The Justice Department Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs states in Prong 10, Appropriate Controls – What was the business rationale for the use of the third parties in question? What mechanisms have existed to ensure that the contract terms specifically described the services to be performed, that the payment terms are appropriate, that the described contractual work is performed, and that compensation is commensurate with the services rendered?
You should incorporate compliance terms and conditions into your contracts with third parties. You must have appropriate compliance terms and conditions in every contract with third parties. I would suggest that you prepare a template, which can be used as a starting point for your negotiations. The advantages of such a template are several; they include: (1) the contract language is tested against real events; (2) the contract language assists the company in managing its compliance risks; (3) the contract language fits into a series of related contracts; (4) the contract language is straight-forward to administer and (5) the contract language helps to manage the expectations of both contracting parties regarding anti-bribery and anti-corruption.
What are the compliance terms and conditions that you should include in your commercial contracts with third parties? In the Panalpina Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA), Attachment C, Section 12 is found the following language, “Where necessary and appropriate, Panalpina will include standard provisions in agreements, contracts, and renewals thereof with all agents and business partners that are reasonably calculated to prevent violations of the anticorruption laws, which may, depending upon the circumstances, include: (a) anticorruption representations and undertakings relating to compliance with the anticorruption laws; (b) rights to conduct audits of the books and records of the agent or business partner to ensure compliance with the foregoing; and (c) rights to terminate an agent or business partner as a result of any breach of anti-corruption laws, and regulations or representations and undertakings related to such matters.” In the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) DPA, the same language as used in the Panalpina DPA is found in Attachment C, entitled “Corporate Compliance Program”. However, in Attachment D, entitled “Enhanced Compliance Obligations”, the following language is found: “Contracts with such third parties are to include appropriate FCPA compliance terms and conditions including; (i) representatives and undertakings of the third party to compliance; (ii) right to audit; and (iii) right to terminate.”
Mary Jones, in an article in this blog entitled “Panalpina’s World Wide Web”, suggested the following language be present in your compliance terms and conditions:
- payment mechanisms that comply with this Manual, the FCPA [Foreign Corrupt Practices Act], the UKBA [UK Bribery Act] and other applicable anti-corruption and/or anti-bribery laws during the term of such contract;
- the counterparty’s obligation to maintain accurate books and records in compliance with the Company’s Policy and Compliance Manual;
- the counterparty’s obligation to certify on an annual basis that: (i) counterparty has not made, offered, or promised any payment or gift of money or anything of value, directly or indirectly, to any Government Official (or any other person or entity if UK Bribery Act applies) for the purpose of obtaining or retaining business or getting any improper business advantage; and (ii) counterparty has not engaged in any conduct or behavior prohibited by the Code of Conduct, Anti-Corruption Policy and Compliance Manual and other applicable anti-corruption and/or anti-bribery law;
- the Company’s right to audit the counterparty’s books and records, including, without limitation, any documentation relating to the counterparty’s interaction with any governmental entity (or any entity if UK Bribery Act applies) on behalf of the Company, and the counterparty’s obligation to cooperate fully with any such audit; and
- remedies (including termination rights) for the failure of the counterparty to comply with the terms of the contract, the Code of Conduct, the Anti-Corruption Policy and Compliance Manual and other applicable anti-corruption and/or anti-bribery law during the term of such contract.
I believe that compliance terms and conditions should be stated directly in the document, whether such document is a simple agency or consulting agreement or a joint venture (JV) with several formation documents. The compliance terms and conditions should include representations that in all undertakings the third party will make no payments of money, or anything of value, nor will such be offered, promised or paid, directly or indirectly, to any foreign officials, political parties, party officials, candidates for public or political party office, to influence the acts of such officials, political parties, party officials, or candidates in their official capacity, to induce them to use their influence with a government to obtain or retain business or gain an improper advantage in connection with any business venture or contract in which the company is a participant.
In addition to the above affirmative statements regarding conduct, a commercial contract with a third party should have the following compliance terms and conditions in it.
- Indemnification: Full indemnification for any FCPA violation, including all costs for the underlying investigation.
- Cooperation: Require full cooperation with any ethics and compliance investigation, specifically including the review of foreign business partner emails and bank accounts relating to your Company’s use of the foreign business partner.
- Material Breach of Contract: Any FCPA violation is made a material breach of contract, with no notice and opportunity to cure. Further, such a finding will be the grounds for immediate cessation of all payments.
- No Sub-Vendors (without approval): The foreign business partner must agree that it will not hire an agent, subcontractor or consultant without the Company’s prior written consent (to be based on adequate due diligence).
- Audit Rights: An additional key element of a contract between a US Company and a foreign business partner should include the retention of audit rights. These audit rights must exceed the simple audit rights associated with the financial relationship between the parties and must allow a full review of all FCPA related compliance procedures such as those for meeting with foreign governmental officials and compliance related training.
- Acknowledgment: The foreign business partner should specifically acknowledge the applicability of the FCPA to the business relationship as well as any country or regional anti-corruption or anti-bribery laws, which apply to either the foreign business partner or business relationship.
- On-going Training: Require that the top management of the foreign business partner and all persons performing services on your behalf shall receive FCPA compliance training.
- Annual Certification: Require an annual certification stating that the foreign business partner has not engaged in any conduct that violates the FCPA or any applicable laws, nor is it aware of any such conduct.
- Re-qualification: Require the foreign business partner re-qualify as a business partner at a regular interval of no greater than every three years.
Many do not believe that they will be able to get the third party to agree to such compliance terms and conditions. I have found that while it may not be easy, it is relatively simply to get a third party to agree to these, or similar, terms and conditions. One approach to take is that they are not negotiable. When faced with such a position on non-commercial terms many third parties will not fight such a position. There is some flexibility but the DOJ will require the minimum compliance terms and conditions. But the best position I have found is that if a third party agrees with these terms and conditions, they can then use that as a market differentiator.
Three Key Takeaways
- There is no set formula for clearing of red flags or the evaluation of due diligence.
- Know when to say enough has been done.
- You must Document Document Document your evaluation of any red flags.
There are certain minimum compliance terms and conditions the DOJ says you should have in every third party contract.Click to tweet
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