FCPAméricas Blog

No “Tone From the Top”? What’s Compliance to Do?

Author: Matteson Ellis

The job of a general counsel or anti-corruption compliance officer in managing a company’s compliance efforts is hard enough. It gets even harder when he or she lacks the “tone from the top” support from senior management. In these situations, what is an officer to do? What lessons on ethical leadership can he or she bring to bear?

This question is not just academic. Recent news reports reveal how Koch Industries Inc. hired a compliance officer and ethics manager in 2008 and soon thereafter sent her to investigate the management of a subsidiary in southern France. After her investigation uncovered bribes, management then removed her from the inquiry. They fired her less than a year after that, claiming that she was incompetent, even though her findings were substantiated by a second round of investigations.

Though Koch Industries is an extreme example, lack of top-down commitment is more common than one might think. According to a recent survey by Corporate Board Member / FTI, only 36% of gen... Read more

What FCPA Enforcement Is Thinking in 2011

Author: Matteson Ellis

The annual National Conference on the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) in Washington, DC, hosted by American Conference Institute, is always a unique opportunity to hear from FCPA enforcement officials about what they are currently thinking. This year’s meeting did not disappoint. Held last week, it included noteworthy statements, some of which are provided below, by numerous officials. These statements were qualified in that each represented the official’s own views and not the views of his or her respective agency.

1. Neither the SEC nor the DOJ is focused on one-off, low-level conduct. Charles Cain, an Assistant Director of the FCPA Unit of the Division of Enforcement of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), explained that SEC enforcement is not focused on one-off, low-level conduct. He pointed to the fact that the cases brought over the last year all dealt with improper activity that was repeated, long-term, and systemic. He said that most SEC actions have included significant activity by high-level executives. Mr. Cain stressed that officials are not looking to charge isolated conduct in an otherwise compliant corporate culture. He said that the SEC is not trying to play “gotcha.” Charles Duross, ... Read more

Boom Times in Brazil, Part 2 (Managing corruption risk in a high-opportunity / high-risk environment)

Author: Matteson Ellis

This blog post is the second of a four-part series. Part 1 outlines corruption issues to look out for when operating in Brazil’s high-opportunity / high-risk environment. Part 2 (below) gives guidance to companies that are expanding operations into Brazil on ways to manage the country’s unique risk. Part 3 gives guidance (in Portuguese) to Brazilian companies expanding internationally on the basic prohibitions and jurisdictional elements of the FCPA. Part 4 discusses developments in Brazil that may signal a sea change in corruption reform.

Brazil presents unique corruption risks to companies making investments there, some of which are discussed in Part I... Read more


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