BoardAndFraud

Fraud Pentagon – Enhancements to the Three Conditions Under Which Fraud May Occur

Today’s fraudster is clever and operates in an environment ripe for criminal activity. Economic unrest is making it easier for employees to find ways to set fraud in motion – and a new breed of offenders is finding cunning ways to do so. After more than 60 years, the classic fraud triangle of three elements or events that motivate an employee to cross the line has morphed into the Fraud Pentagon.

Company boards and senior management must take an offensive stance against the five conditions that precipitate fraud with a clear plan that limits the opportunity for fraud and minimizes the impact when fraud does occur.

Board Overconfidence: An Often Unrecognized Risk

Directors on corporate boards are – almost by definition – men and women who are accomplished and successful. So it is only natural that most board members also are highly self-assured and confident in their judgment and abilities.

When that self-confidence is misplaced or overstated, however, the consequences can be costly. This is particularly true when overconfidence causes board members to underestimate or overlook the risks associated with fraud or management incompetence. Moreover, when board overconfidence is compounded by management overconfidence, the risks can multiply quickly.

Once the dangers of overconfidence are understood and appreciated, board and management teams alike can begin taking proactive steps to mitigate the risks. Knowing the warning signs of board overconfidence is an essential first step.

e-Guide for Chief Compliance Officers

This e-book is intended as a guide for Chief Compliance Officers (CCOs) and those responsible for developing and implementing compliance policies and procedures for an organization. Compliance, when done properly and embraced fully, should be seen as a necessary business process. It is our vision that companies have more than a best-in-class compliance program going forward.
The time is now for companies to take the next step up to make compliance a part of the business process of the organization. This would not only allow companies to meet the Department of Justice’s requirement that compliance programs be more fully operationalized, but it is our firm belief that a more effective compliance program will make the company’s internal controls operate more efficiently and enable it to operate more profitably. With the increased efficiencies for compliance offered by data analytics and AI, a robust compliance program can demonstrate internal commercial inefficiencies which can be remediated for greater return from assets.

Board of Directors Oversight

Under the U.S. Federal Sentencing Guidelines, in order to receive credit for having an effective compliance program, and thereby reduce the fines imposed on the organization, a Board of Directors must be “knowledgeable about the content and operation of the compliance and ethics program,” and must “exercise reasonable oversight with respect to the implementation and effectiveness of the compliance and ethics program.”

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Herbalife – “Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes” – Translated: Who Will Guard the Guards Themselves, or Who will Watch the Watchmen?

Herbalife’s business relationship in China was committed to illegal activity, which it knew or should have known violated the FCPA. Specifically,  beginning in late 2006, Herbalife China provided improper benefits and payments to government officials to obtain direct selling licenses for two cities.
Herbalife paid out millions of dollars in bribes. Fraudulent expense reimbursements were used to fund the bribes, which is is a common tactic for these types of bribes.

Specifically, the SEC found that Herbalife China paid bribes through extravagant meals, gifts, and other benefits given to Chinese officials to obtain sales licenses and remove negative media coverage in China. Managers at the subsidiary asked employees to falsify expense report documents, for example, adding names to meal receipts to get below the company’s per head spending limit. It also found that the payments and benefits were inaccurately recorded and that Herbalife failed to maintain a sound system of internal controls.

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SEC and its New Silent Whistleblower: Risk Based Data Analytics

The SEC just announced its first actions arising from investigations generated by the Enforcement Division’s EPS (Earnings Per Share) Initiative, which utilizes risk-based data analytics to uncover potential accounting and disclosure violations caused by, among other things, earnings management practices.

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Donut Holes! Dunkin’ Data Breach Settlement

Dunkin’ was repeatedly alerted to attackers’ ongoing attempts to log in to customer accounts by a third-party app developer. The app developer even provided Dunkin’ with a list of nearly 20,000 accounts that had been compromised by attackers over just a sample five-day period. “Yet, Dunkin’ failed to investigate the attacks to identify other customer accounts that had been compromised, determine what customer information had been acquired, or whether customer funds had been stolen.

Dunkin agreed to pay $650,000 as penalty settlement costs for the lawsuit over its failure to respond to credential stuffing attacks.

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Tipsters – SEC Adds Clarity, Efficiency and Transparency to Its Whistleblower Award Program

On Wednesday, September 23. 2020, the SEC voted to adopt amendments to the rules governing its whistleblower program.
According to the SEC, the amendments are meant to “provide greater transparency, efficiency and clarity, and to strengthen and bolster the program.”

The amendments were proposed for public comment in June 2018 and have been adopted with some changes.

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FCPA – Mergers & Acquisition Due Diligence

When a company acquires another company, the successor company can be liable for the acquired company’s activities before acquisition. The U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) have administered Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) enforcement actions against successor companies in cases involving egregious and sustained violations, where the successor company directly participated in the violations, or where the successor company failed to stop the misconduct from continuing after the acquisition.

This writing explores some key steps that should be taken pre and post acquisition.

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DOJ Unravels a Decade-Old Scheme that involved Kickbacks, Money Laundering, Sham Shell Companies, and Fake Invoices

According to evidence presented at trial, Aleksandr Pikus, 45, of Brooklyn, New York, and his co-conspirators perpetrated a scheme through a series of medical clinics in Brooklyn and Queens over nearly a decade.   The clinics employed doctors, physical and occupational therapists, and other medical professionals who were enrolled in the Medicare and Medicaid programs.  In return for illegal kickbacks, Pikus referred beneficiaries to these health care providers, who submitted claims to the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

Pikus and his co-conspirators then laundered a substantial portion of the proceeds of these claims through companies he controlled, including by cashing checks at several New York City check-cashing businesses.  Pikus then failed to report that cash income to the IRS.  Instead, Pikus used the cash to enrich himself and others and to pay kickbacks to patient recruiters, who, in turn, paid beneficiaries to receive treatment at the medical clinics.  The evidence further established that Pikus and his co-conspirators used sham shell companies and fake invoices to conceal their illegal activities.

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Coming soon the New EU Whistleblower Protection Law

Soon all public and private organizations in the EU with more than fifty (50) employees will soon be required to comply with a new EU Whistleblower Protection law. The new law highlights the importance of responsive, transparent, and timely whistleblowing case management. So just implementing a hotline is not enough. Organizations must consider confidentiality, acknowledgment of the tip or compliant, response times, the competence of persons receiving the reports, communication with the whistleblower, and feedback on how the case is being processed. The new law also includes the right to report concerns externally while remaining legally protected. That’s a risk organizations must avoid. With the December 2021 deadline fast approaching, there is no better time for management and boards to act. 

Read more!

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Erasing the “Lines” to Enhance Risk Management

In July 2020, The Institute of Internal Auditors (“IIA”) updated its Three Lines of Defense Model (“Model”) to emphasize more active forms of risk management and governance that appear to go beyond merely defensive maneuvers made by the internal audit function.  

Some believed the old model sent a message that we should fear risk. I never saw it that way. I understood the subliminal message was the model was about achieving objectives, which requires both the creation and the protection of value. The new model does a much better job of confirming that risk management contributes “to achieving objectives and creating value, as well as to matters of “defense” and protecting value.”

Learn why the Enterprise Risk Resilient Model might be a better choice.

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Baker Tilly’s Global Forensic Investigations, Compliance & Integrity Practice Continues to Impress and Grow!

Our experience conducting fraud investigations, domestically and globally, allows us to advise our clients on measures they can take to prevent fraud from occurring and detect issues before they expand. Our clients look to us to design anti-fraud programs and controls, perform anti-bribery and anti-corruption compliance assessments, and perform proactive fraud examinations to identify possible red flags or indicators of fraudulent activity. Because of our collective skills and the depth and breadth of our experiences, we are also able to design and enhance compliance programs and serve as integrity monitors. 

Correcting deficiencies, addressing gaps in controls, and remediation of specific issues is important at the end of every investigation to prevent the same or similar frauds from recurring.

We address these important client needs at the end of our investigations and can assist with implementing remedial actions.

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Webinar – July 28, 2020 – Best Practices for Conducting Remote Internal Investigations

In this pandemic era, global companies have been challenged to maintain a reliable and effective internal investigation program. Companies have relied on remote investigation strategies to collect and review documents and conduct interviews. In conducting remote investigations, companies have to ensure that they follow investigation requirements, maintain the confidentiality of the process, and comply with applicable data privacy rules and security requirements.

In this webinar, Jessica Sanderson, Partner at The Volkov Law Group, and Jonathan T. Marks, Partner| Leader of the Global Forensic Investigation, COmpliance & Integrity Practice at Baker Tilly, will discuss best practices for conducting remote internal investigations. They will outline strategies for collecting and reviewing documents, analyzing financial data, and conducting interviews using remote technologies.

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The Continued Evolution of Best Practices for Compliance Programs

In 2019 and 2020, the federal government released significant information which directly impacted compliance professionals. We cover all three releases in this eBook, the 2020 Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs – Guidance Document, the 2019 Framework for OFAC Compliance Commitments, and the 2019 Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs in Criminal Antitrust Investigations.

These three documents provided not only the government’s refreshed thinking on what constitutes a best practices compliance program. I have combined all three onto a best practices document.

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SEC & DOJ Release Second Edition of the Resource Guide to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

The SEC and DOJ Resource Guide is intended to provide information for businesses and individuals regarding the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). The guide has been prepared by the staff of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and the Enforcement Division of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The key changes to the Second Edition reflect developments and issues that are well-known to experienced practitioners. Nevertheless, the updated Guide emphasizes the importance of effective (and “adequately resourced”) compliance programs, risk-based diligence efforts, and voluntary self-disclosures.   

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Fraud On The Rise is No Surprise!

Last week, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (” ACFE”) published the results of a survey taken by more than 1,800 anti-fraud professionals in late April and early May 2020, while we were deep into the Covid-19 crisis.  The findings, for the most part, are not surprising, but does reveal some disappointing information.  While I have not seen a raw copy of the survey, I was surprised the ACFE didn’t ask if the company’s fraud risk assessment was reviewed and modified accordingly.

In addition, the survey highlights trends in the overall level of fraud. Survey respondents provided information about their current observations and expected changes regarding ten (10) specific types of fraud.

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DOJ Revises its Guidance on the Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs

Without any fanfare, the U.S. Department of Justice Criminal Division has once again revised its Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs (“ECCP”).  The ECCP  remains  organized around three overarching questions that prosecutors ask when evaluating compliance programs, with some revisions, which are in bold text below:

Is the corporation’s compliance program well designed?
Is the program being applied earnestly and in good faith? In other words, is the program being implemented adequately resourced and empowered to function effectively?
Does the corporation’s compliance program work in practice?

While most of the document is identical to the 2019 Guidance, there are subtle and noticeable revisions.  The revisions appear to be designed to help provide additional clarity when answering the above three questions. 

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