each compliance program should be tailored to the enterprise’s own specific needs, risks, and challenges. 

One tool that is extremely useful in the continuous improvement cycle, yet is often misused or misunderstood, is ongoing monitoring. This can come from the confusion about the differences between monitoring and auditing. Monitoring is a commitment to reviewing and detecting compliance variances in real time and then reacting quickly to remediate them. A primary goal of monitoring is to identify and address gaps in your program on a regular and consistent basis across a wide spectrum of data and information. 

Auditing is a more limited review that targets a specific business component, region, or market sector during a particular timeframe to uncover and/or evaluate certain risks, particularly as seen in financial records. However, you should not assume that because your company conducts audits that it is effectively monitoring. A robust program should include separate functions for auditing and monitoring. Although unique in protocol, however, the two functions are related and can operate in tandem. Monitoring activities can sometimes lead to audits. For instance, if you notice a trend of suspicious payments in recent monitoring reports from Indonesia, it may be time to conduct an audit of those operations to further investigate the issue. 

Your company should establish a regular monitoring system to spot issues and address them. Effective monitoring means applying a consistent set of protocols, checks, and controls tailored to your company’s risks to detect and remediate compliance problems on an ongoing basis. To address this, your compliance team should be checking in routinely with local finance departments in your foreign offices to ask if they have noticed recent accounting irregularities. Regional directors should be required to keep tabs on potential improper activity in the countries in which they manage. These ongoing efforts demonstrate that your company is serious about compliance.

What should you do with this information? I would suggest that you have a strategic plan in place ready to implement your findings of continuous improvement, by using the following: 

  • Review the Goals of the Strategic Plan. This requires that you arrange a time for the Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) and team to review the goals of the Strategic Plan, which the CCO should lead to determine how this goal in the Plan measures up to its implementation in your company.
  • Design an Execution Plan. The “Keep it Simple Sir” or KISS method is the best to move forward. This would suggest that for each compliance goal, there should be a simple and straight forward plan to ensure that the goal in question is being addressed.
  • Put Accountabilities in Place. In any plan of execution, there must be accountabilities attached to them. This requires the CCO or other senior compliance department representative to put these in place and then mandate a report requirement on how the task assigned is being achieved.
  • Schedule the Next Review of the Plan. There should be a regular review of the process. It allows any problems which may arise to be detected and corrected more quickly than if meetings are held at a less frequent basis. 

It is a function of the CCO to reinforce the vision and goals of the compliance function, where assessment and updating are critical to an ongoing best practices compliance program. If you follow this protocol, you will put a mechanism in place to demonstrate your company’s commitment to compliance by following through on intentions as set forth in your strategic plan. 

Continuous improvement through continuous monitoring or other techniques will help keep your compliance program abreast of any changes in your business model’s compliance risks and allow growth based upon new and updated best practices specified by regulators. A compliance program is in many ways a continuously evolving organism, just as your company is. You need to build in a way to keep pace with both market and regulatory changes to have a truly effective anti-corruption compliance program. The 2012 FCPA Guidance makes clear the “DOJ and SEC will give meaningful credit to thoughtful efforts to create a sustainable compliance program if a problem is later discovered. Similarly, undertaking proactive evaluations before a problem strikes can lower the applicable penalty range under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines. Although the nature and the frequency of proactive evaluations may vary depending on the size and complexity of an organization, the idea behind such efforts is the same: continuous improve­ment and sustainability.” 

Three Key Takeaways

  1. Your compliance program should be continually evolving.
  2. Monitoring and auditing are different, yet complimentary tools for continuous improvement.
  3. DOJ and SEC will give meaningful credit to thoughtful efforts to create a sustainable compliance program if a problem is later discovered. 

For more information on how an independent monitor can help improve your company’s ethics and compliance program, visit this month’s sponsor Affiliated Monitors at www.affiliatedmonitors.com.

Jul 31, 2017

In this episode, I visit with Virginia Suveiu who counsels on legal risk management, regulatory compliance and public policy, as well as commercial and international law matters.

She is a subject matter expert on risk and developed the Legal Risk Management Specialized Studies Certificate Program for UCI Extension, where she teaches for that program as well as the Contract Management Certificate Program. She has published articles on a variety of business law matters, most recently for the National Contract Management Association’s Contract Management Magazine May 2015 issue, as well as for the National Center for State Courts and the Aerospace and Defense Forum, among others. 

There are a wide variety of risks that every corporation and compliance practitioners faces. These include regulatory risks, legal risks, reputational risks, safety risks, environmental risks, and many other types of risks. We consider whether there is one process or approach to take to on the over-arching concept of risk management or if the approach needs to be fined tuned by organization? We discuss the Legal Risk Management Specialized Studies Certificate Program, including what are the program benefits and who should attend. We explore the approach in teaching risk management. We discuss some of her current initiatives on the study of and teaching of risk.

Jul 17, 2017

In this episode, I visit with Melanie Johnson, co-founder of Elite Online Publishing, which aids entrepreneurs, business leaders, and professional athletes to create, publish, and market their books, to build their business and brand. Melanie talks about her professional journey which led to this venture and how her career in broadcasting gave her a unique understanding for the world of online publishing. She discusses using your skills and passion to develop your own business. 

Jul 14, 2017

A gap analysis is a method of assessing the differences in performance between a business' internal controls to determine whether business requirements are being met and, if not, what steps should be taken to ensure they are met successfully. Moreover, it is a determination of the degree of conformance of your organization to the requirements of an internal controls standard. A gap analysis is mainly a document review or a “show me the evidence” type activity, evidence which usually will come in the form of a record or document. During a gap analysis, there is some auditing accomplished, through key stakeholders providing the evidence they may have –or not- for each of the requirements set forth in the relevant internal controls standard.

 

Gap analysis are very often conducted at the beginning of the journey of an organization seeking compliance to an internal controls standard or it can be used as the basis for internal controls enhancement. Interestingly this can lead to more or even less internal controls, as sometimes in the realm of internal controls, less is more. The primary reason why a gap analysis is conducted at the beginning of the development phase or after some development has occurred is because the organization wants to know where they stand regarding meeting the relevant internal controls standard and they want to know specifically what they need to do to close the gaps. Companies need to understand where their gaps in internal controls are located, how large those gaps might be and what they need to do to close those holes and get closer to fully meeting the requirements of the chosen specification or standard.

 

Gap analysis is a technique that can be used to assess if an enterprise can meet its needs using its present capabilities. The capabilities that may be examined for improvement include staff competencies, facilities, applications, technical infrastructure, processes and lines of business; all with an eye towards (1) improving the compliance environment and (2) operationalizing compliance into the functional business units. 

Miriam Boudreaux posed the following, “Imagine a situation where you have been asked to improve the performance or efficiency of a particular unit of an organization. You have no clue whatsoever as to what set of factors is the real cause of the degraded performance you have been asked to improve. Identifying the gap between what is expected and what you are delivering, that is, the difference between the current state and the future state, is referred to as “Gap Analysis”.” 

She goes on to state that a “gap analysis can be defined in a number of ways, which more or less point towards the same meaning: 

  1. It is the process through which a company compares its current or actual performance to its expected performance to determine whether it is meeting its objectives and using its resources effectively. 
  1. It is a technique that businesses use to determine what steps need to be taken in order to move from their current states to their desired future states. 

From both definitions, it is evident that gap analysis is a technique that can help a business reach its peak eventually. By defining and analyzing gaps, a project team can create an action plan to move the business forward and fill performance gaps.” 

After the completion of the gap analysis there should be a report which presents a clear summary or where the major gaps exist between the company’s documentation and the internal controls requirements. It also should show a detail recount of each requirement and the degree of compliance, with corresponding actions that need to be taken to close these gaps. Here lies a major difference between an Audit report for example and a gap analysis report: the gap analysis report has some inherent advice to it, which makes it suitable to be accomplished by consultants or experts in the chosen specification or standards. 

Another way to consider a gap analysis is the steps you should take. These include: 

  1. Accurately defining the future goals: If you are not clear about the organization’s goals, all your efforts will be in vain. The first and foremost thing to be done is to identify what exactly the goals of the business are and the changes needed to achieve these goals. If the goal is not clear, the improvement exercise will keep on deviating from its desired path. 
  1. Identifying the current scenario and associated issues: To reach the place you desire, you should first assess where you are located in your internal controls regime. For example, a failure to see the real reason behind the poor compliance performance of your business units may affect profit and growth on the long run. At this stage, the analyst may organize brainstorming sessions, employee interviews, document review sessions to gain insight into present challenges. Only after a comprehensive definition of present challenges can one get a clear picture of the situation. 
  1. Devising the action plan: Now that you know the present and future expectations, you can think of the how factor, which is in form of a plan. How will you implement the action plan to close the identified gaps? The solutions may include several steps like hiring more employees, procuring extra machines and equipment, offering perks and incentives to get the best out of employees and so on. 
  1. Report: Finally, you will want to report your findings with the appropriate data and analysis presented. To do this, you may wish to use our gap analysis report template. In your report, you will include things like the background of the company and analysis, problems that have occurred, and even reasons for undertaking the analysis. Then, you will present your findings, showing the strategic objectives, current standing, deficiencies, and whether the current situation is acceptable. If the situation is unacceptable, you will present a course of action for improvement. Finally, all your analysis will be backed up with the data gathered during the analysis.

Three Key Takeaways

  1. Be prepared to require evidence from key stakeholders.
  2. Use a multistage approach to a gap analysis.
  3. To get to where you want to be, you have to know where you are.

For more information on how to improve your internal controls management process, visit this month’s sponsor Workiva at workiva.com.

Jun 26, 2017

In this episode, I visit with James Gellert, CEO of RapidRatings, a company which uses a financial dialogue to determine third party supplier health and viability. Gellert explains what supply chain resilience is and how can examining financial health of your suppliers can lead to a more financially efficient supply chain. We then discuss the company’s third party risk management tools. We consider how a company might evaluate a potential purchaser, partner or someone buying a part of a business. Finally we have a lengthy discussion of how a corporate compliance function use the health of a third party as a tool to determine third party compliance risk? 

For more information on RapidRatings, check out their website by clicking here.

Jun 12, 2017

 

In the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs (Evaluation), under Prong 7 Confidential Reporting and Investigation asks the following: Properly Scoped Investigation by Qualified PersonnelHow has the company ensured that the investigations have been properly scoped, and were independent, objective, appropriately conducted, and properly documented? These questions were clearly presaged by the DOJ’s Yates Memo and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) Pilot Program. The pressure on every Chief Compliance Officer (CCO), and indeed company, to get an investigation done quickly, efficiently and most importantly done right is even greater now.   

Jonathan Marks, a partner at Marcum LLP and a well-known internal investigation expert, gave some of his thoughts around what goes into a well-run investigation. Marks began by cautioning that any CCO must be cognizant of the strictures laid out in the Evaluation. It all begins with who in-house is looking at the complaint and does the CCO, compliance practitioner or legal team have the skills and capabilities to handle the matter which has arisen? Obviously if there are esoteric accounting issues or significant internal control work-arounds and overrides, a CCO may not have those skills to really understand all the issues. Similarly, if the matter is a global FCPA or equivalent bribery and corruption matter, Marks related, these “come in different flavors, and because they come in different flavors you may not have the skills or capabilities to do an investigation that would take place in say Brazil or Russia or China or India.” 

All of this ties into how the government will view an investigation, particularly if the company does not have the skills and capabilities necessary to analyze the allegation, or if the allegation of fraud is serious enough where they believe that an independent investigation rather than an internal investigation really needs to be done.” Moreover, if allegations or the investigation are going to be subject to regulatory scrutiny, one of the benefits of having somebody come in from the outside is that there is independence, skepticism, the ability to work through things unlike you would with an internal investigation where an internal audit might be involved. Marks concluded by noted, “from an outsider’s perspective looking in, there is more credibility of having somebody come to conduct your investigation.” 

Marks believes the first thing that any investigator must do is understand the business environment and the extended business enterprise. He further stated, “what I mean is really understand the business you’re dealing with, the industry that it’s in, the potential risks, the pressures and motivations that might be at play here. Understanding that generally with most frauds there is some pressure to do something because of something else and there are some motivations.” Such an initial understanding can help you formulate a comprehension of the internal controls that might be in place or that were lacking that could either have not been designed properly or overridden.

 

The next step is to quickly and thoroughly analyze the initial underlying facts and circumstances when it comes to the issue or the issues at hand. For Marks, the number one issue is the credibility of the complaint, which is more than simply the credibility of the complainant. Marks said it was important to understand how the allegations of wrongdoing came to light and the seriousness of the issues involved. He went on to note that his initial inquiry would include such questions as, “What are people saying happened or what is an individual saying that happened? You know the background of the complaint, if known. How long have they been with the organization? Are they credible? Have they complained before? If in fact this was either a whistle blower or a tip.”           

At this early assessment, Marks believes you should also consider the possible legal and financial impact of the allegations. If you determine it is serious at this early juncture, you should always consider your internal crisis management team and if your organization does not have one, you should consider retaining such an expert. Marks explained, “Crisis management doesn’t necessarily mean that a crisis happened, it means that if in fact we are in crisis mode, how does that impact the company? So, thinking about those issues and then knowing what to do, if in fact you are in a crisis mode, I think is ultra-critical.” He went on to add, “I think crisis management is totally underplayed. I think that many organizations don’t have an appropriate crisis management plan. If something bad does happen, a lot of times I see organizations that are struggling to kind of put the pieces together.” 

Marks also noted that both communication and collaboration are critical even at this early stage. He advocated that the company ask a series of questions such as what issues are “on the table” and who is impacted by these issues within the company; is it the company auditors or some other corporate function? He also advocated considering third parties and contracted entities in this calculus by inquiring if there were key suppliers impacted by the investigation. On the one hand, “a key supplier that might get wind of this and might not want to do business with us anymore?” Yet, conversely, such a key supplier could be a sole source supplier so you may need think about alternative arrangements. You should begin to consider these issues early on and continue to think about them as you are going through and doing and investigation. 

Document preservation is always a critical issue and Marks believes this is one which government regulators will pay particular attention to both at this initial phase and throughout the investigation. You need to take steps to ensure all data is locked down. This means getting into the weeds on such issues as where are all your company’s servers located; what is your back-up situation; do you have hand-held devices secured and are the organization’s instant and text messaging tied down. If you do not take such steps you could well find yourself in a situation where either information is lost or there's a possibility or suspicion that information is lost. Unfortunately, that is the situation that leads to a prosecutor’s imagination going wild. Basically, you need to have the information locked down so that if the government wants to come in and perform an independent review or test your hypothesis, you can provide them with the required information. 

Three Key Takeaways

  1. Always remember your ultimate audience may be the government.
  2. You must understand both the business environment and extended business enterprise.
  3. Communication and collaboration in any investigation are critical so you should begin early and continue to do so throughout the investigation.

 

 

Jun 8, 2017

 

The dog days of summer are on the horizon and the Houston Astros lead the major leagues in winning percentage. Coincidence that the US pulls out of the Paris Climate Accords the same week the Astros are playing .700 baseball? The top four commentators in compliance return to talk about what is one their summer radar for consideration. This episode concludes with the panelists’ rants. 

  1. Matt Kelly opens with a discussion of the revisions to the COSO ERM Framework, which were based on comments by practitioners. Matt considers the integration of the COSO ERM Framework into functional business units moving to operationalize ERM in organizations and we consider how the ERM Framework differs yet is complimentary to the COSO Internal Controls Framework. 

For Matt Kelly’s posts on the COSO ERM Framework, see the following:

More Details on COSO ERM Framework

Update to COSO ERM Framework Update

ERM Framework: Govt. Calls for Unity

More Clues on Draft ERM Framework

Draft ERM Framework is Here: How to Get Started 

  1. Mike Volkov examines the FinCen enforcement action involving Thomas Haider, the former CCO at MoneyGram. Mike considers the implications for CCOs and whether the case even matters for CCOs. 

For Mike Volkov’s post see on the Haidar enforcement action, see the following: 

            MoneyGram CCO Pays Civil Penalty

  1. Jonathan Armstrong reviews the recently released information that both Wood Group/AMEC are under the SFO concerning its Unaoil investigation. He explores some of the following questions: What should companies be doing around Unaoil? What happens if you discover a merger candidate is under investigation or in the case of AMEC, self-disclose they are under investigation. What does it mean if the acquiring entity rather than the target is under investigation? Finally, Armstrong handicaps the upcoming UK election and what it might mean for compliance. 

For Cordery Compliance's Client Alert see the following: 

        Bribery Due Diligence

  1. Jay Rosen brings his Mr. Monitorship hat and former Mr. Translations eye to the question of operationalizing your compliance program. He considers how the compliance function can work with other corporate functions to embed compliance into the fabric of an organization, concluding with by doing so a compliance function could become a competitive advantage for a business. 

For Jay Rosen’s posts see the following: 

 Compliance as a Competitive Advantage

For Tom Fox’s posts on operationalization of compliance see the following: 

Operationalizing Compliance, starting with Pizza

Operationalizing Compliance by Overcoming Obstacles

Operationalizing Compliance through Human Resources

Operationalizing Compliance through the Controller’s Office

Operationalizing Compliance through Internal Audit

 

The members of the Everything Compliance panel include:

  • Jay Rosen– Jay is Vice President, Business Development Corporate Monitoring at Affiliated Monitors. Rosen can be reached at JRosen@affiliatedmonitors.com
  • Mike Volkov – One of the top FCPA commentators and practitioners around and the Chief Executive Officer of The Volkov Law Group, LLC. Volkov can be reached at mvolkov@volkovlawgroup.com.
  • Matt Kelly – Founder and CEO of Radical Compliance, is the former Editor of Compliance Week. Kelly can be reached at mkelly@radicalcompliance.com
  • Jonathan Armstrong – Rounding out the panel is our UK colleague, who is an experienced lawyer with Cordery in London. Armstrong can be reached at armstrong@corderycompliance.com
Jun 5, 2017

In this episode, I visit with Robyn Bew, the Director of Strategic Content Development for the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) and Henry Stoever, the Chief Marketing Officer for the NACD. They discuss what is the NACD, who are its members and why directors or those desiring to be directors should join. We review some of the highlights from the 2017 NACD Directors Compensation Reports, the types of trainings offered by the NACD and the NACD’s advocacy for the director profession. You can find out more about the NACD by checking out their website, NACDonline.org.

May 10, 2017

In this episode, Roy Snell and I discuss the following:

  • Measuring the effectiveness of your compliance program three ways;
  • Why Roy thinks the CO shouldn’t chair the compliance committee – but maybe the general counsel should;
  • Who I think should chair the compliance committee;
  • Why you should prove your point 5 different ways instead of just 1;
  • Brexit: Keep Calm and Do Compliance; and
  • How Compliance transcends politics.
Apr 20, 2017

When was the last time you considered the health of your company’s third party management program? A good way to test that well-being is to perform a check-up on your third party program. An article entitled “Third Party Essentials: A Reputation/Liability Checkup When Using Third Parties Globally”, provided a manner for the compliance practitioner to test an “organizations health status concerning your relationship to your third parties.” The article provided seven points that you can consider in a self-assessment:

  1. Do you have a list or database of all your third parties and their information? Does your company have a full list of all third parties including such basic information as name, location, type of services provided, contract files and dates, principals of the third party and primary contact, due diligence files and any other information you might need to manage the third party relationship going forward? When was the last time this list was checked or updated?
  2. Have you done a risk assessment of your third parties and prioritized them by level of risk? You need to check and double-check which third party services present the greatest risk to your company by asking some of the following questions: (a) Is the third party’s service critical to your business?; (b) Is the third party’s service performed with little company supervision or oversight?; (c) Does the third party have access to any company funds, resources or assets?; (d) Can the third party fund the company contractually?; and (e) Does the third party obtain any foreign governmental licenses, certifications or other approvals for your company? When was the last time you asked these questions of the Business Sponsor or Relationship Manager.
  3. Do you have a due diligence process for the selection of third parties, based on the risk assessment? You should use the information determined through the risk assessment to “tailor the level of diligence to the level of risk.” Assign a risk profile to categories, such as high, medium and low. The higher the risk, the more due diligence will be required to vet the third party. Do you receive updated due diligence reports on a quarterly, semi-annual or annual basis?
  4. Once the risk categories have been determined, create a written due diligence process. Obviously you need to have a written policy and defined procedures to implement your due diligence policy. However, when was the last time it was reviewed or updated? What happens if you the compliance professional is hit by a bus coming to work? Would a substitute know what to do or would there be a written reference for your replacement? You should consider the following: (a) who is responsible for implementation; (b) list of red flags and how such red flags are to be dealt with and cleared; (c) a procedure to pay for any due diligence performed; (d) reference checks on third parties; (e) procedures for in-person interviews for third parties in a high risk category; (f) conflicts of interest checks, and (g) process for documentation and storage of all of the above information.
  5. Once the third party has been selected based on the due diligence process, do you have a contract with the third party stating all the expectations? When was the last time you considered your compliance terms and conditions or reviewed all of your third party contracts to ascertain if they include compliance terms and conditions: (a) anti-corruption and anti-bribery certification; (b)requirement that the third party maintain accurate books and records and that your company has audit rights; (c) indemnity rights; (d) anti-corruption and anti-bribery training for the third party’s employees; (e) an anonymous reporting mechanism for ethics complaints; (f) require the third party to obtain pre-approval to subcontract out any of its work for your company; (g) require the third party to report any ownership change back to your company, and lastly (h) clear termination rights.
  6. Relationship Managers. Just as your company would never have an employee who is not supervised, your company should not have a third party which does not have company oversight. Do you rotate Relationship Managers? What training has the compliance function provided to them as the company’s point of contact for third parties?
  7. Red flags review. When was the last time you checked on your third parties for any new red flags which may have arisen after the initial due diligence was performed or completed? At what interval do you update or renew your due diligence? How about a change from the company side regarding sales, sales practices, products or services which might become high-risk?

Many companies understand the maxim “Know Your Customer (KYC)”, nevertheless, in today’s global economy this maxim may well need to be expanded to “Know Your Third Party”. The bottom is that that there is no out, no; when it comes to third party risk management and third party compliance efforts. A good place to start is with a third program party checkup.

Three Key Takeaways

  1. What is the health of your third party risk management program?
  2. When was the last time you reviewed and updated your third party database list?
  3. Expand your KYC thinking to Know Your Third Party.

This month’s podcast series is sponsored by Opus. Opus helps free your business from the complexity and uncertainty of managing the risks associated with your customers, vendors, and third parties. By combining the most innovative Third-Party Risk Management and Know Your Customer Compliance SaaS platforms with unparalleled data solutions, Opus turns information into action so your business can thrive. Opus solutions include Hiperos 3PM accelerator, the leading platform for third party risk management. To learn more, go to www.opus.com.

 

 

 

Apr 14, 2017

The building blocks of any Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) anti-corruption compliance program lay the foundations for a best practices compliance program. For instance in the lifecycle management of third parties, most compliance practitioners understand the need for a business justification, questionnaire, due diligence, evaluation and compliance terms and conditions in contracts. However, as many companies mature in their compliance programs, the issue of third party management becomes more important. It is also the one where the rubber meets the road of operationalizing compliance. 

In an issue of Supply Chain Management Review in an article by Mark Trowbridge, entitled “Put it in Writing: Sharpening Contracts Management to Reduce Risk and Boost Supply Chain Performance”, provided useful insights into the management of the third party relationship. While the focus of the article was having a strategic approach to contracts management, the author’s “five ways to start professionalizing your approach to outsourcing contracts” were an excellent manner to consider steps in the management of third party relationships. 

The key is to have a strategic approach to how you structure and manage your third party relationships. This may mean more closely partnering with your third parties to help manage the anti-corruption compliance risk. It would certainly lead towards enabling your company to “control risk while optimizing the performance” of your third parties. To achieve these goals, I have revised Trowbridge’s prescriptions from suppliers to third parties. 

Consolidate Third Parties but Retain Redundancy 

It is incumbent that consolidation in your third party relationships to a smaller number to “yield better cost leverage.” From the compliance perspective, it also should make the entire third party lifecycle easier to manage, particularly steps 1-4. However, a company must not “over-consolidate” by going down to a single source supplier. You should build a diversified supplier base, with a through “dual-sourcing”. From the compliance perspective, you may want to have a primary and secondary third party that you work with in a service line or geographic area to retain this redundancy.

 Keep Tabs on Subcontracted Work 

This is one area that requires an appropriate level of management. If your direct contracting party has the right or will need to subcontract some work out, you need to have visibility into this from the compliance perspective. You will need to require and monitor that your direct third party relationship has your approved compliance terms and conditions in their contracts with their subcontractors. You will also need to test that proposition. In other words, you must require, trust and then verify.

 When Disaster Strikes, Make Sure Your Company is Legally Protected

This is where your compliance terms and conditions will come into play. One of the things that I advocate is a full indemnity if your third party violates the FCPA and your company is dragged into an investigation because of the third party’s actions. Such an indemnity may not be worth too much but if you do not have one, there will be no chance to recoup any of your legal or investigative costs. Another important clause is that any FCPA violation is a material breach of contract. This means that you can legally, under the terms of the contract, terminate it immediately, with no requirement for notice and cure. Once again you may be somewhat constrained by local laws but if you do not have the clause, you will have to give written notice and an opportunity to cure. This notice and cure process may be too long to satisfy the Department of Justice (DOJ) or Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) during the pendency of a FCPA investigation. Finally, you need a clause that requires your third party to cooperate in any FCPA investigation. This means cooperation with you and your designated investigation team but it may also mean cooperation with US governmental authorities as well.

 

You also need the ability to move between third parties if the need arises. This is the redundancy issue raised above. You do not want to be stuck with no approved freight forwarders or other transporters in a certain geographic area. If a compliance related matter occurs, you may well need certain contractual rights to move your work and to require your prime third party to cooperate with the transition to your secondary third party.

 Keep Track of Your Third Parties’ Financial Stability 

This is one area that is not usually discussed in the compliance arena around third parties but it seems almost self-evident. You can certainly imagine the disruption that could occur if your prime third party supplier in a country or region went bankrupt; but in the compliance realm there is another untoward Red Flag that is raised in such circumstances. Those third parties under financial pressure may be more easily persuaded to engage in bribery and corruption than third parties that stand on a more solid financial footing. You can do this by a simple requirement that your third party provide annual audited financial statements. For a worldwide logistics company, this should be something easily accomplished. 

You should take advantage of automated financial tracking tools to keep track of material changes in a third parties’ financial stability. You should also use your in-house relationship manager to regularly visit key third party relationships so an on-the-ground assessment can be a part of an ongoing conversation between your company and your third parties. 

Formalize Incentives for Third Party Performance 

One of the key elements for any third party contract under the FCPA or UK Bribery Act is the compensation issue. If the commission rate is too high, it could create a very large pool of money that could be used to pay bribes. It is mandatory that your company link any commission or payment to the performance of the third party. If you have a long-term stable relationship with a third party, you can tie compensation into long-term performance, specifically including long-term compliance performance. This requires the third party to put skin into the compliance game so that they have a vested, financial interest in getting things done in compliance with the FCPA or other anti-corruption compliance regimes.

By linking contractual compensation to performance, there should be an increase in third party performance. This is especially valuable when agreed upon key performance indicator (KPI) metrics can be accurately tracked. This would seem to be low hanging fruit for the compliance practitioner. If you cannot come up with some type of metric from the compliance perspective, you can work with your business relationship team to develop such compliance KPIs. 

You should rank third parties based upon a variety of factors including performance, length of relationship, benchmarking metrics and KPIs. This is a way for the compliance practitioner to have an ongoing risk ranking for third parties that can work as a preventative and even proscription prong of a compliance program and allow the delivery of compliance resources to those third parties that might need or even warrant them. 

Three Key Takeaways

  1. Have a strategic approach to third party risk management.
  2. Rank third parties based upon a variety of factors including compliance and business performance, length of relationship, benchmarking metrics and KPIs.
  3. Keep track of the financial stability of your third parties. 

This month’s podcast series is sponsored by Opus. Opus helps free your business from the complexity and uncertainty of managing the risks associated with your customers, vendors, and third parties. By combining the most innovative Third-Party Risk Management and Know Your Customer Compliance SaaS platforms with unparalleled data solutions, Opus turns information into action so your business can thrive. Opus solutions include Hiperos 3PM accelerator, the leading platform for third party risk management. To learn more, go to www.opus.com.

Mar 20, 2017

The Justice Department Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs states the following around training:

  1. Training and Communications

Risk-Based Training – What training have employees in relevant control functions received? Has the company provided tailored training for high-risk and control employees that addressed the risks in the area where the misconduct occurred? What analysis has the company undertaken to determine who should be trained and on what subjects?

I thought about the requirement for tailored training and how this leads to operationalizing your compliance program. Consider the current best practices to tailor your compliance training. It is through a risk ranking system of employee job duties or positions which is usually done by someone from the corporate compliance function reviewing lists of employees and then matching up their job duties, focusing on those involved in international operations which have foreign government or state owned enterprise touchpoints. Most usually it targets employees involved in sales. 

However, this type of analysis does not fully tie the calculus of FCPA touchpoints to the full panoply of the prevent, detect and remediate mandates of an operationalized compliance program. There are innumerable employees in every corporation who could be employed in the detect prong and who are generally not being engaged as a part of compliance backstop.

Typically, high-risk employees have FCPA training annually. However numerous studies have shown that more focused, indeed tailored, training can be more effective. Imagine the scenario where a high-risk employee is traveling to west Africa, which they book through the corporate travel portal. Unless the employee notifies compliance of this travel it is highly unlikely the compliance department would know about such travel.

Now imagine a corporate algorithm which could connect the dots of a high-risk employee, traveling to a high-risk country on a high-risk assignment. The current practice, in tech speak, is single-tenant software hosting, i.e. one piece of software available at a time with no continuity between corporate functions. Now envision a more multi-tenanted, Software as a Service (SaaS), approach where a company’s information is available through a single application, rather than having the information diluted through multiple applications. If a company is not using multi-tenancy, it may be hosting or supporting thousands of single-tenant information systems and cannot aggregate information across the corporate base and extract knowledge from large data sets as every corporate discipline may be housed on a different server and possibly a different version of software. This allows large and, more importantly, disparate data to be constantly fed into a single system where compliance can move more quickly and efficiently. 

Now consider our high-risk employee, traveling to a high-risk country on a high-risk assignment. When they book the travel, compliance could read the information and then deliver a tailored compliance training reminder. There need not a be referral to the compliance department who might call and ask the employee where they are going and what the business purpose, who they are meeting, etc. Communications and training would be delivered to the employee’s computer via email or other delivery mechanism. It could be as simple as a reminder about the FCPA, the company’s Code of Conduct and anti-corruption compliance program around facilitation payments. Yet it could be as sophisticated as the RESIST training which provides specific procedures to resist solicitations requests or even extortion demands, by referencing a company anti-corruption polices; its policies on facilitation payments and even corporate policies for employees. You could even add a list of potential responses such as an immediate response to the bribe-solicitor and reference to internal company reporting for assistance.

Of course, there would be an audit trail for all of this, which helps to satisfy the Document, Document, and Document component of your compliance program. Never forget the Justice Department specifically mentioned compliance reminders as one of the seven reasons Morgan Stanley received a declination back in 2012. This means when the government comes knocking you will have evidence of tailored training delivered to employees. Finally, such training also operates as internal control which helps to meet the Accounting Provisions requirement of the FCPA.

Again, consider another manner of how tailored training might be used for the traveling high-risk employees, where predictive analytics which could be used in conjunction with prior expense reports of both the employee and the region. On the personnel level, tailored training could help to determine if there were any issues around large expense reimbursements or those which might show a pattern of running up to the level where preapproval is required. Tailored training could give a wide range of statistics which would allow the compliance practitioner to operationalize compliance by considering sales expenses to determine if any issues might arise. Finally, in a continuous feedback loop, a prescription solution could then be delivered to prevent an issue arising to the level of an internal Code of Conduct violation or even a FCPA violation further operationalizing compliance. 

Three Key Takeaways

  1. Training should all begin with risk ranking of employees.
  2. Tailored training focuses on the risk for each employee and their compliance needs.
  3. Using tailored training to operationalize compliance can provide continuous feedback. 

This month’s podcast series is sponsored by Oversight Systems, Inc. Oversight’s automated transaction monitoring solution, Insights On Demand for FCPA, operationalizes your compliance program. For more information, go to OversightSystems.com.

Mar 13, 2017

In this episode, I have back John Champion, one-half of the podcast duo going through every Star Trek TV episode and movie at missionlogpodcast.com. Today, I visit with John on his reflections on the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, what Star Trek was like both with and post Gene Roddenberry, our differences over the TNG episode Relics and John's upcoming conference appearance. Check out John and his partner Key Ray, each week at missionlogpodcast.com

Feb 21, 2017

What is the role of a Board of Directors in hiring senior executives, Chief Compliance Officers and even other Board members? I recently explored this issue with Candice Tal, founder and CEO of Infortal, a global security and risk management consulting company. Tal began by noting, that a bad senior executive hire can cost a company much more than simply dollars. She noted, the “financial costs in day-to-day operations easily can quadruple that of a regular employee, but it can also impact the company’s corporate governance and Board of Directors if that executive hire was found to be involved with unethical and illegal activities. Not even a signed contract can protect a company if an executive hire’s unethical actions come to the attention of the national media. Fiduciary risk and exposure for the board of directors cannot be overlooked.”

She pointed to the example of Yahoo! and its hire of Scott Thompson back in 2012. It turned out that Thompson had incorrect information on his online biography regarding his academic credentials. As Tal noted, “implications went beyond the activist shareholder accusations to reflect on the board of directors for not vetting his background more carefully. The company may have been exposed to claims of providing false information to the SEC and potential stockholder law suits. Thompson’s 120-day tenure at Yahoo! cost the company over $7 million and seriously tarnished the company’s reputation in the business community.” 

The key is that a company engage in an executive due diligence investigation rather than simply a routine or even executive-level background investigation. Tal explained that an executive background search, is “typically limited to a 5 component review of: criminal records, employment verification, degree or education verification, social security validation, address verification and sometimes credit history.” Such searches are “very limited searches.” 

Conversely, executive due diligence, “looks in-depth at all available public records sources: criminal history, civil litigation issues, financial and legal issues, relationships with other companies and board advisory positions, reputation, misrepresented education and overstated work history, behavioral history (for example litigiousness), and, in particular, undisclosed or adverse issues.” While it is generally “more costly than executive background checks and takes more time, the information gathered is extremely valuable and can save a company substantially more. A high quality due diligence review can find important information which would not be returned in a routine executive background check.”

Infortal has found that up to 20% of executive search candidates fail a deep level due diligence investigation. Now consider how many senior executive slots your company has and add to that seats on the Board of Directors and you can quickly see the risk of failure to consider an executive due diligence search when promoting or hiring. Moreover, you need an executive level due diligence in other business situations as well, including the senior management of new business acquisitions brought into your organization through a merger or other acquisition, selecting new Board members, screening corporate Boards of Directors and of course, for third party business partners and other agents in the sales and supply chain channels.

Three Key Takeaways

  1. The costs of a bad executive hire can far exceed the dollar loss.
  2. Do not forget the differences between an executive background check and executive level due diligence.
  3. 20% of all senior executives fail an executive level due diligence check.
Feb 7, 2017

The Office of Inspector General (OIG), Department of Health and Human Resources, issued a paper entitled “Practical Guidance for Health Care Governing Boards on Compliance Oversight” (the OIG Guidance). It provides an excellent road map for thinking about how to structure a Compliance Committee for your Board and a Board’s obligations.

 As an introduction, the OIG Guidance states that a Board must act in good faith around its obligations regarding compliance. This means that there must be both a corporation information and reporting system and that such reporting mechanisms provide appropriate information to a Board. It stated, “The existence of a corporate reporting system is a key compliance program element, which not only keeps the Board informed of the activities of the organization, but also enables an organization to evaluate and respond to issues of potentially illegal or otherwise inappropriate activity.” The OIG Guidance sets out four areas of Board oversight and review of a compliance function; “(1) roles of, and relationships between, the organization’s audit, compliance, and legal departments; (2) mechanism and process for issue-reporting within an organization; (3) approach to identifying regulatory risk; and (4) methods of encouraging enterprise-wide accountability for achievement of compliance goals and objectives.”

While noting that a corporate compliance function should promote the prevention, detection and remediation of compliance violations, the OIG Guidance goes on to state that an organization’s Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) “should neither be counsel for the provider, nor be subordinate in function or position to counsel or the legal department, in any manner.” Rather the Board must ensure the CCO and compliance function have resources to fulfill their assigned role within an organization and access to the Board. The Board should evaluate and discuss how management works together to address risk, including the role of each in: 

  1. identifying compliance risks,
  2. investigating compliance risks and avoiding duplication of effort,
  3. identifying and implementing appropriate corrective actions and decision-making, and
  4. communicating between the various functions throughout the process.

 A key component of Board oversight is through the flow of information. The OIG Guidance says, “The Board should set and enforce expectations for receiving particular types of compliance-related information from various members of management. The Board should receive regular reports regarding the organization’s risk mitigation and compliance efforts—separately and independently”. These reports can come to the Board via a variety of reporting mechanisms; regular Board meetings, special Executive Sessions where the Board meets with the CCO or compliance leadership outside of the presence of senior management and ad hoc communications from the CCO. All of these help create a “continuous expectation of open dialogue” which is paramount for proper Board oversight. Of course, if a serious compliance issue arises, it needs to be communicated directly, and in a timely manner, to the Board.

But in addition to setting the expectations for the flows of information, a Board must also set expectations for holding senior management accountable for areas such as compliance. This can be through the assessment of “individual, department, or facility-level performance or consistency in executing the compliance program” and using this information to payout or withhold discretionary based bonuses “based upon compliance and quality outcomes.” The OIG Guidance also notes, “Some companies have made participation in annual incentive programs contingent on satisfactorily meeting annual compliance goals. Others have instituted employee and executive compensation claw-back/recoupment provisions if compliance metrics are not met.” However the key component is that “Through a system of defined compliance goals and objectives against which performance may be measured and incentivized, organizations can effectively communicate the message that everyone is ultimately responsible for compliance.”

A Board also needs to have regular reports on the risks that any organization may face. This means keeping abreast of “relevant and emerging regulatory risks, the role and functioning of an organization’s compliance program in the face of those risks and the flow and elevation of reporting of potential issues and problems to senior management.” The OIG Guidance speaks to technological solutions when it says, “Some Boards use tools such as dashboards—containing key financial, operational and compliance indicators to assess risk, performance against budgets, strategic plans, policies and procedures, or other goals and objectives—in order to strike a balance between too much and too little information. For instance, Board quality committees can work with management to create the content of the dashboards with a goal of identifying and responding to risks and improving quality of care.”

Moreover, a Board should also mandate that the company’s compliance function have the proper tools in place to facilitate compliance reporting internally. It states, “Boards should also consider establishing a risk-based reporting system, in which those responsible for the compliance function provide reports to the Board when certain risk-based criteria are met. The Board should be assured that there are mechanisms in place to ensure timely reporting of suspected violations and to evaluate and implement remedial measures. These tools may also be used to track and identify trends in organizational performance against corrective action plans developed in response to compliance concerns.”

Ultimately a Board should drive home of the message of compliance as “a way of life” so that it permeates into the DNA of a health care organization. For if a Board can help drive compliance into the fabric of an organization, it will have done more than simply fulfill its legal obligations starting in the Caremark decision and going forward. The Board will have helped to make the entire organization more compliance-centric and when a Board can help to facilitate such a change in attitudes, it will have moved the organization several steps down the road of doing business in compliance with relevant laws and issues.  

The OIG Guidance is an excellent review for not only compliance professionals and others in the health care industry but a good primer for Boards around their own duties under a best practices compliance program. The US Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Ten Hallmarks of an Effective Compliance Program, the “OIG voluntary compliance program guidance documents, and OIG Corporate Integrity Agreements (CIAs) can be used as baseline assessment tools for Boards and management in determining what specific functions may be necessary to meet the requirements of an effective compliance program. The Guidelines “offer incentives to organizations to reduce and ultimately eliminate criminal conduct by providing a structural foundation from which an organization may self-police its own conduct through an effective compliance and ethics program.” The compliance program guidance documents were developed by OIG to encourage the development and use of internal controls to monitor adherence to applicable statutes, regulations, and program requirements.” 

Three Key Takeaways

  1. Information flow up to the Board is critical.
  2. Compliance should be institutionalized in your company as a way of life.
  3. A Board needs to consider all risks.

For more information, check out my book Doing Compliance: Design, Create and Implement an Effective Anti-Corruption Compliance Program, which is available by clicking here.

Jan 19, 2017

Continuous improvement requires that you not only audit third parties but also monitor whether employees are staying with the compliance program. In addition to the language set out in the FCPA Guidance, two of the seven compliance elements in the US Sentencing Guidelines call for companies to monitor, audit, and respond quickly to allegations of misconduct. These three activities are key components enforcement officials look for when determining whether companies maintain adequate oversight of their compliance programs.

Your company should establish a regular monitoring system to spot issues and address them. Effective monitoring means applying a consistent set of protocols, checks, and controls tailored to your company’s risks to detect and remediate compliance problems on an ongoing basis. Many compliance practitioners understand you should be checking in routinely with local finance departments in your foreign offices to ask if they have noticed recent accounting irregularities. Regional directors should be required to keep tabs on potential improper activity in the countries in which they manage. These ongoing efforts demonstrate that your company is serious about compliance. 

Yet ongoing monitoring is not limited to the financial component of compliance. The concept is straightforward; at regular intervals you can sweep through your company email database for identified key words that can be flagged for further investigation, if required. The beauty of this approach is that does not require an extensive eDiscovery software tool or license purchase. It can be accomplished generally in two days or less. Also it is not limited to anti-corruption compliance but any of the risk factors identified for your company.

The objective of this approach is to ‘find the smoke’ which may be the evidence of a compliance breakdown (and related fire) by sweeping through emails is to uncover those that may contain real issues. From this starting point, you can assess and prioritize, by checking and verifying that there are issues worth investigating. From here you can identify the issues you want to investigate first. Further, and if warranted, you can invoke your investigation protocol, with all the requisite protections and securities.

In addition to the cost effectiveness of this approach, in that you are only paying for the services when you need them and as they are delivered, this approach satisfies the Tom Fox mantra of Document, Document, and Document because everything you have done can be verified and audited. Finally, as the regulators continue to evolve in their understandings and appreciation of a best practices compliance program, you will evolve your compliance program to a new level of detection that could well allow you to have a more robust prevent mode. When your compliance program has a strong prevent prong, it can be the most effective to stave off anything issues from becoming Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) violations.

Continuous improvement through continuous monitoring will help keep your compliance program abreast of any changes in your business model’s compliance risks and allow growth based upon new and updated best practices specified by regulators. A compliance program is a continuously evolving organism, just as your company is continually improving its business processes. The FCPA Guidance makes clear the “DOJ and SEC will give meaningful credit to thoughtful efforts to create a sustainable compliance program if a problem is later discovered. Similarly, undertaking proactive evaluations before a problem strikes can lower the applicable penalty range under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines. Although the nature and the frequency of proactive evaluations may vary depending on the size and complexity of an organization, the idea behind such efforts is the same: continuous improve­ment and sustainability.” 

Three Key Takeaways

  1. Ongoing employee monitoring is a standard tool of an effective compliance program.
  2. Focus your email sweeps on a high risk product, business unit or region.
  3. Use your findings. Review, analyze and act.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nov 8, 2016

In this podcast Matt Kelly and I take a deep dive into an area rarely discussed in the compliance space, namely budgeting. How should you think through the budgeting process; how does your company benchmark against its peer; how can you determine the proper amount of budget for your company's compliance department. We explore these and other questions on this podcast. For additional resources see Matt Kelly's blog post "Finding the Right Compliance Budget for You" on his site, radical compliance.com.

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