Welcome to the Day 2 of a five-day podcast series Jay Rosen and I are producing in honor of the latest Star Wars movie The Last Skywalker. Each day over this week, Jay and I will review a Star Wars movie and discuss it from the compliance perspective. Today, we consider Episode V, The Empire Strikes Back and due diligence.
This movie is my personal favorite of the initial trilogy. During the climactic battle between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, there is the BIG REVEAL where Vadar utters the immortal line, “I AM YOUR FATHER”. In the context of knowing who you are doing business with under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act or UK Bribery Act. I once heard a company President say he did not need to perform due diligence because he looked a man in the eyes and that was enough to know if he was honest. (I should add, this company President also evaluated the strength of a handshake as an additional level of due diligence.) Hopefully we have moved past this level of sophistication for due diligence and its evaluation thereof.
There are three levels of due diligence and you must make a determination which is appropriate for the entity or person you are investigating. If a red flag appears it must be cleared or a risk management strategy articulated to allow moving forward.
First level due diligence typically consists of checking individual names and company names through several hundred Global Watch lists comprised of anti-money laundering (AML), anti-bribery, sanctions lists, coupled with other financial corruption and criminal databases. Level I due diligence addresses such basic issues as whether the third party actually exists, the identities of management, officers, directors and shareholders and whether such persons are on regulators’ watch lists. It can also provide some basic information on whether there are politically exposed persons (PEPs) involved in the third party. Finally, if there are any media reports linking the company to corruption.
Level II due diligence encompasses supplementing Level I due diligence with a deeper screening of international media, typically the major newspapers and periodicals from all countries plus detailed Internet searches. Such inquiries will often reveal other forms of corruption-related information and may expose undisclosed or hidden information about the company, the third party’s key executives and associated parties. Level II can give you information on adverse litigation, any bankruptcy proceedings, overt signs of financial difficulty. More generally it will also provide local online information such as corporate filings, regulatory filings, lawsuits and locally archived materials. You also be able to determine if there were any in-country investigations or sanctions from regulatory entities.
This level is the deep dive. It will require an in-country ‘boots-on-the-ground’ investigation and is designed to supply your company “with a comprehensive analysis of all available public records data supplemented with detailed field intelligence to identify known and more importantly unknown conditions. Seasoned investigators who know the local language and are familiar with local politics bring an extra layer of depth assessment to an in-country investigation.
Now imagine if Luke had performed a more robust level of due diligence on Darth Vadar? Would he have been able to find out Darth Vadar was his father? Perhaps not but then again, we might not have heard that seminal line “I AM YOUR FATHER”.
Join us tomorrow where we consider Return of the Jedi and effective training.