Show Notes:

What is risk and how should it be evaluated? What is the data that should be reviewed to determine if an increase in sales is based on unethical or even illegal behavior? Finally, what happens when you migrate company personnel who have been involved in such illegal or unethical behavior to other locations, does their nefarious conduct spread throughout the organization or is it curtailed? In this episode Matt Kelly and I explore some of these questions and others.

Every Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) and compliance practitioner understands that the sales side of a business is where the highest risk is located because that is most generally the side of the business which generates the most money and potential profit. Yet looking at sales numbers are not something which compliance professionals will generally have access to as a part of a compliance program.

Sales spikes in low performing regions can and should be reviewed by a wide variety of disciplines within an organization, including compliance. One would think that companies would want to know and understand the reasons for any sales increase so that it could be determined if such strategies might work in other areas of a company’s operations. This is true for the compliance function as well. As far back as the December 2012, in the Eli Lilly Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) enforcement action brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), I raised the issue that a dramatic sales increase should be reviewed by compliance to determine if there were any corruption issues involved. This same logic works for sales in the US over products as benign as debit cards. Moreover, if you consider whether the issue should be reviewed by a Board of Directors, it certainly would be material for one state region going from worst to first in sales.

One CCO told me that every time he hears an employee who wins a sales award for making numbers wildly far above plan, he wonders what might have led to such remarkable attainment. Sales spikes is data that increasingly becomes more important for compliance to consider. Just as the Key Energy FCPA enforcement specifically mentioned transaction monitoring around massive increases in gift giving in a geographic region where sales had spiked.