FCPA Compliance and Ethics Blog

November 11, 2013

Honor Our Veterans and Compliance in the Supply Chain

Today is National Remembrance Day for Veterans who served their country and across the world. In the US we call it Veterans Day. In the UK, it is called Remembrance Day. Whatever it is called, it is designed so that we may never forget the sacrifices that the men and women made so that we can live in a free society. So today, I ask you to personally thank a veteran, buy them a cup of coffee or simply reflect on those who made the ultimate sacrifice to allow us all to go forward into the 21st Century.

My father is a veteran of both World War II and the Korean Conflict. I saw him this weekend and at 87 he is still kicking along, reading, studying and thinking about the relevant issues of the day. He gave to me a copy of the Fall 2013 issue of the University of Illinois, College of Law, Comparative Labor Law & Policy Journal which had an article, entitled “Toward Joint Liability in Global Supply Chains: Addressing the Root Causes of Labor Violations In International Subcontracting Networks”, by authors Mark Anner, Jennifer Bair and Jeremy Blasi. So to honor my father’s continuing interest in anti-corruption compliance, today I will write about this article and how it informs anti-corruption compliance in the Supply Chain.

The authors starting point is that of the Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh, which killed at least 1129 workers, which has led to a “significant departure from the extant model of labor compliance that has developed over the past two decades”. The previous model of labor compliance had assumed that labor issues were a “factory-level problem and the only entity that needs to be regulated is the contractor factory.” This was enforced by companies adopting codes of conduct and then monitoring their suppliers for compliance. However, after the Rana Plaza tragedy, certain western corporations adopted the Bangladesh Accord, which anticipates joint responsibility for labor issues between both vendors and the purchasers of their goods and services. Further, the Bangladesh Accord is not merely like the prior general statements of intent but brings binding, contractually enforceable duties.

While the focus of the article was on labor issues such as pay, safety and retaliation for raising such concerns, the article did point to some interesting ideas which could be applied to this issue as it relates to anti-corruption compliance under laws such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) or UK Bribery Act. Obviously both laws require a specified protocol for the hiring of third parties which represent companies. These concepts and techniques are now being used for third parties who develop relationships with companies through the supply chain. Companies such as freight forwarders, visa processors and customs brokers have foreign governmental touch points which clearly mandate a through due diligence process under the FCPA and Bribery Act. However, many companies may not recognize their potential exposure for companies which supply them but engage in bribery and corruption to fulfill their contracts.

Using the authors discussion of the regulatory scheme for compliance of labor and safety issues for suppliers under the Bangladesh Accord I have adapted them for anti-corruption compliance. The intention is to create stable, long term relationships and also to promote a stable core of suppliers who are FCPA or Bribery Act compliant in anti-corruption and anti-bribery. These points can incentive suppliers to not only become more compliant in anti-corruption and anti-bribery programs but also reward them for doing business with other like-minded sub-suppliers and sub-contractors. They include:

  • Requiring suppliers to designate all sub-suppliers and sub-contractors that they will use.
  • Restrict the subset of sub-suppliers and sub-contractors to those who have been certified, through a recognized Non-governmental organization (NGO) or company, in anti-corruption.
  • Prohibit retaliation against supplier employees who report, in good faith, allegations of bribery and corruption.
  • Require a supplier to register the number of sub-suppliers and sub-contractors that it intends to use for a company.

For US, and other western companies, I think that there are some lessons which might be drawn from the authors’ piece in connection with their compliance programs around the Supply Chain.

Know Your Suppliers

When it comes to anti-corruption compliance in the Supply Chain, many companies either fail to embrace this concept or, worse yet, do not understand how this concept is interwoven into an overall compliance program. Indeed, one of the perceived banes of compliance is that a company is responsible for the actions of its suppliers. Nevertheless, if companies understand that suppliers are a critical component of an overall compliance program it becomes much easier to understand how such a model can and should be used as a guidepost for the Supply Chain and compliance.

The Compliance Oversight Committee

The Oversight Committee is a key component of any best practices compliance program. Not only should it be used for reviewing and managing traditional high risk areas such as third party business representatives in the sales chain; a company can create such committees for other high risk issues particular to a company. Witness the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) and its “Enhanced Compliance Obligations”. In this J&J agreed to establish “a “Sensitive Issue Triage Committee” to review and respond to any such [Foreign Corrupt Practices Act] FCPA issues as may arise.” This is precisely the type of rigor which should be included in a best practices compliance program. Compliance Committees can serve to escalate compliance issues before they become violations of the FCPA or UK Bribery Act and are becoming a part of a best practices compliance program. If a company decides to disband such a committee it must clearly perform rigorous audits or place such safeguards in place to send a message to both vendors in the Supply Chain and employees that compliance is still held in the highest regard by the company.

Risk Assessments – Don’t Let Growth Overwhelm Your Compliance Program

The Department of Justice (DOJ) continually reminds us of the need for risk assessments. One of the areas often overlooked in risk assessments is growth. Growth and indeed explosive growth can be pursued or occur while not fully assessing or even appreciating the risks involved. This could mean that there were many new vendors in the Supply Chain that did not receive the rigorous due diligence and training in anti-corruption and anti-bribery compliance. A company can also hire huge numbers of new contract employees who do not receive the same anti-corruption training as previously hired employees. These can lead to organizational incentives that become skewered towards growth and not compliance.

If a company wants to move forward with an aggressive growth model, it should assess the compliance risks of doing so. Through a risk assessment, it might be determined that compliance might suffer through the increased use of new vendors. For the compliance practitioner, these risks might also be that new vendors in the Supply Chain need full and complete compliance training, that contract employees need the same compliance training as full-time employees; additionally new vendors need rigorous screening through a robust due diligence process to not only identify Red Flags regarding corruption but to help educate them that your company takes compliance very seriously.

So today I honor my father and all Veterans everywhere. And thanks to my father for continuing to be interested enough to read articles which help inform my knowledge of anti-corruption compliance.

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, 2013

May 10, 2012

Jesse Owens and Hanson Wade’s FCPA in the Supply Chain Conference

What is the greatest one hour in the history of track and field? I would put forward the 45 minutes on May 25, 1935, when Jesse Owens, at the Big 10 Track and Field Championship run in Ann Arbor, Michigan, broke the world records in three events: the 220-yard dash, the 200-hurdles and the long jump. He also tied the world record in the 100-yard dash. Not a bad afternoon’s work.

Next month, Hanson Wade is putting on a conference in Houston which may be worthy of such a record. It is the “Oil and Gas Supply Chain Compliance” conference and the list of speakers is simply stunning. It includes the following Chief Compliance Officers (CCO): Dan Chapman, Parker Drilling; Brian Moffet, ENSCO, Jay Martin, BakerHughes; Julie Symon, KBR, Jan Farley, Dresser-Rand; John Sardar, Noble Drilling and a host of other luminaries in the field of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) compliance, including, in his only Texas appearance, the FCPA Professor, Mike Koehler. Even if you live outside of Houston, the FCPA compliance talent at this event will rival any other event in the US and for such an event not held in Washington DC or New York City, it is simply outstanding.

Some of the panels and topics for discussion include: Performing Adequate Risk Weighted FCPA Due Diligence for Acquisitions and Joint Ventures; Special Due Diligence and Contracting Considerations in Managing FCPA Risk Associated with Major International Freight Forwarders; Fresh Insights Into Mitigating FCPA Compliance Risks Through Effective Auditing; Embedding a Compliance Culture into Your Organization: Proven Intelligence on the Impact of Good Training; and the ENI experience on How to Address Specific Concerns in Procurement. These are but some of the sessions and there are many other excellent panels, sessions and speakers which I have not mentioned.

Recently one of the star speakers, Dan Chapman, Chief Compliance Officer for Parker Drilling, visited with Sara Patella about some of the issues facing US companies when dealing with third parties. Recognizing that it may be difficult for companies to know precisely what their third party partners may be doing at a specific time, Chapman stated that “The goal of a good due diligence program isn’t necessarily to identify improper activities from a retroactive standpoint.  Instead, an effective due diligence program assesses the character and propensities for improper conduct of your agents and other representatives that may act on your company’s behalf before they are engaged and then again at periodic intervals.”

Chapman also spoke about the differences in risks between developing and developed countries. He noted that in a developing country, “the bureaucracy may be so stagnant and inefficient that in order to perform services for their clients, certain vendors may feel pressure to engage in improper conduct.” This is usually coupled with a lack of internal enforcement in the developing country for those government officials who accept bribes or are otherwise engaged in corruption. Conversely in a developed country, there are usually more resources to fight corruption and perhaps greater political will as well. Wherever you might be doing business Chapman advises that the current FCPA enforcement regime should “encourage companies to avoid getting into trouble in the first place.” For the full text of the Chapman interview, click here.

I hope that you can attend this most excellent FCPA conference next month. Very few FCPA conferences focus on the supply chain and the information that you will receive at this one should be first rate. Will your day be as good as the one hour Jesse Owens had in Ann Arbor those many years ago? Why don’t you attend the event and see for yourself. It should be well worth the price of admission.

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For complete information on the Hanson Wade Conference, “Oil and Gas Supply Chain Conference“, click here. For readers of this blog, a discount is offered by Hanson Wade. You can receive the discount by entering the online discount code: FOXLAW. You can also use this discount code if you register directly with Hanson Wade.

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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

January 25, 2012

Improving Compliance Performance in Your Supply Chain

One of the areas moving towards being incorporated into a best practices compliance program is that of the supply chain. While many companies have focused significant compliance program effort towards the sales chain, the supply chain is now viewed as an area which requires compliance scrutiny. One of the questions I routinely hear is how to endow vendors in your supply chain with the same urgency of compliance initiative that is present in your company. I recently read an article, in the winter 2012 issue of the MIT Sloan Management Review, which provided some guidance on this issue. It also has wider implications for improving compliance not only in the supply chain but also in the sales chain arena of your company. The article is authored by Erica Plambeck, Hau Lee and Pamela Yatsko and is entitled “Improving Environmental Performance in your Chinese Supply Chain.”

The authors break their analysis down into two general areas. The first is “Getting to Know Your Supply Chain” and the second is “Act on Knowledge from Improved Chinese Transparency”.

Getting to Know Your Supply Chain

In this section, the authors suggest five activities which can help your company to foster identification and visibility of compliance into your supply chain.

  1. Provide incentives for identifying, disclosing and addressing problems. The authors note that many companies will audit suppliers, which they term “the checklist approach” but that such an approach does little to change behavior. The authors believe that incentivizing suppliers to do business in a more compliant manner will yield more significant compliance performance.
  2. Collaborate with NGOs to facilitate compliance education and monitoring. You should encourage suppliers to work with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the anti-corruption area so that your suppliers will take greater responsibility towards compliance. This can be done by working with TRACE International, Transparency International or a NGO which works towards a global business ethic of anti-corruption and anti-bribery.
  3. Make use of changing governmental attitudes towards corruption. Just as the Chinese government has changed its tune on environmental issues, it has recently done so regarding anti-corruption. This change can be used as a signal to Chinese companies of the need for increased awareness and importance.
  4. Work with multi-brand forums to standardize compliance audits. This is an interesting concept which would allow a supplier to receive a compliance audit which could then be used as a reference point in the compliance due diligence portion of your supplier approval process.
  5. Encourage anti-corruption transparency as an efficiency tool. While many believe that transparency means additional costs and slows down a sales or production cycle, many have found the opposite to be true. Companies which operate with greater compliance transparency not only do so more efficiently but also in a more cost effective manner.

Act on Knowledge from Your Supply Chain

With visibility into the five areas identified above, your company is now poised to improve performance. Once again, the authors are focusing on improving environmental performance, but I believe that their seven listed action steps work in the compliance arena as well; they are as follows:

  1. Encourage training of compliance professionals. US companies can work towards training Chinese compliance professionals at their home companies. I realize that many out there will proclaim that such training cannot be done but several US companies provide such training to their third party business partners.
  2. Put skin in the game. Prospects for the greatest compliance improvements and conducting business in an ethical manner come from locations where both the US Company and Chinese supplier have a stake in the outcome. Not only is training a key, as noted above, but insert a compliance component into the financial of the relationship. Also work with the Chinese company to improve its compliance function through audits and assessments.
  3. Learn from your suppliers and facilitate learning among your suppliers. US companies need to confront directly the cultural differences between both cultures. Additionally, a successful compliance program does not simply ram a US law, here the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), down the throats of local suppliers. Learn the nuances of local culture regarding gifts and entertainment from your suppliers and incorporate that knowledge into your training.
  4. Collaborate with other US companies to drive change across suppliers. Work with industry groups to mandate that any supplier conducts business in an ethical manner.
  5. Build collaborative training centers. This will not require your company to violate the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. Be a leader in your company and set up collaborative learning or training centers for compliance. Just as compliance is the most open business function within the US business community in terms of sharing best practices, use this compliance community to lead to ethical business in local suppliers.
  6. Use your suppliers to train Tier 2 suppliers. This is a key component of the authors’ thesis. You should be able use your direct suppliers to train their suppliers. By creating such multi-stakeholder approaches, the DNA of compliance will be driven further down the supply chain.
  7. Tailor programs to local realities. Similar to step 3 above, you must tailor your message to your local audience. This includes your message roll out. Your compliance program roll out must take into account both human resources constraints and other local conditions while providing incentives to suppliers to take ownership of compliance.

This program may not be easy. However, the authors have provided a framework from which you can design an overall approach to inculcating compliance in your supply chain. I believe it portends a growing trend towards partnering with your business relationships to ensure compliance with not only international anti-corruption and anti-bribery regimes, such as the FCPA and UK Bribery Act, but also local anti-corruption laws. The article is well worth a look.

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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