FCPA Compliance and Ethics Blog

December 29, 2010

Practical Tips on In-Person FCPA Training

Filed under: FCPA,Training — tfoxlaw @ 3:24 pm
Tags: , ,

Ed. Note-we are pleased to present a post from our colleague Mary Shaddock Jones, Assistant General Counsel and Director Of Compliance at Global Industries, Ltd.

There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that anti-bribery laws are here to stay and will be enforced vigorously. The Department of Justice has recently published links to unofficial translations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in Arabic, Bengali, Chinese (Cantonese), Chinese (Mandarin), French, German, Japanese, Javanese, Korean, Malay, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Urdu. According to the DOJ website, the goal of providing these unofficial translations is to increase the general awareness and understanding of the FCPA by both U.S. companies engaging in international business and their foreign counterparts.

The question companies from all of the world face is who, what, where and how should they communicate the law to their employees and their agents. In January 2010, the FCPA Compliance and Ethics Blog posted two articles on Conducting Effective Compliance Training. (See here and here.) The articles clearly pointed out that there are a variety of ways in which communication of the FCPA can be carried out: (1) in-person training; (2) web-based training; and (3) a combination of the above utilizing a filmed version of the in-person training which can be sent out via computer.

I personally believe that in-person training is the most effective way to help an employee or agent really understand both the law and the Company’s stance on complying with the law. Sure, it is great to have a translation of the text of the FCPA in Arabic, Portuguese, Urdu et al. But how many people can look at a translated text of the FCPA and really understand the nuances involved? I would venture to say “not many”. In addition to reaching out to the employees and agents personally to teach them, the in-person training allows company’s the opportunity to learn from those closest to the issue what is actually occurring in the various offices overseas. The first thing I say in my FCPA training sessions is this “I don’t get paid enough money and there isn’t enough money in the world sufficient to make me embarrass myself, my family and friends and risk my freedom by intentionally violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act” and “I hope at the end of this session you feel exactly the same way.” You can tell an employee that the U.S. government has the right under the law to fine them $250,000 per violation under the anti-bribery provisions and/or $5 million per violation for the books and records and internal control provisions- but how many employees have that kind of money? Fines are less likely to make an impact, in my opinion, than the ability of the U.S. government to put a person in jail for 5-20 years per violation. That fact when explained face to face quickly gets their attention.

Training to be effective has to grab the listeners’ attention. Here are a couple of suggestions on what I have found to be effective in my worldwide training for Global Industries, Ltd.:

1. Start out with a few recent statistics- fines and penalties against companies and individuals. Help them understand what is at stake for them and for the company. There are plenty of recent examples that can be utilized.
2. Tell them straight off- that even though they are a citizen of another company and live outside the United States that they are, with extradition treaties, subject to being put into a U.S. jail if they are found guilty of violating the U.S. law.
3. Break down the elements of the FCPA and have the training in dual languages. If the majority of the listeners do not speak English, then have an interpreter with you- but have each slide in English and in the native language. By having it in their native language- you reinforce that this law applies to them.
4. Give them some real life examples. The plea agreements on file with the DOJ and SEC list plenty of examples of what “facts” led to the DOJ/SEC investigations.
5. Give the listeners copies or links to your company’s FCPA, gifts and entertainment, and charitable donation procedures and explain how all of these procedures work with one another.
6. Post copies of the training sessions and handouts on the company intranet so the listeners have the ability to return to the training if they have questions after the training sessions have ended.
7. Hang around after your training sessions so that people who want to ask questions, but don’t want to do so in front of other people have the opportunity to talk to you. You may be surprised at how much you learn by not being in a hurry to leave once you finish your training sessions.

I know it’s not possible or practical to reach every employee in every foreign location for in-person training, nor is it necessary. But I believe that every person you train in-person has a rippling effect in the organization. There is little substitute for looking someone in the eyes and telling them that they have the absolute right to refuse to violate the law if requested to do so by someone within their company. It is empowering to them and sends a powerful message on the company’s commitment to compliance.

Mary Shaddock Jones is Assistant General Counsel and Dir. Of Compliance at Global Industries, Ltd. Mary can be reached at maryj@globalind.com. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and not necessarily those of my employer.

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