What are the obligations of a Board member regarding the FCPA? Are the obligations of the Compliance Committee under the FCPA at odds with a director’s “prudent discharge of duties to shareholders”? Do the words prudent discharge even appear anywhere in the FCPA? In the the case of Stone v. Ritter is found the proposition that “a duty to attempt in good faith to assure that a corporate information and reporting system, which the board concludes is adequate exists.” From the case of In re Walt Disney Company Derivative Litigation, she drew the principle that directors should follow the best practices in the area of ethics and compliance. The Board has the role of monitoring the performance of the compliance function, including monitoring the performance of it using customary economic metrics, and by overseeing compliance with applicable laws and regulations. While the Board is not responsible for auditing or ferreting out compliance problems, it is responsible for determining that the company has an appropriate system of internal controls. The Board should also monitor company policies and practices that address compliance and matters affecting the public perception and reputation of the company. Every company should ensure that it conducts appropriate compliance training for employees and conducts regular compliance assessments. Finally, the Board must take appropriate action if and when it becomes aware of a material problem that it believes management is not properly handling.
There is no reference to prudent discharge in the FCPA itself. However, a Board member might well think more than twice about the prudent discharge of duties to the shareholders as both the DOJ and SEC now might well wish to look into a Board’s prudent discharge of duties under the FCPA.
Three key takeaways:
- What is prudent discharge?
- What is your process for doing compliance at the Board level?
- A Board must have active rather than passive engagement around compliance.
This month’s sponsor is Affiliated Monitors, Inc.