FCPA Compliance and Ethics Blog

December 30, 2012

The Lilly FCPA Enforcement Action Part I – Key Lessons Learned on Sportsmanlike Conduct

Patriots PictureAs you see from today’s picture I am enthusiastically wearing a New England Patriots (classic) shirt. You may ask yourself why am I wearing this shirt? The reason is because of a rather rash wager I made with Jay Rosen, Vice President of Merrill Brink, earlier this month on the Patriots/Texans football game. (I also made the same wager with Matt Kelly, Editor of Compliance Week, who says he will use the photo for marketing Compliance Week 2013, good luck with that!) I can’t quite seem to remember the final score but I do recall that it was what we in Texas might call a full ‘butt-whoopin’. Up until that game, the Patriots were 19-1 at home in the month of December over the past ten years, after beating the Texans, they became 20-1. The key lesson I learned from this experience is to evaluate your risk and then manage that risk accordingly.

Earlier this month, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced the settlement of the Eli Lilly and Company’s (Lilly) violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). The enforcement action details a number of bribery schemes that Lilly had engaged in for many years in multiple countries. Indeed Lilly used four different styles of bribery schemes in four separate countries; all of which violated the FCPA. In China, corrupt payments were falsely called reimbursement of expenses; in Brazil, money that was characterized as a discount for distributor was used to pay a bribe; in Poland, charitable donations were falsely labeled and used to induce a Polish government official to approve the purchase of Lilly products; and, finally, Lilly’s subsidiary in Russia, paid bribes to Offshore Agents who were domiciled outside Russia and who performed no services for which they were compensated.

I think the most noteworthy information found in this enforcement action is that it provides significant guidance to the compliance practitioner on not only the different types of bribery schemes used, but more importantly, by reading into the types of conduct the DOJ and SEC finds violates the FCPA, it is valuable as a lesson on how to structure tools to manage FCPA risks going forward. In this post I will detail the bribery schemes that Lilly engaged in and in Part II, I will discuss how the Lilly enforcement action should inform your FCPA compliance program.

I.                   China – Use of False Expense Reports to Cover Improper Gifts and Cash Payments

In China, Lilly employees used the classic system of submitting inflated expense reports and using the excess reimbursements to pay bribes. More ominously, not only did the sales representatives engage in this tactic but their supervisors did and also instructed subordinates to do so as well. The list of gifts that were provided to Chinese government officials was as wide ranging as it was creative. There were gifts consisting of specialty foods, wines and a jade bracelet. There were paid trips to bath houses, karaoke bars and spas. There was money paid to purchase “door prizes and publication fees to government employed physicians.” It was even noted that bribes were paid consisting of cigarettes. In the SEC complaint it stated that “Although the dollar amount of each gift was generally small, the improper payments were wide-spread across the [China] subsidiary.”

II.                Brazil – Use of Distributor Discounts to Fund Bribes

In Brazil, Lilly sold drugs to distributors who then resold the products to both public and private entities. It was the classic distributor model where Lilly sold the drugs to the distributors at a discount and then the distributors would resell the products “at a higher price and then took their discount as compensation.” There was a fairly standard discount given to the distributors which generally ranged “between 6.5% and 15%, with the majority of distributors in Brazil receiving a 10% discount.”

However in early 2007, at the request of a Lilly sales manager, the company awarded an unusually high discount of between 17% and 19% to a distributor for the sale of a Lilly drug to the government of one of the states of Brazil. The distributor used approximately 6% of this additional discount to create a fund to pay Brazilian government representatives to purchase the Lilly drugs from him. Further, the Lilly sales manager who requested this unusual discount was aware of the bribery scheme. Moreover, this increase in the discount was approved by the company with no further inquiry as to the reason for the request or to substantiate the basis for such an unusually high discount. If there were any internal controls they were not followed.

III.             Poland – Use of Charitable Donations to Obtain Sales of Drugs

In Poland we see our old friend the Chudow Castle Foundation (Foundation). You may remember this charity as it was the subject of a prior SEC enforcement action involving Schering-Plough Corporation. The thing that got both Lilly and Schering-Plough into trouble was that the Foundation was controlled by the Director of the Silesian Health Fund (Director) and with this position he was able to exercise “considerable influence over the pharmaceutical products local hospitals and other health care providers in the region purchased.”

Just how did this bribery scheme camouflaged as a charitable donation work? Initially it started while Lilly was in negotiations with the Director for the purchase of one of Lilly’s cancer drugs for public hospitals and other health care providers in the region. The Director actually made a request for a donation directly to representatives of Lilly. Thereafter, the Foundation itself made “subsequent requests” for donations.

In addition to this obvious red flag, Lilly did no due diligence on the Foundation and falsely described the nature of the payments not once but three separate times with three separate descriptions. Lilly turned some of the monies over not to the Foundation, but to the Director for use at his “discretion”. Interestingly, the donations were not only made at or near the time of a contract execution, with one donation being made two days after the Director authorized the purchase of the drugs from Lilly.  Internally Lilly even discussed the size of a donation, calling it a “rebate” and said “it will depend on the purchases of medicines.”

IV.              Russia – Use of Offshore Agents Who Performed No Services

As with Brazil, Lilly used a distributor sales model in Russia. However, there was a further twist which got Lilly into FCPA hot water. Lilly would enter into an agreement with a third party other than the distributor who was selected by the government official making decisions on the purchase of Lilly products. The other third parties were usually not domiciled in Russia, nor did they have bank accounts in Russia. In other words, they were Offshore Agents who were paid a flat fee or percentage of the total sales with no discernible work or services performed.

There was little to no due diligence performed on these Offshore Agents. In one instance, detailed in the SEC Complaint, Lilly ran a Dun and Bradstreet report on a third party agent, coupled with an internet search on a third party domiciled in Cyprus. There was no determination of the beneficial ownership of this Offshore Agent nor was there any determination of the business services which this Offshore Agent would provide, subsequently this . This Offshore Agent was paid approximately $3.8MM. An additional  Offshore Agent, again in Cyprus, which Lilly conducted little to no due diligence on, received a $5.2MM commission. Under another such agreement, yet another Cypriot Offshore Agent received a commission rate of 30% of the total sale.

What about the services that these Offshore Agents provided to Lilly? First and foremost, they all had their own special “Marketing Agreement” which was actually a template contract prepared by Lilly. The services allegedly provided by these Offshore Agents included “immediate customs clearance” or “immediate delivery” of the product. There were other equally broad and vague descriptions such as “promotion of the products” and “marketing research”. But not only was there little if no actual evidence that these Offshore Agents provided such services; Lilly, or its regular in-country distributors, actually performed these services.

Unlike their experience in Poland, officials from Lilly simply inquired directly from government officials with whom it was negotiating if it could “donate or otherwise support various initiatives that were affiliated with public or private institutions headed by the government officials or otherwise important to the government officials.” As noted in the SEC Complaint, Lilly had neither the internal controls in place nor performed any vetting to determine whether it “was offering something of value to a government official for the purpose of influencing or inducing him or her to assist Lilly-Vostok in obtaining or retaining business.”

In my next post I will discuss how the compliance practitioner can use the information and facts presented in the Lilly enforcement action as teaching points to evaluate and enhance a company’s compliance program.

Although I rarely agree with Peggy Noone, I always read her Saturday column in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and would like to end my blogging year with the closing paragraph, which I quote in full, from her article entitled “About Those 2012 Political Predictions”:

Lesson? For writers it’s always the same. Do your best, call it as you see it, keep the past in mind but keep your eyes open for the new things of the future. And say what you’re saying with as much verve as you can. Life shouldn’t be tepid and dull. It’s interesting—try to reflect the aliveness in your work. If you’re right about something, good. If you’re wrong, try to see what you misjudged and figure out why. And, always, “Wait ’til next year.”

A safe and Happy New Year to all.

This publication contains general information only and is based on the experiences and research of the author. The author is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, legal advice, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such legal advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified legal advisor. The author, his affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person or entity that relies on this publication. The Author gives his permission to link, post, distribute, or reference this article for any lawful purpose, provided attribution is made to the author. The author can be reached at tfox@tfoxlaw.com.

© Thomas R. Fox, 2012

December 21, 2012

Is It the End of the (Compliance) World?

It’s the end of the world as we know it.

 It’s the end of the world as we know it.

It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.

Today the Mayans predicted the world would end. I must say that I find the Mayans had a complete lack of courtesy, indeed if not foresight, as they did not identify the time the world would end and further did not specify if the time not indicated would be GMT or some other time zone. I would note for the record that for anyone who went to college in the 1980s, the R.E.M. version may be more prescient – “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” and I actually feel pretty good today, and thanks for asking. Finally, for all you conspiracy theorists out there, you might recall that, in the final episode of the X-Files, the Cigarette-Smoking Man predicted the end of the in 2012, although with even less courtesy than the Mayans, he did not give us any date. So if you are reading this blog it means that the world has not yet ended. If you are not reading it, I hope you enjoyed the rapture.

While the Mayans may have believed that the apocalypse was coming down as we neared the end of 2012, there may well be other events which have a more contemporary meaning for us. Exhibit A is the article in the Wednesday Wall Street Journal (WSJ), entitled “A Banker’s Costly Cab Ride”, in which reporter Aaron Lucchetti detailed the woes which have befallen the former Morgan Stanley employee William Bryan Jennings who got into a dispute with a cab driver over a fare during the holiday season in the pre-apocalypse year of 2011. The dispute got so heated that Jennings pulled a pen knife on the cab driver and cut him so that the driver required stitches. Police filed and later dropped charges against Jennings but Morgan Stanley fired him in October of this year, before there was a final determination that the charges would be dropped.

Jennings, a 22 year veteran of the company, was fired for breaching the Company’s Code of Conduct, which was reported to read in part “We promote a culture of integrity by taking personal responsibility for our actions, making the right decisions and being accountable.” The Code further specifies, “…If you violate the Code or other Morgan Stanley policy or procedure, you will be subject to the full range of disciplinary sanctions, including termination of your employment.” In addition to summarily firing him, the WSJ article reported “Morgan Stanley refused to give him a deferred-compensation payment in June and has frozen as much as $5 million or more…” Ouch!

In our continuing look at “Banks Behaving Badly” Exhibit B is the report by Bloomberg News regarding the HSBC $1.9 billion settlement with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) to resolve its anti-money laundering violations. In an article entitled “HSBC Judge Requests Reasons to Approve Drug-Money Accord” it is reported that the Judge, who will pass upon the settlement with HSBC, has asked the parties “to submit a brief giving reasons he should approve the bank’s $1.9 billion settlement of money-laundering charges over drug cartel-related transfers.” The Judge was quoted as saying, “My suggestion is you present to the court a document that demonstrates why I should accept the agreement” and “There’s been some publicized criticism of this. I think you should feel free to address it.” With all the criticism of the settlement and its no criminal penalties perhaps he wants to know the same thing as Halah Touryalai, who asked in an article entitled “Final Thought On HSBC Settlement: How Much Bad Behavior Will We Tolerate?”, “What’s a bank got to do to get into some real trouble around here?” She then added, “The scary part about the HSBC settlement is that U.S. authorities are essentially saying they couldn’t act on criminal charges because it would harm the larger financial system. That’s got many calling HSBC (and potentially others) too-big-to-jail.”

Exhibit C is the article today in the WSJ by Chris Matthews entitled, “Judge Won’t Approve IBM, SEC Bribery Settlement”. In it he reported that the District Judge, in whose court the SEC filed its agreed to settlement with IBM for FCPA violation, refused to accept the agreed upon settlement. Judge Leon, the trial judge in the Gun Sting cases, was reported to have said he, “couldn’t approve the settlement unless the SEC and IBM agreed to abide by additional settlement terms imposed by the court or explain why the terms are too burdensome.” IBM’s counsel argued that certain of the Judge’s conditions were too burdensome and these included, that “that IBM must report to the court and the SEC annually on its efforts to comply with the FCPA, report any future violations of the FCPA, and report any new criminal or civil investigations.” Matthews wrote that “IBM said it was willing to report future improper payments, and books and records violations related to such payments, but was unable to report broader accounting inaccuracies that weren’t tied to improper payments.” Judge Leon asked “So if they learn about other FCPA violations, they get a pass on that?” He also “pressed lawyers for the SEC and IBM about what data they had to prove reporting FCPA books and records violations would be burdensome and wondered aloud why “one of the largest companies in the world” couldn’t track that.” Burdensome indeed.

So if the world does not end today, I hope that you have (or will) enjoy the shortest day of the year. As this will be my final post before Christmas, a Merry Christmas to all. I submit for your holiday enjoyment what I consider to be the greatest Christmas and holiday song of all-time, Nat King Cole singing “The Christmas Song”.

This publication contains general information only and is based on the experiences and research of the author. The author is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, legal advice, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such legal advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified legal advisor. The author, his affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person or entity that relies on this publication. The Author gives his permission to link, post, distribute, or reference this article for any lawful purpose, provided attribution is made to the author. The author can be reached at tfox@tfoxlaw.com.

© Thomas R. Fox, 2012

December 20, 2012

The CCO: Co-Equal to the General Counsel in the Eyes of the DOJ

One of the items that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has increasingly focused on in its enforcement actions is the role of the Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) and whether this position has adequate staffing and resources to accomplish its mandated tasks in a minimum best practices compliance program under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). In the recent Pfizer Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA), it stated regarding the CCO position (called Chief Compliance and Risk Officer) that:

Pfizer will:

a. Maintain the appointment of a senior corporate executive with significant experience with compliance with the FCPA, including its anti-bribery, books and records, and internal controls provisions, as well as other applicable anticorruption laws and regulations (hereinafter “anti-corruption laws and regulations”) to serve as Chief Compliance and Risk Officer. The Chief Compliance and Risk Officer will have reporting obligations directly to the Chief Executive Officer and periodic reporting obligations to the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors.

Regarding the resources which should be dedicated to the compliance function, the Pfizer DPA stated:

Pfizer has committed and will continue the commitment of significantly enhanced resources for the international functions of the Compliance Division that have reporting obligations through the Chief Compliance…

The Pfizer DPA is one in a line of DPAs and Non-Prosecution Agreements (NPAs) where the DOJ and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have made clear that the CCO must be a senior level employee within the company. I think that this requirement is absolutely mandatory to not only set the proper tone within a company but also to give the CCO and the compliance function the clout needed to implement, enhance and run a minimum best practices FCPA compliance program.

Indeed, in the recently released FCPA Guidance, the DOJ and SEC made clear that in appraising a compliance program; [we] “consider whether a company has assigned respon­sibility for the oversight and implementation of a com­pany’s compliance program to one or more specific senior executives within an organization. Those individuals must have appropriate authority within the organization, adequate autonomy from management, and sufficient resources to ensure that the company’s compliance program is implemented effectively. Adequate autonomy gener­ally includes direct access to an organization’s governing authority, such as the board of directors and committees of the board of directors (e.g., the audit committee). Depending on the size and structure of an organization, it may be appropriate for day-to-day operational responsi­bility to be delegated to other specific individuals within a company. The DOJ and SEC recognize that the reporting structure will depend on the size and complexity of an organization. Moreover, the amount of resources devoted to compliance will depend on the company’s size, complex­ity, industry, geographical reach, and risks associated with the business. In assessing whether a company has reasonable internal controls, the DOJ and SEC typically consider whether the company devoted adequate staffing and resources to the compliance program given the size, structure, and risk pro­file of the business.” [Emphasis supplied]

I think that the DOJ and SEC are moving companies to not only have more robust compliance programs but the CCOs and their programs must be adequately situated within the organization and adequately funded. For CCOs I think that this means they should be at a level in the organization equal to the General Counsel (GC) and compensated at an amount equal to the GC. The reason is clear, the DOJ and SEC expect the compliance function to be a leadership function within the company’s structure and given all the respect due such a position. The days where the compliance function is viewed as something other than legal work are long gone and companies need to have their CCOs at least equivalent to their GCs. I also think that this always means the CCO must sit on a company’s Executive Leadership Team (ELT). Once again the reason is clear, Compliance must not only be shown to be Mission 1A (Safety being Mission 1) but the CCO can only manage the compliance risk if it has a seat at the executive leadership table.

These comments are consistent with the US Sentencing Guidelines which were revised in November 2010. In these revisions, there was a change in the reporting structure in corporations where the CCO reported to the GC rather than a committee on the Board of Directors. The change read “the individual…with operational responsibility for the compliance and ethics program…have direct reporting obligations to the governing authority or any appropriate subgroup… (e.g. an audit committee or the board of directors)”. If a company has the CCO reporting to the GC, who then reports to the Board, such structure most probably no longer qualifies as an effective compliance and ethics program under the amended Sentencing Guidelines. The better practice would now appear to be that the CCO should be a direct report to the Board or appropriate subcommittee of the Board such as compliance or audit.

Equally important are the resources dedicated to the compliance function. My colleague Stephen Martin, a former state and US prosecutor, gives this rather straight-forward example of a question that a prosecutor would ask when confronted by a company that provides limited internal funding to the compliance function. He would ask how much does your company spend on yellow post-it notes (or paper clips or pens)? If the answer is significantly more funding than is afforded to the compliance function, his response would be “Which area is more mission-critical to complying with the FCPA; your compliance function or yellow post-it notes?”

The DOJ is clearly signally the increased importance of the CCO. The position should be viewed as co-equal to the GC. Just as clearly, the DOJ has signaled that an appropriate level of resources should be devoted to the compliance function. By following these evolving best practices you can add to the credibility of your defenses if your company becomes involved in a FCPA investigation or enforcement action.

This publication contains general information only and is based on the experiences and research of the author. The author is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, legal advice, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such legal advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified legal advisor. The author, his affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person or entity that relies on this publication. The Author gives his permission to link, post, distribute, or reference this article for any lawful purpose, provided attribution is made to the author. The author can be reached at tfox@tfoxlaw.com.

© Thomas R. Fox, 2012

December 19, 2012

Race to the Bottom: Wal-Mart’s FCPA Investigation and the Houston Astros

So who do you think had the better day – the Houston Astros Monday or Wal-Mart Tuesday? Yesterday, the Astros announced the signing of Carlos Pena to be their Designated Hitter (DH) for the 2013 season. Pena’s 2012 average – a whopping ‘buck ‘97’; Yes sports fans the Astros have signed a DH who hit below the dreaded Mendoza Line for the past season. How is that for a strong opening move as the Astros move to the most talented Division in baseball? Anyone out there have the smallest inking that the Astros are ‘racing to the bottom’?

Nevertheless the Astros DH move probably pales with the PR debacle that Wal-Mart is facing today as the New York Times (NYT) once again, with superior reporting, had a story, entitled “The Bribery Aisle How Wal-Mart Used Payoffs To Get Its Way in Mexico”, above the fold on its front page on alleged bribery and corruption engaged in by Wal-Mart’s Mexico subsidiary. Reporters David Barstow and Alejandra Xanic von Bertrab did extensive research to find out not only the alleged amounts of bribes paid but also to whom, and the benefits that Wal-Mart allegedly received back in return.

Wal-Mart Bribery Box Score – (alleged) all scores courtesy of NYT

Store Type and Site

Number of Alleged Bribe Payments Made

Amount of Alleged Bribes USD

Sam’s Club in Mexico City

19

$341,000

Refrigeration Distribution Center north of Mexico City

9

$765,000

Wal-Mart in Teotihuάcan

4

$221,000

Teotihuάcan Store Bribery Box Score – (alleged) all scores courtesy of NYT

Purposed of Bribe

Person(s) Bribed

Amount USD

Obtain altered Zoning Map Director of Urban Planning

$52,000

Obtain waiver of approved traffic plan. In State Agency that regulates roads

$25,900

Town approval for store construction, where permits not in place. Mayor and Town Council

$114,000

Obtain waiver to build at cultural heritage site, where no investigation performed. In National Institute of Anthropology and History (NIAH)

(up to) $81,000

So reviewing the types of activity that fall under the Facilitation Payment exception to the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) we find the following:

… “shall not apply to any facilitating or expediting payment to a foreign official, political party, or party official the purpose of which is to expedite or to secure the performance of a routine governmental action . . .”

The recent Department of Justice (DOJ) Guidance on the FCPA included a list of actions which are ordinarily and commonly performed by a foreign official and would fall within the definition of a facilitation payment. Also remember that the facilitation payment only applies for a “non-discretionary governmental action”.

  • obtaining permits, licenses, or other official documents to qualify a person to do business in a foreign country;
  • processing governmental papers, such as visas and work orders;
  • providing police protection, mail pickup and delivery, or scheduling inspections associated with contract performance or inspections related to transit of goods across country;
  • providing phone service, power and water supply, loading and unloading cargo, or protecting perishable products or commodities from deterioration; or
  • actions of a similar nature.

Of course all proper facilitation payments must be recorded as facilitation payments. Further, as stated in the Guidance, “Whether a payment falls within the exception is not dependent on the size of the payment, though size can be telling, as a large payment is more suggestive of corrupt intent to influence a non-routine governmental action. But, like the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions more generally, the facilitating payments exception focuses on the purpose of the payment rather than its value.” Based upon the facts set forth in the NYT article, it does not appear that the payments made were ‘non-discretionary’ or were not made without corrupt intent.

Are there any examples, either in Opinion Releases, enforcement actions, DOJ pronouncements or anything else that the payments by Wal-Mart were legal under the FCPA? I would have to give a resounding NO to my own question. The FCPA Professor did cite to three Opinion Releases in his post yesterday, entitled “Wal-Mart Again On The Front Page Of The New York Times”. They dealt with charitable donations under the FCPA and one of the alleged payments made in the Teotihuάcan Store Bribery, the payment to the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) was alleged, in part, to be a charitable donation. However, in each one of the three Opinion Releases cited there were donations made with post-donation auditing of the use of the cash to ensure the money was used as specified and other protections to ensure compliance with the FCPA. The donations were also made with transparency and not, as reported by the NYT, “Sergio Raúl Arroyo, the director general of INAH, recalled in an interview that Ms. Miró had told him about Wal-Mart’s offer. He could not recall any other instance of a company offering a donation while it was seeking a permit. “That would have been totally irregular,” he said.”

So, as the FCPA Professor also noted in his piece, “from an FCPA perspective, the issues largely remain the same.” From the factual perspective, he may well correct. However, what may have changed is the conversation. The NYT piece shows just how invidious a culture of bribery and corruption can be and how such a culture can subvert local governments and even national cultural heritage protections.

Another interesting issue raised by the NYT article is the investigation of the underlying facts. As reported by the FCPA Blog, in a piece entitled “Wal-Mart’s latest FCPA disclosure (December 2012)”, in its Form 10-Q filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) by Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. on December 4, Wal-Mart state the following,
“The Company has incurred expenses of approximately $48 million and $99 million during the three and nine months ended October 31, 2012, respectively, related to these matters.” In other words Wal-Mart has spent a pretty penny since the original NYT article in April. Recognizing that not all of these monies were dedicated solely the Mexico investigation, I would still pose the following question, “How is it that two intrepid reporters from the NYT were able to piece together this story and Wal-Mart was not able to do so when confronted with allegations of bribery and corruption in its Mexican subsidiary?” Lastly is the effect that this story may have on the DOJ. Given the criticism that the DOJ sustained in the wake of the HSBC Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) for its money-laundering conduct, will the Department feel compelled to attempt to prosecute individuals in this case? How about the fine? What does the DOJ try and communicate when the world’s largest retailer is alleged to have engaged in such conduct? What about those licenses, if they were indeed obtained by bribery and corruption, should they still be valid?

So who will win this race to the bottom? I can say that it appears Wal-Mart is trying to get its house in order. It has hired a new Chief Compliance Officer (CCO), created new compliance positions around the globe and put on extensive FCPA compliance training. It may take other steps to help to remedy the predicament it now finds itself in. As for the Astros, I had always thought that DH stood for Designated Hitter

This publication contains general information only and is based on the experiences and research of the author. The author is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, legal advice, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such legal advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified legal advisor. The author, his affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person or entity that relies on this publication. The Author gives his permission to link, post, distribute, or reference this article for any lawful purpose, provided attribution is made to the author. The author can be reached at tfox@tfoxlaw.com.

© Thomas R. Fox, 2012

December 18, 2012

Banks Behaving Badly or Brother Can You Spare A Billion (or Two)?

Remember when a billion dollars was real money? Over the past couple of weeks there have been some mammoth fines paid by financial institutions for conduct, which would appear to fall under the category of “Banks Behaving Badly”. Last week HSBC agreed to pay a fine of $1.92 billion for its transgressions involving money laundering. UBS is in the final stages of negotiations to pay $1.5 billion to resolve allegations that it tried to rig interest rate benchmark (i.e. ‘Libor’) to boost trading profits. Finally, on December 10, coming in at a paltry $327 million are our old friends Standard Chartered, which admitted processing thousands of transactions for Iranian and Sudanese clients through its American subsidiaries; subsequently to avoid having Iranian transactions detected by the US Treasury Department computer filters, Standard Chartered deliberately removed names and other identifying information, according to the authorities. All in all, it’s not been a bad couple of weeks for the US Treasury, given the current stalemate over the ‘fiscal cliff’ and the need to reduce the US deficit.

For those of you keeping score at home, we present our updated Banks Behaving Badly Box Score of Settlements

Banks Behaving Badly – Box Score of AML Settlements

Bank Amount Date of Settlement
Lloyds TSB Bank $567MM December 2009
Credit Suisse $536MM December 2009
ING Bank $619MM June 2012
Royal Bank of Scotland $500MM May 2012
Barclays $298MM August 2012
Standard Chartered – NY state $340MM August 2012
Standard Chartered – Federal $327MM December 2012
HSBC $1.92 BN December 2012
Total $4.004BN

Banks Behaving Badly – Box Score of Libor Manipulation Settlements

Bank Amount Date of Settlement
Barclays $450MM June 2012
UBS $1.5BN (proposed) December 2012?
Total $1.95BN (proposed)

If you do not have a calculator handy, for the 2012 banking season alone, that is $4,004,000,000 all going to the US Treasury thanks to our friends at Banks Behaving Badly. If you want to sneak-a-peak at what it might look like if the UBS settlement comes through just add on an additional $1.5 bn so that is over $6 billion in fines, penalties and disgorged profits from one industry sector in one year. And people have the temerity to complain about the energy industry being corrupt.

So what is the cause of ‘Banks Behaving Badly’? Back in June, at the time of the Barclays Libor manipulation settlement, the Financial Times (FT) wrote on its Op-Ed page in the piece entitled “Shaming banks into better ways” that “few have shone such an unsparing light on the rotten heart of the financial system” and then went on to say “nothing less than a long-running confidence trick played on the public for personal and institutional advantage” and even pointed out the “rotten culture at Barclays”. The FT editorial clearly focused on ethics when it said “But beyond the questions about legality there is a bigger worry about the wayward behavior of the financial sector.” The FT editorial concluded by telling banks that if “banker-bashing is to stop, the banks themselves must change.” Typical British understatement at its finest wouldn’t you say?

The HSBC settlement was announced by Lanny A. Breuer, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. In the Department of Justice (DOJ) Press Release it was reported that HSBC received a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) which required, among other things, that it “committed to undertake enhanced AML and other compliance obligations and structural changes within its entire global operations to prevent a repeat of the conduct that led to this prosecution.  HSBC has replaced almost all of its senior management, “clawed back” deferred compensation bonuses given to its most senior AML and compliance officers, and has agreed to partially defer bonus compensation for its most senior executives – its group general managers and group managing directors – during the period of the five-year DPA.  In addition to these measures, HSBC has made significant changes in its management structure and AML compliance functions that increase the accountability of its most senior executives for AML compliance failures.” There will also be an independent outside monitor appointed to oversee the bank’s compliance efforts and report periodically to the DOJ.

Even with all the above and the fines, penalty and profit disgorgement, the DOJ has come under withering criticism for its failure to both let HSBC off so lightly, with a DPA, where “HSBC Bank USA failed to monitor over $670 billion in wire transfers and over $9.4 billion in purchases of physical U.S. dollars from HSBC Mexico” and no individuals were indicted. CNN reported that Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, sent a stinging letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, calling it “inexcusable” for the department [DOJ] not to prosecute criminal behavior by HSBC. Senator Grassley’s letter was quoted as saying, “What I have seen from the department is an inexplicable unwillingness to prosecute and convict those responsible for aiding and abetting drug lords and terrorists.” Further, “By allowing these individuals to walk away without any real punishment, the department is declaring that crime actually does pay,” Grassley asserted.

Halah Touryalai, in an article entitled “Final Thought On HSBC Settlement: How Much Bad Behavior Will We Tolerate?” in forbes.com, put it another way. Touryalai asked “What’s a bank got to do to get into some real trouble around here?” She went on to say, “So, let’s get this straight. A major global bank failed to catch activity that put our country’s security at risk and now it is sorry… The HSBC case brings to the forefront a big question for the U.S.: How much are we willing to tolerate from financial services companies? If we’re looking at the HSBC case then a lot, apparently.” Finally, Touryalai spoke for many when she said, “The scary part about the HSBC settlement is that U.S. authorities are essentially saying they couldn’t act on criminal charges because it would harm the larger financial system. That’s got many calling HSBC (and potentially others) too-big-to-jail.”

However, the DOJ had many data points to factor into its calculus on settlement. First, and foremost, (apparently) remains Arthur Anderson. If the DOJ had pushed for a criminal settlement, would it have debarred HSBC from doing business with the US government or its monies going through the US banking system? What would be the effect of such a remedy? What if the DOJ had pushed too far and HSBC felt it had no choice but to go to trial, would they have been Arthur Andersen’d out of business? Perhaps this is a variant of the “too big to fail” argument, called the ‘too-big-to-put-out of business’ argument.

But there is another reason for the specific terms of the HBSC settlement, which was discussed by Lanny Breuer during the news conference. He stressed the extraordinary cooperation by HSBC during the investigation in addition to the structural changes the bank put in place as noted above. If the DOJ wants to obtain the highest level of cooperation from a defendant during an investigation, turning around after such cooperation and indicting either the entity or a bunch of its employees will most probably end such a level of cooperation. My guess is that the DOJ wants to encourage as much cooperation as it can from parties under investigation. That would include greater compliance after the resolution in addition to extraordinary cooperation during the investigation. However this may not be enough to quell the critics. So the DOJ may be stuck in the position of damned if they do (indict) and damned if they don’t (indict).

But whatever your take on the DOJ’s position as to HSBC, it certainly has been a year of reckoning for “Banks Behaving Badly”.

This publication contains general information only and is based on the experiences and research of the author. The author is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, legal advice, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such legal advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified legal advisor. The author, his affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person or entity that relies on this publication. The Author gives his permission to link, post, distribute, or reference this article for any lawful purpose, provided attribution is made to the author. The author can be reached at tfox@tfoxlaw.com.

© Thomas R. Fox, 2012

December 17, 2012

Days of Future Passed: The Moody Blues and the End of Facilitation Payments?

Nights in White Satin, never reaching the end,

Letters I’ve Written, never meaning to send

This past weekend I caught the Moody Blues’ tour celebrating the 45th anniversary of their seminal classic album, “Days of Future Passed”. This was the second album released by the band and while I had always thought of it as the first rock concept album, it is seen by many rock critics as a precursor to progressive rock music. Bill Holdship, Yahoo! Music, said that the band “created an entire genre here.” Robert Christgau noted that it was “closer to high-art pomp than psychedelia.” And finally, Allmusic editor Bruce Eder calls the album “one of the defining documents of the blossoming psychedelic era, and one of the most enduringly popular albums of its era.” The band had its core members of Justin Hayward, John Lodge and Graeme Edge playing at the concert and I can assure you that even in their 70s, they can still rock.

I thought about this album and its title while reading the Memorandum and Order from District Judge Keith Ellison in the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) civil action filed against current and former officers of Noble Corporation, Mark A. Jackson and James R. Ruehlen. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) commentariat has gone both ways on interpreting the Court’s Order; witness the headline by the FCPA Professor, “Judge Grants Jackson And Ruehlen’s Motion To Dismiss SEC’s Monetary Claims – Finds That SEC Was Not Diligent In Bringing Case And That SEC Failed To Negate Facilitation Payments Exception – However Judge Allows SEC To File An Amended Complaint”, in contrast with Dick Cassin on the FCPA Blog, whose headline read “Great guidance from the bench: ‘The FCPA casts a wide net”. However, I found one other part of the Court’s ruling by far the most interesting. It was the section which discussed whether the defendant’s claims that their actions met the facilitation payment exception under the FCPA. The Court granted the SEC leave to amend to proffer facts which would overcome the facilitation payment exception.

The allegations of facilitation payment exception as a defense in this lawsuit turn on permits called Temporary Import Permits (TIPs) in Nigeria. As set out in the Court’s ruling, “TIPs allow drilling rigs to operate in Nigerian waters without payment of permanent import duties. Under Nigerian law, the Nigeria Customs Service (“NCS”) grants TIPs for rigs that will be in the country for only one year. NCS may, in its discretion, grant up to three six-month extensions to a TIP. Upon the expiration of a TIP and any TIP extensions, NCS requires the rig to be exported from Nigeria. If the owner of the rig wishes to continue using the rig after the expiration of a TIP and any applicable extensions, he can either convert the rig to permanent import status and pay the appropriate permanent import duties, or he can export the rig and seek a new rig TIP to re-import the rig. In order to obtain a TIP or an extension, the rig owner must submit an application thought a licensed customs agent as the NCS does not deal directly with rig owners such as Noble. The SEC alleged that the defendants authorized customer agents to submit false paperwork and pay bribes to NCS officials to obtain these TIPs. In other words, the SEC alleged that the Nobel officials knew that the company was not entitled to obtain the TIPs as they did not meet the basic requirements for the granting of such licenses.”

Judge Ellison, in his ruling, noted that the “SEC alleges that Defendants authorized payments to foreign officials in order to obtain TIPs based on false paperwork, in contravention of what Defendants knew was the proper process for obtaining TIPs. As discussed supra in Part III.A.1, the SEC pled sufficient facts to support the allegation that Defendants knew these payments would be going to Nigerian government officials to obtain TIPs in a manner that violated Nigerian law. The grant of permits by government officials that have no authority to grant permits on the basis sought is in no way a ministerial act nor can it be characterized as “speeding the proper performance of a foreign official’s duties.” Similarly, if payments were made to induce officials to validate the paperwork while knowing it to be false, that too would not qualify as simply expediting a ministerial act.” [all citations by Court omitted]

The FCPA states that it “shall not apply to any facilitating or expediting payment to a foreign official, political party, or party official the purpose of which is to expedite or to secure the performance of a routine governmental action . . .” Further, the FCPA has a list of examples of facilitation payments in the definition of routine governmental actions, which include the following:

  • Obtaining permits, licenses, or other official documents;
  • Processing governmental papers such as visas and work orders;
  • Providing police protection, mail services, scheduling inspections;
  • Providing utilities, cargo handling; or
  • Actions of a similar nature.

The key has always been whether the function in question was a “routine governmental action” because a facilitation payment is clearly a bribe. From the Court’s discussion, it is clear that it is thinking that if the end goal of a facilitation payment is to obtain something that the person or entity making the facilitation knows that they are not entitled to, then it cannot be a facilitation payment because it is not a “routine governmental action”.  However, the Court also focused on “corruptly” and cited to the legislative history of the statute for the following:

The word “corruptly” is used in order to make clear that the offer, payment, promise, or gift, must be intended to induce the recipient to misuse his official position; for example, . . . to induce a foreign official to fail to perform an official function. The word “corruptly” connotes an evil motive or purpose such as that required under 18 U.S.C. 201(b) which prohibits domestic bribery. As in 18 U.S.C. 201(b), the word “corruptly” indicates an intent or desire to wrongfully influence the recipient.

As part of its instructions to the SEC to re-plead the Court said that it should plead Nigerian law to show this corrupt intent. If the SEC does this and the illegal nature of the defendants’ actions under Nigerian law forms a basis of a successful action, how long do you think it will be before the entire concept of the facilitation payment comes in an enforcement action as there is no country in the world which allows bribery of its own government officials?

If the Court continues down this path, we may see the United States move towards a de facto end of the facilitation payment exception. The OECD, among others, has urged the United States to ban these types of bribes. The UK Bribery Act has no such exception under it. Numerous commentators, including Jon Jordan, have argued eloquently for the facilitation payment exception to end.

So what about the Moody Blues and Days of Future Passed? Just as many people remember only the song “Nights In White Satin” from the album and do not recall its greater importance as the either the first concept album or as a precursor to progressive rock, analysts and commentators may miss the significance of Judge Ellison’s ruling as it may signal the first step on the judicial journey to end facilitation payments.

For a copy of the Court’s ruling, click here.

This publication contains general information only and is based on the experiences and research of the author. The author is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, legal advice, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such legal advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified legal advisor. The author, his affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person or entity that relies on this publication. The Author gives his permission to link, post, distribute, or reference this article for any lawful purpose, provided attribution is made to the author. The author can be reached at tfox@tfoxlaw.com.

© Thomas R. Fox, 2012

December 14, 2012

A Cornucopia of Great FCPA Articles for Your Friday Consideration

It has been a great couple of weeks for article regarding the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). While I have resisted having a Friday Round Up of all things FCPA compliance related because both the FCPA Professor, on his site and Dawn Lomer on iSight.com have two of the best, some of the articles that I have read over the past are well worth a post about. So with a tip of the hat to both of these blogging colleagues, I submit for your Friday consideration the three following authors with their superior articles.

The FCPA Professor

The FCPA Professor has published two excellent articles over the past two weeks on the FCPA. The first was his 80 page tome, “The Story Of The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act”. In this article, published in the Ohio State Law Journal, the Professor explored the more than two years of investigation, deliberation, and consideration, which led to the passage of the FCPA in 1977. Noting that it was  “a pioneering statute and the first law in the world governing domestic business conduct with foreign government officials in foreign markets” the Professor wove together “information and events scattered in the FCPA’s voluminous legislative record to tell the FCPA’s story through original voices of actual participants who shaped the law.” In his article I learned who supported legislation aimed at stopped the bribing of foreign government official and how the final legislation came into being after a long and arduous process.

This week, the Professor published his review of the Department of Justice FCPA Guidance, which came out last month, entitled “Grading the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Guidance“. It was published in Bloomberg / BNA’s White Collar Crime Report. As you have come to expect from the Professor, his review is proactive. His abstract details some of the items he discusses, such as “(i) the enforcement agencies’ motivations in issuing the Guidance and the fact that it should have been issued years ago; (ii) the utility of the Guidance from an access-of-information perspective and how the Guidance can be used as a measuring stick for future enforcement agency activity; (iii) how the Guidance is an advocacy piece and not a well-balanced portrayal of the FCPA as it is replete with selective information, half-truths, and, worse information that is demonstratively false; (iv) how, despite the Guidance, much about FCPA enforcement remains opaque; and (v) how, despite the Guidance, FCPA reform remains a viable issue.”

As I once said about Dick Cassin and his FCPA Blog, “If the FCPA Blog didn’t exist, someone would have to create it and fortunately for us Dick has done so.” To this list I now must add the FCPA Professor, so to paraphrase Paul Samuelson, when asked to comment about Milton Friedman winning the Nobel Prize in Economics, “if the FCPA Professor didn’t exist, we would have to invent him.” You can agree or disagree with the Professor but he stirs debate and puts out topics for dialogue, which as the son of Professor, is what I think that academicians should do.

 Alexandra Wrage

For the longest time, my This Week In FCPA colleague Howard Sklar crowed to me about Alexandra and how he was such a big fan. Of course I knew of her and her work as President of Trace. Like many of us, I bemoaned the fact she no longer blogs on a regular basis. She does speak on a regular basis and early this year I heard her speak at the Beacon Events Corruption and Compliance South and Southeast Asia Summit. Fortunately she spoke after I did because she is a very dynamic speaker. In addition to her numerous speaking engagements, she does publish articles from time-to-time and yesterday we were treated to a most timely article on gift giving and gift receiving. It was published on the Corporate Insider blog site of Corporate Counsel and was entitled, “‘Tis the Season When Gifts Become Bribes”. In her article, Wrage explored the receipt of gifts by employees in the context of corruption. The article is certainly worth your time to read but she listed the points that any company or compliance professional needs to consider in a gift giving or gift receiving policy:

  • Gifts should be modest, tokens of esteem.
  • Ideally, they should bear the corporate logo or reflect the company’s products and they should be provided openly and transparently.
  • Delivering to an office is preferable to sending to a home address.
  • One gift-giving holiday or event should be observed. It doesn’t matter if it’s Diwali, Eid, the Lunar New Year, July 4th, or Christmas, but pick (only) one.
  • Perishable gifts of flowers or food are generally thought to be less risky, in part because they can’t be resold.
  • Give consistently and without regard to pending or recent procurement or other official decisions.
  • Follow corporate policy.
  • Document everything.
  • Give in good faith and without expectation of any quid pro quo.
  • A moderate annual affirmation of both new and longstanding relationships is not a bribe.

Good ideas to follow any time of the year.

Jim McGrath

Jim is a former prosecutor and chief legal officer of a federally funded drug task force so he comes with a different perspective than my civil law background. Jim blogs on his own site, the Internal Investigations Blog and as you may discern from the name of his blog, he tends to look at the investigative side of things. He did so again in a post entitled, “Little Things Mean A Lot: The FCPA Guide on Internal Investigations”. McGrath looked at the DOJ FCPA Guidance from his investigative perspective and came up with the following nugget: “An effective compliance program should include a mechanism for an organization’s employees and others to report suspected or actual misconduct or violations of the company’s policies on a confidential basis and without fear of retaliation. Companies may employ, for example, anony­mous hotlines or ombudsmen. Moreover, once an allegation is made, companies should have in place an efficient, reliable, and properly funded process for investigating the allegation and documenting the company’s response, including any disciplinary or remediation measures taken.” From this he wrote that the “text mandates that companies not only have “in place an efficient [and] reliable . . . process for investigating [an] allegation”, but that it be “properly funded” as well.  [italics in original]

McGrath believes that this language should raise concerns for Chief Compliance Officer “across the land, since “properly funded internal investigation” has now been added to the pile of ill-defined terms such as “foreign official”, “instrumentality”, and “anything of value”. Further he raised the following questions:

  • What happens if the unforeseeable occurs and the wheels come off in far greater severity than anticipated when the CCO stocked the internal probe war chest?
  • Will that shortcoming be considered a hallmark of a less-than-effective compliance program and militate against a non-prosecution or deferred prosecution agreement or will it factor into a higher culpability score and greater penalties?
  • And who – as if practitioners didn’t know – will decide these issues?

I recommend all of these articles and authors to you. Each brings a different perspective and each can help you build, create or enhance your compliance program to meet best standards. A good Friday to all and let us hope that the Texans can recover from their debacle in Boston.

This publication contains general information only and is based on the experiences and research of the author. The author is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, legal advice, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such legal advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified legal advisor. The author, his affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person or entity that relies on this publication. The Author gives his permission to link, post, distribute, or reference this article for any lawful purpose, provided attribution is made to the author. The author can be reached at tfox@tfoxlaw.com.

© Thomas R. Fox, 2012

December 13, 2012

The Ethical Business Compact-A New Compliance Best Practice?

Found on page 54 of the recently released Department of Justice (DOJ) Guidance on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) is the following language:

“Chapter 8 of the Sentencing Guidelines, which governs the sentencing of organizations, takes into account an organization’s remediation as part of an effective compliance and ethics program.”

Chris Bauer, among others, gently chides me from time-to-time that I do not put enough emphasis on ethics in a FCPA compliance program. Probably part of the reason is that, with my legal training, I tend to think of rules, regulations and laws as the guideposts for corporate conduct. Chris, once again among others, reminds us that corporations are made up of people and that there can never be enough rules and regulations to cover every situation. So if employees have the right ethical compass they would tend to do the right things in business going forward.

Yesterday, at the Hanson Wade Pharmaceutical Anti-Corruption Compliance Conference, I heard a talk by Jay Mumford of Ethisphere on the Health Care Industry Executive and Company Conduct Compact. Jay’s talk focused largely on the ethics component of compliance and ethics and he talked about an Ethisphere initiative which helps company’s in the health care industry to add an ‘ethics’ component to compliance and ethics. Jay began his talk by pointing out the loss of trust that Americans have in various industries and corporations. When most Americans, generally, have such a lack of trust, as after the 2008 financial meltdown, they turn to more regulations. The financial meltdown and the perception that the financial industry caused it led to the passage of the Dodd-Frank legislation. Jay pointed out that the 848 page long Dodd-Frank bill now has over 8000 pages of regulations interpreting this law. He said that the law firm of Davis Polk has estimated that this is only 1/3 of the total page number of regulations to come to implement Dodd-Frank. His point was stark and clear, there is absolutely, positively no way that any corporation or person could know all the regulations.

One of the things that Ethisphere tries to bring to the compliance and ethics debate is a manner to rise above the rules-only approach. They recently initiated a new program in the Life Sciences Industry called the Company Conduct Compact “Compact”. This Compact is designed to reduce the probability of corporate misconduct and to help to set up an affirmative defense if an individual prosecution action is in the offing. The Compact itself offers companies and individuals a method to proactively commit to a set of heightened ethical principles and specific behaviors, based upon the elements found in the US Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

The Compact is designed to be executed by both the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and top Senior Management in a company. It is set up to align with the company’s overall compliance efforts. The commitments made in the Compact are subjected to external verification and testing. Each commitment is set out in writing for each signatory and the CEO commits his or her organization to the seven principles set out in the Compact. The seven principles are as follows:

  1. Written Policy and Procedures. The organization will have a comprehensive written set of policies and procedures that establish a best in class compliance program, including a Code of Conduct, company-wide policies and procedures and specific internal controls for each department. The leader commits to proactively identifying, preventing and correcting behaviors that are not consistent with the company’s values. If the leader has a disagreement with the standards, he or she will work within the system to address them.
  2. Program Oversight. The company will ensure that the compliance function has vigorous support from management and the Board of Directors, is well-resourced and financed and has appropriately elevated status within the company. The leader commits to full, consistent and active implementation of the company’s compliance regime and will give the time, attention and resources to support his or her area of responsibility within the overall compliance structure.
  3. Education and Awareness. The company commits to periodically and in a practical manner educate employees on its standards and procedures, through effective training. The leader commits that all of his direct reports will complete all required compliance and ethics training in a timely manner and that if these direct reports do not do so, the leader’s compensation may be effected. The leader will also attend a number of live compliance and ethics training sessions for employees to emphasize the importance of it throughout the company.
  4. Monitoring and auditing; reporting channels for concern. The company shall embrace both ongoing monitoring and auditing as techniques to help ensure that its compliance program is followed. The company shall periodically assess the effectiveness of its compliance program and maintain a dedicated reporting channel which can be used anonymously. The leader commits that at least once per quarter he or she will sit down individually with the Executive Leadership Team (ELT) and ask them what specific steps they are taking to help the company do business in a compliant manner. There shall also be a strong commitment to the creation of a culture of no retaliation for reporting of compliance violations.
  5. Enforcement and discipline incentives. The company will enforce its compliance program through both incentives and discipline. There should be a portion of compensation based upon doing business ethically. The leader commits to enforcing the company’s ethical standards, through both positive and negative incentives, including him or herself, through an agreement for claw backs if a FCPA violation occurs on his or her shift. The leader believes that senior management should be held to a higher standard and embraces that obligation.
  6. Response and prevention. This commitment means that after misconduct has been discovered, the organization shall take reasonable steps to respond appropriately and prevent further similar misconduct. The leader commits to learn what has happened, why it happened and how to prevent it from occurring again. He or she will not shift the blame to ‘the system’ but will work to prevent it from occurring again.
  7. Risk management. Here there is a commitment to periodically assess the risk of misconduct and the signatory shall take appropriate steps to aid in the design, implementation or modification of the company’s compliance program to reduce the risk of misconduct. The leader commits to actively manage the compliance risks that an organization faces no ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality for thee. The risk assessment process must be embraced.

While sitting through Jay’s presentation I initially thought that no CEO would agree to such obligations, but as they are largely based on obligations which already exist, legally I do not see much downside to a CEO and senior management agreeing to such obligations. As Jay pointed out, one of the very large reasons for signing this Compact and performing its obligations is to present a viable defense if the DOJ comes knocking. But more than simply another defense, the Compact really does help a company to demonstrate to its employees, its shareholders and its business relations a commitment to doing business ethically. As I told Jay after his talk, primarily I thought this initiative was so far out in left field it had no chance of success. However, what may be today’s initiative from left field may be tomorrow’s ‘Enhanced Compliance Obligations’ and next year’s new best practices in compliance. The Ethisphere Compact certainly is something that companies can and should consider.

This publication contains general information only and is based on the experiences and research of the author. The author is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, legal advice, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such legal advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified legal advisor. The author, his affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person or entity that relies on this publication. The Author gives his permission to link, post, distribute, or reference this article for any lawful purpose, provided attribution is made to the author. The author can be reached at tfox@tfoxlaw.com.

© Thomas R. Fox, 2012

December 12, 2012

Doing More with Less in Your Compliance Program (Not the 2013 Astros)

It was reported today that the Houston Astros pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training on February 11, 2013, with position players reporting on February 15. I thought about how much I used to look forward to Spring Training in conjunction with the phrase that I think that most people are aware of ‘how to do more with less’. Could it be that my Astros will try and do more with less next year? Alas, I do not believe that will be the situation with the Astros, who have apparently decided to do ‘less with less’ by not spending any of the $80MM they receive from the local television contract on their $30MM payroll. Either new owner Jim Crane needs some serious money to service his mountain of debt or he is just keeping the money and laughing all the way home. One thing neither Jim Crane nor I am laughing about is the smack down the Houston Texas received by the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football this week. Being on the short side of two ‘friendly’ wagers for this game, keep checking out my blog, as you will soon see me gracing a Patriots jersey so stay tuned. And for Matt and Jay, I wear an XL.

The Astros upcoming season came to mind when I was reading a recent Corner Office section in the New York Times (NYT), where reporter Adam Bryant interviewed Sandra L. Kurtzig, chairwoman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Kenandy, in an article entitled “Don’t Chase Everything That Shines”. One of the things that Kurtzig said which struck me was “I am conservative in hiring. I don’t over-hire. The reason is that you can get a lot more work done with fewer people. If you have a lot of people, you have to give them something to do, and you have to give them something to manage, and then you have to manage them. You can get a lot less done. So you want to have a core set of people while you’re really trying to discover your product, your direction, your market. And the more people you have, the more difficult it is to take risks because it affects a lot more people.”

Kurtzig takes this same attitude to making decisions, particularly in the area of business opportunities. She was quoted as saying, “I don’t run after “shiny objects.” That’s a mistake that a lot of people make in running a company, especially in starting one. They tend to get a lot of opportunities from people who want to partner with them. And these are just shiny objects, because there are very few partners that end up being right for your company. So I’m much more selective. If I hear something, I’m very quick to think, ‘Hey, that’s a shiny object; let’s get back to work.’ I think that’s what’s so distracting to a lot of companies — they see a big customer or some other distraction, and they spend too much time on it and they lose their way.” This thought about not running after shiny objects; I think that it may be one of the most overlooked aspects of due diligence on third parties. An evolving best practice regarding third parties must include a step that requires a business unit person to provide a business case as to why your company may need another third party to provide the services, goods or products; whether on the sales side or in the supply chain. This Business Justification should be obtained before you send out your questionnaire, assign a risk ranking or begin due diligence. There needs to be a valid business reason for going through the time and expense of looking at another third party representative and not simply because someone wants another company.

Kurtzig said that one thing she strongly believes in is transparency. She said that she is constantly asking her employees for their opinions. So, for instance, she asks “what they like about their job and what they don’t like about their job. What can we be doing better? In your previous job, how did you do it? What worked better and what worked worse than what we are doing now?” She believes that you must really listen to someone, “two-way conversations are an important ingredient for building a company. Nowadays, I hear that so many younger people who are starting companies are so used to working on the Internet that they tend to send only e-mails and communicate with their screens more than they communicate with people around them. You need to interact with people and not just your computers.”

I often write about the need to listen as a part of your compliance program. Today, Jeffery Spalding, Assistant General Counsel at Halliburton, spoke at the Hanson Wade Pharmaceutical Anti-Corruption Compliance Conference that I am attending in Philadelphia. One of the things he spoke about is the live compliance training that Halliburton puts on around the globe for its employees. In addition to the benefits of receiving live training, employees get to meet Jeff and put a face to a name. He gets to not only meet them but hear some of their concerns in person. This leads to much better chance that they will call him for compliance advice in the future. One of the key points he highlighted is that he listens and that engenders respect from the company’s employees across the globe.

I found the Kurtzig interview to provide some interesting and well placed management pointers which have application to a compliance program and are useful to compliance practitioners. Now if I could just get the Astros to use some of them.

This publication contains general information only and is based on the experiences and research of the author. The author is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, legal advice, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such legal advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified legal advisor. The author, his affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person or entity that relies on this publication. The Author gives his permission to link, post, distribute, or reference this article for any lawful purpose, provided attribution is made to the author. The author can be reached at tfox@tfoxlaw.com.

© Thomas R. Fox, 2012

December 11, 2012

How to Create a Post-Acquisition FCPA Compliance Program Integration Plan

Your company has just made its largest acquisition ever and your Chief Executive Officer (CEO) says that he wants you to have a compliance post-acquisition integration plan on his desk in one week. Where do you begin? Of course you think about the recently released Department of Justice (DOJ) Guidance on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) but remember that it did not have the time lines established in the recent enforcement actions involving Johnson & Johnson (J&J), Pfizer and Defendant Data Systems & Solutions LLC (DS&S) regarding post-acquisition integration of a FCPA compliance program by an acquiring company into a company. While there are time frames listed in the Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPAs) that can be ascertained, one of the things that most compliance professionals struggle with is how to perform these post-acquisition compliance integrations. I recently saw an article in the December issue of the Harvard Business Review, entitled “Two Routes to Resilience”, which presented some concepts that I thought might be of use to the compliance practitioner in a post-acquisition compliance program integration scenario. It certainly might give you some ideas to present to your CEO next week.

The authors, Clark Gilbert, Matthew Eyring and Richard Foster reviewed the situation where an entity must transform itself in response to various factors such as market shifts, new technologies or low cost start-ups providing competition. In order to make such a transition, the authors posit that two transformations must take place. The first one “adapts the core business to the realities of the disrupted marketplace.” This process creates a “disruptive business” within the older more established culture. This leads to the second transformation, which the authors denominate as “establishing a ‘capabilities exchange’- a new organizational process that allows the two efforts to share resources without interfering with each other’s operations.” It is this second transformation that I want to focus on in this article.

Anyone who has gone through a large merger or acquisition knows how terrifying it can be for the individual employee. Many people, particularly at the acquired company will be fearful of losing their jobs. This fear, mis-placed or well-founded, can lead to many difficulties in the integration process. In whatever time frame the FCPA compliance practitioner faces: whether 18 months under the J&J DPA, 12 months under the Pfizer DPA or ‘as soon as is practicable’ under the language of the DS&S DPA; the process needs to move forward in an expeditious manner. In their article, the authors suggest the creation of a ‘Capabilities Exchange’ which allows “the two organizations to live together and share strengths” and will coordinate “the two transformational efforts so that each gets what it needs and is protected from [unwanted] interference by the other.” The authors put forth five steps in this process.

  1. Establish Leadership. The authors note that while this may be the “simplest step but also the one most open to abuse.” The authors believe that the process should be run by just a few top people. To establish the correct ‘tone-at-the-top’ I believe that you will need the Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) of the acquiring company and a similar counter-part from the acquired company.
  2. Identify the resources the two organizations can or need to share. Here the authors are concerned with how much can be brought from the acquired organization into the integration. Hopefully the acquiring organization will have some idea of the state of the compliance program before the deal is closed. It may be that there is some or all of a minimum best practices compliance program in place. If so, attention needs to turn to what can continue and how will need to be integrated.
  3. Create Exchange Teams. The authors recognize that in many “synergy efforts, everyone is expected to think about ways resources might be shared.” However, they advocated that in Capability Exchanges, the responsibility should be “carefully confined to a series of teams.” Senior leadership should create these teams by assigning a small number of people from both entities with the responsibility of allocating resources used in the integration project.
  4. Protect Boundaries. The authors believe that for true transformation to take place the organization “must operate as if the future of the company depended on it.” But they must do so in a way that does not “stomp on the camel’s nose” simply because it sticks it in the tent. Once again the Leadership Team established under Item 1 must provide back up if policing boundaries is needed.
  5. Scale up and promote the new compliance program. Interestingly the authors believe that it is important to celebrate and promote the new entity to both the acquiring company, others in the company and even external stakeholders. It is important that markets and others in the same or similar industry see this evolution and growth.

Given the pressures and time frames in both the pre-and post-acquisition arenas, I believe this article provides some insight into how the CCO or compliance practitioner can think about the compliance program integration that is required in the mergers and acquisition (M&A) context. While the ideas presented by the authors relate to a different area, I believe that they can provide insight into the compliance field as well. It also could of great use to you in presenting a program to your CEO.

This publication contains general information only and is based on the experiences and research of the author. The author is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, legal advice, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such legal advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified legal advisor. The author, his affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person or entity that relies on this publication. The Author gives his permission to link, post, distribute, or reference this article for any lawful purpose, provided attribution is made to the author. The author can be reached at tfox@tfoxlaw.com.

© Thomas R. Fox, 2012

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