I recently had the chance to sit down with Mikhail Reider-Gordon, Managing Director of Global Affairs at Affiliated Monitors, Inc. (AMI), for a five-part sponsored podcast series. One of the key themes was how Gordon’s teaching compliance and investigations at the International Anti-Corruption Academy inform her view of wide-ranging cultural differences in monitorships.

Gordon is a frequent Guest Lecturer at the International Anti-Corruption Academy, (IACA) having been on the faculty for about five years, teaching investigations and compliance. She also supervises graduate students in writing their thesis. The International Anti-Corruption Academy is an international organization formed by 70 member States, about eight and a half years ago. It is dedicated to enhancing knowledge and education in the field of anti-corruption. It runs graduate level programs and degree programs dedicated to training professionals in combating corruption in all its married forms.

It is headquartered in Luxembourg, Austria, which is  about 20 minutes outside of Vienna. It was the first global institution of its kind, dedicated to overcoming current shortcomings in knowledge and practice in the field of anti-corruption and seeking to empower professionals for the challenges of tomorrow. The IACA offers standardized and tailor-made trainings, academic degree programs, opportunities for dialogue and networking, and anti-corruption think-tank and benchmarking activities. It provides a new, holistic approach to anti-corruption education and research, delivers and facilitates anti-corruption training for practitioners from all sectors of society, and provides technical support and assistance to a wide variety of stakeholders. International cooperation, the sharing of knowledge and experiences, and mutual support are fundamental aspects of IACA’s mandate.

There are students from over 70 countries. It hosts American students, European students and a heavy presence of African students. Many of the student are prosecutors and investigators from developing countries who are looking to expand, their capabilities and technical skills in combating corruption back in their home countries.

Gordon said that from her work at the International Anti-Corruption Academy she has garnered a wider appreciation of the cultural differences that every compliance practitioner and monitor need to be attuned to in monitorship work. She said “that is one of the more enjoyable elements of it. We touch on a lot of cultural differences and we will raise scenarios or questions in the class. We’ll have folks from the Middle East, from Africa, from China, from Indonesia, India, Western European countries, from Brazil, from the US, from Canada, basically from across the globe. This leads to a wide range of opinions.”

She went on relate that cultural impact considerations are “always a lively debate. We talk about the differences it can make in planning an individual investigation, particularly when it’s got cross border aspects, cross cultural aspects, the design of a compliance program and , how that can be heavily impacted by culture.” This discussion can “extend to tribalism or socioeconomic groups and how that may impact people’s willingness to a whistle blow within an entity.” We can consider what “controls are acceptable and ethical in one country but may not be deemed in so in another country or seen in the same light in another; such as the idea of gift-giving as standard. So, we discuss those at length.”

We turned to the ever-evolving technological aspects of compliance data analysis and how  new technologies have an impact on building and operating an entity wide compliance program. Gordon noted that “this is one of my favorite parts of the program that I teach. It is because not everybody really is focused on technology necessarily. We start with some exercises where we look at the different data privacy laws and cross border data transfer laws. And it never fails. People are just blown away to discover even in their own country’s laws or lack of them.” Our discussion on investigations can go into how an investigator might handle employee privacy and an employee’s personal identifying information.

Another area open for consideration is “how that impacts the creation when you’re structuring a compliance program that has to take in multiple jurisdictions, competing laws or laws that really conflict with one another, all predicated on the jurisdiction.” For Gordon, one of the “best parts of teaching that is of course, is that it evolves literally constantly. This means every year “I have to redesign part of that curriculum to adjust for all the legal developments that have gone on around the world and in the types of technology which every compliance practitioner must use.”

Gordon concluded that all of these discussions generates a lively debate. She has students of varying levels of sophistication considering how do you work through these issues if you do not have an evolved compliance program or you do not have sophisticated technology to aid in this. All of this certainly confirms what I have learned in many years as a blogger and podcaster; that compliance professionals can and do bring a lot of their own knowledge with them. By teaching at the International Anti-Corruption Academy, Gordon is able to learn back from her students  because they have a wealth of their own knowledge and “if you get them in a room together and there’s really a lot of value out of it.”

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© Thomas R. Fox, 2019