Ken JohnsonBefore Jim Crane came along to purchase the Houston Astros and provide us all with some of the best lessons learned for the compliance practitioner, they had a long and storied history, even if part of that history included not achieving much in the way of success. After all it took the Astros 50 years to reach the World Series (reach – not win). Before they had that inglorious run, they were known as the Houston Colt 45s and they were even more sad sack than after they re-moninkered themselves as the Astros.

In the Pantheon of baseball achievements one Houston Colt 45 stands above all. It is Ken Johnson, who died earlier this week. Johnson’s achievement – he is the only pitcher in the long and storied history of baseball, who pitched a complete game no-hitter and lost. In a game against the Cincinnati Reds, on April 23, 1964, with one out in the 9th inning, Johnson fielded a bunt by Pete Rose and threw wildly to first, allowing Rose to reach second. Rose scored two batters later on an error by second baseman Nellie Fox. The Reds won the game 1-0.

I thought about hard luck Ken Johnson in the context of the continued difficulty companies face around liability for third parties under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). There are two areas that do not get as much attention that I wanted to focus on today. The first is the Questionnaire you utilize to help in the evaluation of any third party and the second is the compliance terms and conditions you should include in any commercial agreement with third parties.

Below are some of the areas that I think you should inquire into through your Questionnaire to a proposed third party:

  • Ownership Structure: Describe whether the proposed third party is a government or state-owned entity, and the nature of its relationship(s) with local, regional and governmental bodies. Are there any members of the business partner related, by blood, to governmental officials?
  • Financial Qualifications: Describe the financial stability of, and all capital to be provided by, the proposed third party. You should obtain financial records, audited for 3 to 5 years, if available. Obtain the name and contact information for their banking relationship.
  • Personnel: Determine whether the proposed agent will be providing personnel, particularly whether any of the employees are government officials. Make sure that you obtain the names and titles of those who will provide services to your company.
  • Physical Facilities: Describe what physical facilities that will be used by the third party for your work. Be sure and obtain their physical address.
  • References: Obtain names and contact information for at least three business references that can provide information on the business ethics and commercial reliability of the proposed third party.
  • PEPs: Are any of the owners, beneficial owners, officers or directors politically exposed persons (PEPs).
  • UBO: It is imperative that you obtain the identity of the Ultimate Beneficial Owner (UBO).
  • Compliance Regime: Does the proposed third party have an anti-corruption/anti-bribery program in place? Do they have a Code of Conduct? Obtain copies of all relevant documents and training materials.
  • FCPA Training and Awareness: Has the proposed third party received FCPA training, are they TRACE certified or certified by some other recognizable entity?

One thing that you should keep in mind is that you will likely have pushback from your business team in making many of the inquiries listed above. However, my experience is that most proposed agents that have done business with US or UK companies have already gone through this process. Indeed, they understand that by providing this information on a timely basis, they can set themselves apart as more attractive to US businesses.

The questionnaire fills several key roles in your overall management of third parties. Obviously it provides key information that you need to know about who you are doing business with and whether they have the capabilities to fulfill your commercial needs. Just as importantly is what is said if the questionnaire is not completed or is only partially completed, such as the lack of awareness of the FCPA, UK Bribery Act or anti-corruption/anti-bribery programs generally. Lastly, the information provided (or not provided) in the questionnaire will assist you in determining what level of due diligence to perform.

Similarly, compliance terms and conditions should be in every contract, 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 will exclaim, “What an order, I can’t go through with it.” By this they mean that they 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 simple 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 Department of Justice (DOJ) will require the minimum terms and conditions that it has suggested in the various Attachment Cs to the Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) and in the FCPA Guidance. 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 from other third parties who have not gone through the life cycle management of a third party.

Two of the under-utilized tools of third party risk management are the third party questionnaire and compliance terms and conditions. By using these relatively simple and straightforward techniques you can help avoid the hard-luck nature of Ken Johnson and losing the game when you pitch a no-hitter.

A Happy Thanksgiving to all.

This publication contains general information only and is based on the experiences and research of the author. The author is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, legal advice, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such legal advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified legal advisor. The author, his affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person or entity that relies on this publication. The Author gives his permission to link, post, distribute, or reference this article for any lawful purpose, provided attribution is made to the author. The author can be reached at

© Thomas R. Fox, 2015

Third BirthdayYesterday the FCPA Professor reminded us that the joint Department of Justice (DOJ) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) FCPA Guidance came out three years ago this month. As a commentator focusing the doing of compliance, I think it should give us pause to once again thank the government regulators and prosecutors who had a part in drafting this most remarkable of documents. I submit it is the best government generated source regarding what constituted at the time (and probably still does) a best practices compliance program. So for anyone interested in exploring the lessons learned about Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) compliance programs and what the government expects to see, the FCPA Guidance is the best document you can review.

As a ‘Nuts and Bolts’ guy I found the DOJ/SEC formulation of their thoughts on what might constitute a best practices compliance program, denominated the “Ten Hallmarks of an Effective Compliance Program”, as the most useful part of the FCPA Guidance. While the Guidance cautions that there is no “one-size-fits-all” compliance program, it recognizes a variety of factors such as size, type of business, industry and risk profile a company should determine for its own needs regarding a FCPA compliance program. But the Guidance made clear that these ten points are “meant to provide insight into the aspects of compliance programs that DOJ and SEC assess”. In other words you should pay attention to these and use this information to assess your own compliance regime.

  1. Commitment from Senior Management and a Clearly Articulated Policy Against Corruption. It all starts with tone at the top. But more than simply ‘talk-the-talk’ company leadership must ‘walk-the-walk’ and lead by example. Both the DOJ and SEC look to see if a company has a “culture of compliance”. More than a paper program is required, it must have real teeth and it must be put into action, all of which is led by senior management. The Guidance states, “A strong ethical culture directly supports a strong compliance program. By adhering to ethical standards, senior managers will inspire middle managers to reinforce those standards.” This prong ends by stating that the DOJ and SEC will “evaluate whether senior management has clearly articulated company standards, communicated them in unambiguous terms, adhered to them scrupulously, and disseminated them throughout the organization.”
  2. Code of Conduct and Compliance Policies and Procedures. The Code of Conduct has long been seen as the foundation of a company’s overall compliance program and the Guidance acknowledges this fact. But a Code of Conduct and a company’s compliance policies need to be clear and concise. Importantly, the Guidance made clear that if a company has a large employee base that is not fluent in English such documents need to be translated into the native language of those employees. A company also needs to have appropriate internal controls based upon the risks that a company has assessed for its business model.
  3. Oversight, Autonomy, and Resources. This section begins with a discussion on the assignment of a senior level executive to oversee and implement a company’s compliance program. Equally importantly, the compliance function must have “sufficient resources to ensure that the company’s compliance program is implemented effectively.” Finally, the compliance function should report to the company’s Board of Directors or an appropriate committee of the Board such as the Audit Committee. Overall, the DOJ and SEC will “consider whether the company devoted adequate staffing and resources to the compliance program given the size, structure, and risk profile of the business.”
  4. Risk Assessment. The Guidance states, “assessment of risk is fundamental to developing a strong compliance program”. Indeed, if there is one over-riding theme in the Guidance it is that a company should assess its risks in all areas of its business. The Guidance is also quite clear that when the DOJ and SEC look at a company’s overall compliance program, they “take into account whether and to what degree a company analyzes and addresses the particular risks it faces.” The Guidance lists factors that a company should consider in any risk assessment. They are “the country and industry sector, the business opportunity, potential business partners, level of involvement with governments, amount of government regulation and oversight, and exposure to customs and immigration in conducting business affairs.”
  5. Training and Continuing Advice. Communication of a compliance program is a cornerstone of any anti-corruption compliance program. The Guidance specifies that both the “DOJ and SEC will evaluate whether a company has taken steps to ensure that relevant policies and procedures have been communicated throughout the organization, including through periodic training and certification for all directors, officers, relevant employees, and, where appropriate, agents and business partners.” The training should be risk based so that those high-risk employees and third party business partners receive an appropriate level of training. A company should also devote appropriate resources to providing its employees with guidance and advice on how to comply with their own compliance program on an ongoing basis.
  6. Incentives and Disciplinary Measures. Initially the Guidance notes that a company’s compliance program should apply from “the board room to the supply room – no one should be beyond its reach.” There should be appropriate discipline in place and administered for any violation of the FCPA or a company’s compliance program. Additionally, the “DOJ and SEC recognize that positive incentives can also drive compliant behavior. These incentives can take many forms such as personnel evaluations and promotions, rewards for improving and developing a company’s compliance program, and rewards for ethics and compliance leadership.”
  7. Third-Party Due Diligence and Payments. The Guidance says that companies must engage in risk based due diligence to understand the “qualifications and associations of its third-party partners, including its business reputation, and relationship, if any, with foreign officials.” Next a company should articulate a business rationale for the use of the third party. This would include an evaluation of the payment arrangement to ascertain that the compensation is reasonable and will not be used as a basis for corrupt payments. Lastly, there should be ongoing monitoring of third parties.
  8. Confidential Reporting and Internal Investigation. This means more than simply a hotline. The Guidance suggests that anonymous reporting, and perhaps even a company ombudsman, might be appropriate to have in place for employees to report allegations of corruption or violations of the FCPA. Furthermore, it is just as important what a company does after an allegation is made. The Guidance states, “once an allegation is made, companies should have in place an efficient, reliable, and properly funded process for investigating the allegation and documenting the company’s response, including any disciplinary or remediation measures taken.” The final message is what did you learn from the allegation and investigation and did you apply it in your company?
  9. Continuous Improvement: Periodic Testing and Review. As noted in the Guidance, “compliance programs that do not just exist on paper but are followed in practice will inevitably uncover compliance weaknesses and require enhancements. Consequently, DOJ and SEC evaluate whether companies regularly review and improve their compliance programs and not allow them to become stale.” The DOJ/SEC expects that a company will review and test its compliance controls and “think critically” about its own weaknesses and risk areas. Internal controls should also be periodically tested through targeted audits.
  1. Mergers and Acquisitions.Pre-Acquisition Due Diligence and Post-Acquisition Integration.Here the DOJ and SEC spell out their expectations in not only the post-acquisition integration phase but also in the pre-acquisition phase. This pre-acquisition information was not something on which most companies had previously focused. A company should attempt to perform as much substantive compliance due diligence that it can do before it purchases a company. After the deal is closed, an acquiring entity needs to perform a FCPA audit, train all senior management and risk employees in the purchased company and integrate the acquired entity into its compliance regime.

What is the significance of these Ten Hallmarks today? Last week, Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell laid out the metrics under which the DOJ’s new Compliance Counsel would evaluate a company’s compliance program. They are still working off these Ten Hallmarks. Then yesterday, Caldwell laid out the three key factors that a company must sustain to hope for a Declination. (I will explore all three points in full in a further blog post). Point three was the remediation steps that a company takes during the pendency of the investigation. Obviously, taking disciplinary action against the culpable individuals is a critical component but I also believe that upgrading the part of your compliance regime which may have caused, contributed to or allowed the compliance failure to occur, must be remediated. This is where the Ten Hallmarks can provide you solid advice on what you should do going forward.

While others have leveled a variety of criticism about the FCPA Guidance, I think they miss the essential point that for the compliance practitioner, it is an excellent resource about doing compliance. So here’s to the Guidance at the ripe of age of 3. Thanks for coming into all of our (compliance) lives.

This publication contains general information only and is based on the experiences and research of the author. The author is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, legal advice, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such legal advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified legal advisor. The author, his affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person or entity that relies on this publication. The Author gives his permission to link, post, distribute, or reference this article for any lawful purpose, provided attribution is made to the author. The author can be reached at

© Thomas R. Fox, 2015

IMG_3310Today, I conclude my exploration of the new Department of Justice (DOJ) Compliance Counsel and the metrics laid out by Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell who called for her review of compliance programs. The metrics for today’s consideration are around the source of the greatest risk under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA); that being third parties. The metrics laid about by Caldwell are as follows:

  • Does the institution sensitize third parties like vendors, agents or consultants to the company’s expectation that its partners are also serious about compliance?

Management of a Third Party Relationship

Recognizing that most Chief Compliance Officers (CCOs) and compliance practitioners understand the need for a business justification, questionnaire, due diligence and compliance terms and conditions in a contract, I was gratified to see the DOJ focusing on the final step in the lifecycle of a third party relationship as a key metric for its new Compliance Counsel to evaluate. This is because it is the managment of third party relationships that continues to be a source of trouble and heartburn for many companies. As Caldwell noted in her remarks, the management of a third party relationship, “means more than including boilerplate language in a contract. It means taking action – including termination of a business relationship – if a partner demonstrates a lack of respect for laws and policies. And that attitude toward partner compliance must exist regardless of geographic location.”

While the FCPA Guidance itself only provides that “companies should undertake some form of ongoing monitoring of third-party relationships”. Diana Lutz, writing in the White Paper by The Steele Foundation entitled “Global anti-corruption and anti-bribery program best practices”, has noted, “As an additional means of prevention and detection of wrongdoing, an experienced compliance and audit team must be actively engaged in home office and field activities to ensure that financial controls and policy provisions are routinely complied with and that remedial measures for violations or gaps are tracked, implemented and rechecked.” But as Caldwell noted it is a more encompassing “sensitization” to anti-corruption compliance that is needed. There are several ways for you to do so.

 Relationship Manager for Third Parties

I believe that as a starting point for the management of a third party, your company should have a Relationship Manager for every third party with which your company does business. The Relationship Manager should be a business unit employee who is responsible for monitoring, maintaining and continuously evaluating the relationship between your company and the third party. Some of the duties of the Relationship Manager may include:

  • Point of contact with the Third Party for all compliance issues;
  • Maintaining periodic contact with the Third Party;
  • Meeting annually with the Third Party to review its satisfaction of all company compliance obligations;
  • Submitting annual reports to the company’s Oversight Committee summarizing services provided by the Third Party;
  • Assisting the company’s Oversight Committee with any issues with respect to the Third Party.

Compliance Professional

Just as a company needs a subject matter expert (SME) in anti-bribery compliance to be able to work with the business folks and answer the usual questions that come up in the day-to-day routine of doing business internationally, third parties also need such access. A third party may not be large enough to have its own compliance staff so I advocate a company providing such a dedicated resource to third parties. I do not believe that this will create a conflict of interest or that there are other legal impediments to providing such services. They can also include anti-corruption training for the third party, either through onsite or remote mechanisms. The compliance practitioner should work closely with the Relationship Manager to provide advice, training and communications to the third party.

 Oversight Committee

I advocate that a company should have an Oversight Committee review all documents relating to the full panoply of a third party’s relationship with the company. It can be a formal structure or some other type of group but the key is to have the senior management put a ‘second set of eyes’ on any third parties who might represent a company in the sales side. In addition to the basic concept of process validation of your management of third parties, as third parties are recognized as the highest risk in FCPA or Bribery Act compliance, this is a manner to deliver additional management of that risk.

After the commercial relationship has begun the Oversight Committee should monitor the third party relationship on no less than an annual basis. This annual audit should include a review of remedial due diligence investigations and evaluation of any new or supplemental risk associated with any negative information discovered from a review of financial audit reports on the third party. The Oversight Committee should review any reports of any material breach of contract including any breach of the requirements of the Company Code of Ethics and Compliance. In addition to the above remedial review, the Oversight Committee should review all payments requested by the third party to assure such payment is within the company guidelines and is warranted by the contractual relationship with the third party. Lastly, the Oversight Committee should review any request to provide the third party any type of non-monetary compensation and, as appropriate, approve such requests.


A key tool in managing the affiliation with a third party post-contract execution is auditing. Audit rights are a key clause in any compliance terms and conditions and must be secured. Your compliance audit should be a systematic, independent and documented process for obtaining evidence and evaluating it objectively to determine the extent to which your compliance terms and conditions are followed. Noted fraud examiner expert Tracy Coenen described the process as (1) capture the data; (2) analyze the data; and (3) report on the data, which is also appropriate for a compliance audit. As a baseline I would suggest that any audit of a third party include, at a minimum, a review of the following:

  1. the effectiveness of existing compliance programs and codes of conduct;
  2. the origin and legitimacy of any funds paid to Company;
  3. books, records and accounts, or those of any of its subsidiaries, joint ventures or affiliates, related to work performed for, or services or equipment provided to, Company;
  4. all disbursements made for or on behalf of Company; and
  5. all funds received from Company in connection with work performed for, or services or equipment provided to, Company.

If you want to engage in a deeper dive you might consider evaluation of some of the following areas:

  • Review of contracts with third parties to confirm that the appropriate FCPA compliance terms and conditions are in place.
  • Determine that actual due diligence took place on the third party.
  • Review FCPA compliance training program; both the substance of the program and attendance records.
  • Does the third party have a hotline or any other reporting mechanism for allegations of compliance violations? If so how are such reports maintained? Review any reports of compliance violations or issues that arose through anonymous reporting, hotline or any other reporting mechanism.
  • Does the third party have written employee discipline procedures? If so have any employees been disciplined for any compliance violations? If yes review all relevant files relating to any such violations to determine the process used and the outcome reached.
  • Review employee expense reports for employees in high-risk positions or high-risk countries.
  • Testing for gifts, travel and entertainment that were provided to, or for, foreign governmental officials.
  • Review the overall structure of the third party’s compliance program. If the company has a designated compliance officer to whom, and how, does that compliance officer report?
  • How is the third party’s compliance program designed to identify risks and what has been the result of any so identified?
  • Review a sample of employee commission payments and determine if they follow the internal policy and procedure of the third party.
  • With regard to any petty cash activity in foreign locations, review a sample of activity and apply analytical procedures and testing. Analyze the general ledger for high-risk transactions and cash advances and apply analytical procedures and testing.

Tying it all Together

In addition to monitoring and oversight of your third parties, you should periodically review the health of your third party management program. Diana Lutz and her colleague Marjorie Doyle, in an article entitled “Third Party Essentials: A Reputation/Liability Checkup When Using Third Parties Globally”, gave a checklist to test companies on their relationships with their third parties, which is as follows:

  1. Do you have a list or database of all your third parties and their information?
  2. Have you done a risk assessment of your third parties and prioritized them by level of risk?
  3. Do you have a due diligence process for the selection of third parties, based on the risk assessment?
  4. Once the risk categories have been determined, create a written due diligence process.
  5. Once the third party has been selected based on the due diligence process, do you have a contract with the third party stating all the expectations?
  6. Is there someone in your organization who is responsible for the management of each of your third parties?
  7. What are “red flags” regarding a third party?

The robustness of your third party management program will go a long way towards preventing, detecting and remediating any compliance issue before it becomes a full-blown FCPA violation. As with all the steps laid out in this series, you need to fully document all steps you have taken so that any regulator, and specifically the DOJ Compliance Counsel, can test your metrics. Caldwell’s remarks around the metrics reviewed in this series may not have been anything new but she has laid out what the new Compliance Counsel will be reviewing and evaluating so you understand what will be expected from your company’s compliance program. You should also use these metrics to conduct a self-assessment on the state of your compliance program.

Caldwell’s short mention of managing third parties is one of the most important metrics of any best practices FCPA compliance program.

This publication contains general information only and is based on the experiences and research of the author. The author is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, legal advice, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such legal advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified legal advisor. The author, his affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person or entity that relies on this publication. The Author gives his permission to link, post, distribute, or reference this article for any lawful purpose, provided attribution is made to the author. The author can be reached at


© Thomas R. Fox, 2015

7K0A0223Today, we continue our exploration of the new Department of Justice (DOJ) Compliance Counsel and the metrics laid out by Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell who called for her review of compliance programs. These metrics for today’s consideration are:

  • Does the institution review its policies and practices to keep them up to date with evolving risks and circumstances? This is especially important if a U.S.-based entity acquires or merges with another business, especially a foreign one.
  • Are there mechanisms to enforce compliance policies? Those include both incentivizing good compliance and disciplining violations.

I think most compliance practitioners understand how a risk assessment fits into the design and creation of a compliance program. Yet Caldwell’s remarks drive home that risk assessments are not a one-time exercise and while she did not remark on the frequency of how often they should be performed, I think the more often the better. However, as a Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) or compliance practitioner, you do not need to perform a full forensic risk assessment to meet the metrics Caldwell has articulated.

Nonetheless, if there is one thing that I learned as a lawyer, which also applies to the compliance field, it is that you are only limited by your imagination and the same is true for risk assessments. You might try assessing other areas annually, through a more limited focused risk assessment, literally while staying at your desk and not traveling away from your corporate headquarters.

Some of the areas that such a Desktop Risk Assessment could inquire into might be the following:

  • How are the risks in the C-Suite and the Boardroom being addressed?
  • What are the FCPA risks related to the supply chain?
  • How is risk being examined and due diligence performed at the vendor/agent level? How is such risk being managed?
  • Is the documentation adequate to support the program for regulatory purposes?
  • Is culture, attitude (tone from the top), and knowledge measured? If yes, can we use the information enhance the program?
  • Disciplinary guidelines – Do they exist and has anyone been terminated or disciplined for a violating policy?
  • Communication of information and findings – Are escalation protocols appropriate?
  • What are the opportunities to improve compliance?

There are a variety of materials that you can review from or at a company that can facilitate such a Desktop Risk Assessment. You can review your company’s policies and written guidelines by reviewing anti-corruption compliance policies, guidelines, and procedures to ensure that compliance programs are tailored to address specific risks such as gifts, hospitality and entertainment, travel, political and charitable donations, and promotional activities.

Caldwell’s second metric, that we are also exploring today, is around compliance discipline and incentives. In her remarks Caldwell further inquired, “Is discipline even handed?” and then went on to add, “The department does not look favorably on situations in which low-level employees who may have engaged in misconduct are terminated, but the more senior people who either directed or deliberately turned a blind eye to the conduct suffer no consequences. Such action sends the wrong message – to other employees, to the market and to the government – about the institution’s commitment to compliance.”

I think most folks understand the need to discipline employees who may have violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) or otherwise engaged in bribery and corruption. However, many CCOs and compliance practitioners do not focus as much attention to compliance incentives. I have developed six core principles for incentives, adapted from an article in the Spring 2014 issue of the MIT Sloan Management Review entitled “Combining Purpose with Profits”, and reformulated them for the compliance function in an anti-corruption compliance program.

  • Compliance incentives don’t have to be elaborate or novel. The first point is that there are only a limited number of compliance incentives that a company can meaningfully target. Evidence suggests the successful companies are the ones that were able to translate pedestrian-sounding compliance incentive goals into consistent and committed action.
  • Compliance incentives need supporting systems if they are to stick. People take cues from those around them, but people are fickle and easily confused, and gain and hedonic goals can quickly drive out compliance incentives. This means that you will need to construct a compliance function that provides a support system to help them operationalize their pro-incentives at different levels, and thereby make them stick. The specific systems which support incentives can be created specifically to your company but the key point is that they are delivered consistently because it signals that management is sincere.
  • Support systems are needed to reinforce compliance incentives. One important form of a supporting system for compliance incentives is to make the incentives visible. As stated in the FCPA Guidance, “Beyond financial incentives, some companies have highlighted compliance within their organizations by recognizing compliance professionals and internal audit staff. Others have made working in the company’s compliance organization a way to advance an employee’s career.”
  • Compliance incentives need a “counterweight” to endure. Goal-framing theory shows how easy it is for compliance incentives to be driven out by gain or hedonic goals, so even with the types of supporting systems it is quite common to see executives bowing to short-term financial pressures. Thus, a key factor in creating enduring compliance incentives is a “counterweight”, that is any institutional mechanism that exists to enforce a continued focus on a nonfinancial goal. This means that in any financial downturn compliance incentives are not the first thing that gets thrown out the window and if my oft-cited hypothetical foreign Regional Manager misses his numbers for two quarters, he does not get fired. So the key is that the counterweight has real influence; it must hold the leader to account.
  • Compliance incentive alignment works in an oblique, not linear, way. If you want your employees to align around compliance incentives, your company will have to “eschew narrow, linear thinking, and instead provide more scope for them to choose their own oblique pathway.” This means emphasizing compliance as part of your company’s DNA on a consistent basis — “the intention being that by encouraging individuals to do “good,” their collective effort leads, seemingly as a side-effect, to better financial results. The logic of “[compliance first], profitability second” needs to find its way deeply into the collective psyche of the company.”
  • Compliance incentive initiatives can be implemented at all levels. Who at your company is responsible for pursuing compliance incentives? If you head up a division or business unit, it is clearly your job to define what your pro-social goals are and to put in place the supporting structures and systems described here. But what if you are lower in the corporate hierarchy? It is tempting to think this is “someone else’s problem,” but actually there is no reason why you cannot follow your own version of the same process.

Obviously this list is not exhaustive. Yet it is now more important than ever that you demonstrate tangible incentives for your employees to gain benefits, both financial and hierarchical, thorough doing business ethically, in compliance with your own Code of Conduct and most certainly in compliance with the FCPA. It is also a requirement that such actions must be documented so they can be demonstrated to the DOJ Compliance Counsel if they come knocking and look to employ the metrics which Caldwell has laid out for us all.

Ongoing risks assessments and incentivizing your compliance program are two of the most under-used tools to move forward your compliance regime.

This publication contains general information only and is based on the experiences and research of the author. The author is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, legal advice, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such legal advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified legal advisor. The author, his affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person or entity that relies on this publication. The Author gives his permission to link, post, distribute, or reference this article for any lawful purpose, provided attribution is made to the author. The author can be reached at


© Thomas R. Fox, 2015

Tipping Point 3I continue my series on why I believe that compliance is at the ‘Tipping Point’ with a discussion of the Volkswagen (VW) emissions-testing scandal and its effect on the greater compliance world. Myself and many other commentators have written about the VW scandal from a variety of angles, which I will not repeat here, except to note that the VW emissions-testing scandal was not a failure of the company’s compliance program but an intentional fraud to evade emissions testing standards for a wide variety of jurisdictions, including the United States. The cost of this fraud cannot begin to be estimated at this point but VW has already lost 40% of its market cap or approximately €15 billion.

VW is now beginning its internal investigation and not surprisingly, it claims to be focusing on a small group of ‘rogue’ engineers who acted outside the knowledge of senior management. Not too surprising folks with their heads on the line would make such a claim. Perhaps that speaks to the true culture of the company. However the reason I think that the VW emissions-testing scandal is data point 3 in the tipping point for compliance goes beyond the company engaging in an intentional fraud and then trying to blame it on the engineers.

Even the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) labeled VW actions as “a scam”. Yet as usually the Financial Times (FT), with a masthead of “Without fear and without favour” was even starker when it stated in its lead editorial of September 26th, entitled “Volkswagen’s deception tarnishes big business”, that “The company has damaged its industry and other large corporations”. It went on to state that the VW scandal is “a corporate debacle as great as the collapse of Enron, BP’s oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico and numerous recent banking scandals.” The opinion went on to state, “large companies, such as VW, face a loss of trust.”

In another FT article on the same day in The Top Line column by Companies editor Brooke Masters, entitled “Don’t forget the real losers in all of this fraud – us”, said “Shareholders and customers are the obvious victims of the current flood of bad news.” She also pointed out another set of victims “the employees and shareholders of the companies that try to play fair.” Just as Enron and WorldCom, which were considered to be model companies, were simply massive accounting frauds; the VW scandal may well show that it could not compete on a level playing field.

Further, as large as the scandals cited in both FT articles; Enron, BP, WorldCom and all the others, they did not affect the national brand. No one thought less of US companies because of the Enron and WorldCom scandals or was the UK corporate perception demeaned by the BP disaster, or even the ongoing LIBOR trials in the UK. However the VW scandal has impacted the German auto industry by calling into question the emissions readings of other German manufactured diesel cars not directly connected to VW. Worse yet, the entire German brand of quality and honesty has now been called into question. For if the auto company with the world’s largest sales of autos will intentionally cheat, what else might be going on with other German companies?

It is the last issue that I think makes the VW emissions-testing scandal different than any other previous scandal – it has damaged the German national brand. This may well mean a very aggressive response from the German government in the form of additional regulations and aggressive prosecutions. You can bet your bottom dollar that the US government will have a very aggressive response, in the form of civil penalties against the company under the Clean Air Act and potential individual criminal liabilities, particularly after the hew and cry directed at the US Department of Justice’s (DOJ) lack of individual prosecutions in the General Motors (GM) ignition switch scandal, which according to Master “caused or contributed to 124 deaths in car crashes.”

Even with these potential government responses, I think the VW emissions-testing scandal will be more impactful for the compliance practitioner for a larger reason. As set out in the FCPA Guidance, the reason for an effective compliance program is to prevent, detect and remedy compliance violations. An effective compliance program is the surest way to manage compliance risks for a company. Failures in compliance can lead to fines and penalties and reputational damage to a company. Under the FCPA, corporate third party representatives can lead to liability so companies have responded by managing that risk in a third party management system. Many companies now require any other entity with which they do business to have a compliance program in place.

Yet the VW scandal is so great, broad, wide and all encompassing that VW’s competitors, for example Mercedes and BMW, have been dragged into it. In other words, these competitors have seen their brands damaged by the VW emissions-testing scandal. This is new territory for many companies. Previously company risk management systems had been designed to protect or prevent a company’s own risk profile. Going forward companies may well have to worry about their competitors’ risk profiles as well.

How can a company protect itself or even respond if a competitor engages in conduct so bad that it damages an entire industry brand? I think the only way is to have an effective compliance program in place. This would also require transparency in compliance throughout the organization. So just as the new DOJ standards as set out in the Yates Memo and scrutiny from the DOJ’s Compliance Counsel will put additional pressure on Chief Compliance Officers (CCOs) and compliance programs; I think that the long-term effect of the VW emissions-testing scandal will be to put greater pressure on compliance programs to do the three things such programs are designed to do; prevent, detect and remedy.

In connection with the DOJ’s new compliance counsel, Stephen Martin said the following, “For companies, the “return on investment” is clear…the benefits of an effective compliance program far outweigh the costs of the program and help mitigate government enforcement and compliance related risks. For compliance professionals, the DOJ’s increasing focus provides the rationale for helping companies truly move to instituting and maintaining a practical, best practices compliance program that meets the rising expectations of the DOJ.” I believe this is even more so after the VW emissions-testing scandal and I would add the rising expectation of the public the companies stop trying to cheat their way to the top. Cheating to win in business does not enhance shareholder value in the end. Moreover, it is through having a robust compliance program in place and being able to demonstrate [Document Document Document] the results to regulators or other interested parties, that companies will be able to protect their reputations going forward from their competitors miss-steps; intentional or unintentional.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the next data point in Compliance at the Tipping Point.

This publication contains general information only and is based on the experiences and research of the author. The author is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, legal advice, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such legal advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified legal advisor. The author, his affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person or entity that relies on this publication. The Author gives his permission to link, post, distribute, or reference this article for any lawful purpose, provided attribution is made to the author. The author can be reached at

© Thomas R. Fox, 2015