Book Review: Bribery and Corruption: Navigating the Global Risks

Originally printed in The Value Examiner

Bribery and Corruption: Navigating the Global Risks focuses primarily on the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), but also provides information on the U.K. Bribery Act and some other key international regulations.

For the uninitiated, the early chapters of the book provide a good overview of the laws, their application, and related regulations. For those already familiar with the laws, these chapters are a good review of the high points of the regulations.

Common Sense in Internal Investigations

Last week Mike Volkov had a great post on his blog about using common sense in your internal investigations. Mike is an FCPA expert, and the guy you want to go to if your company is the target of a government investigation or inquiry.

What makes Mike the better choice than the other attorneys who sell their services for internal investigations and compliance issues (and there are a lot of them!) is his level of experience. He was a federal prosecutor for a long time, and has deep experience with government prosecutions. You don’t want someone who just knows how to push paper. You need someone who knows the government process and how parts of the investigation are going to happen, what chance there may be for settlement, and how the government investigators are going to react to certain pieces of information (beyond the laws, and into the reality).

The Justice Department’s Slippery Slope: Enforcement Versus Regulation

Guest post by Michael Volkov, Esq.

The Department of Justice is proud of its record on FCPA enforcement. They take credit whenever and wherever they can. They trumpet every settlement. They proudly proclaim that over half of last year’s criminal fines were collected for FCPA violations. They are entitled to claim success.

It is hard to argue against prosecutions of private companies and individuals who engage in foreign bribery. Such conduct skews competition in the global marketplace, undermines the integrity of foreign governments and threatens to destabilize governments. These harms are more than evident – they are inescapable and persuasive. Our national interest supports reducing foreign bribery to protect the integrity of the global economy and foreign governments.

Finding Hidden Income and Assets

From my thought leadership series at Securities Docket:

Cases of financial fraud often focus on the core issue of where the money went. Successfully carrying out a fraud scheme involves not only taking the money, but covering up the fraud and hiding the money trail. Recent headlines have consumers wondering how someone like John Corzine of MF Global could have no idea where hundreds of millions of dollars went. But skilled financial investigators know there is always a trail, and while the money may or may not be recovered, it can be located.

Article at CFO.com: Investigating a Compliance Failure

How to determine the right mix of expertise for a fraud investigation.

By Tracy Coenen, Contributor to CFO.com

It’s every CFO’s worst nightmare: despite your best efforts, your company’s compliance program has failed. There are credible reports of fraud and corruption inside the company, and an initial analysis of the situation confirms a problem. An internal investigation is necessary to determine the magnitude of the fraud, the parties involved, and the company’s financial and reputational exposure under government regulations.

How should you proceed? These investigations are often high stakes, so it is important to do things the right way from the start. In-house counsel should be involved in any situation involving allegations or evidence of fraud. Once executives have sufficient reason to believe the allegations are credible, they should involve outside counsel as well.

Whistleblower Case Study: Independent Internal Investigations

From my Thought Leadership series at Securities Docket:

When a whistleblower goes to a government agency with allegations of fraud and corruption, no one knows whether the government will act. The more detailed and credible the allegations, the more likely the government will ask questions.  The company may even have the great “fortune” of being subject to a full-blown government investigation.

FCPA Guidance to be Released by Department of Justice

Guest Post by David Quinones, Executive Director, International Association for Asset Recovery

While it was just a brief comment during a lengthy speech, United States Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer’s mention of impending guidance on the resurgent Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) from the Justice Department

Amendments made to the 1977 Act in 1988 said that consultations between regulators, department heads and legislators should be held to devise guidance and ensure “the business community would be assisted by further clarification.” But the clarification never came. Starting in 2009, FCPA enforcement increased in size and scope, and businesses snared in controversy over what had been business-as-usual chirped that the goal posts had moved.

Michael Volkov on Internal Investigations: Best Practices

Guest Post by Michael Volkov

In-House counsel and corporate compliance officers dodge bullets everyday as they stare down the barrels of aggressive prosecutors, regulators, civil litigants, whistleblowers, disgruntled employees and shareholders prodded by trial attorneys to file derivative suits at the drop of a hat. In the face of all of these risks, internal investigations have become commonplace and a standard defensive tactic for a company to regain some leverage, learn the scope of a potential problem and then develop a plan for resolving a particular issue.

All too often, companies follow the rote formula developed in the Sarbanes-Oxley era of the early 2000s. Those same formulas are being applied in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and in more discrete global anti-corruption, money laundering, export compliance and antitrust enforcement matters.

Article at CFO.com: When Your Compliance Program Fails

cfo.comThe steps to take when an employee comes forward with a fraud tip, whether the allegations are false or not.

By Tracy Coenen, Contributor to CFO.com

You think your company has a robust compliance program to prevent financial-statement fraud, asset misappropriation, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations, and other financial frauds. There are checks and balances in place, with lawyers, internal auditors, executives, and the board of directors keeping an eye on things.

Still, the unthinkable happens. Reports of a major internal fraud surface, and the scheme may involve several members of middle or upper management. The information – received through an employee’s whisper, an internal hotline, or the rumor mill - has enough substance to be deemed credible, yet not enough to know exactly who is involved, how wide-reaching the fraud may be, the amount of money stolen, or the exposure to government action and penalties.

CFO Magazine: Creating a Culture of Compliance

I was recently quoted in CFO Magazine for an article on creating an ethical culture within companies. Below are a few excerpts, including my comments.

In December, the federal government cited a “lax corporate control environment” at Alcatel, which extended right up to the CEO and CFO, as a primary cause of the scandal. It was a finding that more companies should take to heart.

Nearly a decade after the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and amid heightened FCPA enforcement, the responsibility for shaping what is often called a “culture of compliance” inside U.S. corporations falls heavily on the C-suite — and, more than ever, on the CFO.

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