One of the FCPA themes for 2020 has been hiding in plain sight all along. The FCPA requirement that “reporting companies to devise and maintain a system of internal accounting controls sufficient to provide reasonable assurances that, among other things, transactions are executed following management’s general or specific authorizations, and access to assets is permitted only in accordance with management’s general or specific authorization.” But what if the violation of this requirement occurs in a non-foreign (IE., the U.S.) and in a non-bribery situation.» Read More
We are introducing our first annual virtual Baker Tilly Fraud and Compliance Summit, hosted by Jonathan T. Marks, who leads Baker Tilly’s Global Forensic, Compliance, and Integrity Services Practice.» Read More
On December 11, 2020, the Senate passed the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 (“AMLA” or the “Act”) – DIVISION F of the National Defense Authorization Act for the fiscal year 2021 (the “NDAA”). The House of Representatives had previously passed the measure on December 8, 2020.» Read More
Happy New Year, and thank you to the more than 100,000 people that visited Board and Fraud in 2020!
With everything that happened last year, fraud, compliance, and risk management have arguably become more important than ever.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) charged the former Corporate Controller of CEB Inc. and his brother-in-law with insider trading in advance of a public announcement about CEB’s acquisition
The Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) today charged New York-based brand-management company Sequential Brands Group, Inc. (“Sequential or “SQBG”) with failing to impair its goodwill as required by accounting
Adapted from Robin Burton’s Article in the Anti-Corruption Report, November 11, 2020
Since the passing of Sarbanes-Oxley in 2002, I have noticed that Boards of Directors have become more
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.”» Read More
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.» Read More
The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) will be issuing its Guidance similar to the DOJ’s recent writing on Evaluating Corporate Compliance Programs, which sends a clear message
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.» Read More
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.» Read More
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.» Read More
Leaders must find ways to engage with their people to motivate them, and this becomes increasingly important during uncertain or trying times. If done correctly, talking can be incredibly powerful. It can help relieve anxiety and help people find the strength they didn’t know was in them. Studies have shown that talking shuts down the brain’s fear center.
As Dr. Judson A. Brewer stated in a recent New York Times article, “Anxiety is a strange beast. As a psychiatrist, I have learned that anxiety and its close cousin, panic, are both born from fear.”
Fear and anxiety can be debilitating. Without proper communication in a crisis, it’s easy for people to spin and spread stories of fear, creating social contagion. To balance this tendency, in a crisis, leaders need to take their “tone from the top” to the next level.» Read More
Whistleblowers: Tipsters not trusting the system? Here’s how to win them back.
Anonymous hotlines and tip-reporting structures are useless, of course, if informants don’t trust them. Employees won’t blow the whistle if they fear reprisals. So, their concerns often don’t enter case-management systems and frauds continue. Here’s how to earn back their trust, take them seriously and transform raw tips into valuable fraud examinations.
Ovem lupo commitere!» Read More
As the use of whistleblower programs continues to grow, many organizations find themselves struggling to manage burgeoning caseloads. As a result, serious fraud investigations can be delayed (with mounting losses) while less consequential complaints are being investigated. The lack of a timely, systematic and repeatable process for evaluating and prioritizing whistleblower tips that contain allegations of ethical breaches can also expose an organization to increased regulatory risk.
While there is no single, “right” method for following up on whistleblower complaints, the most effective approaches often resemble the medical triage programs that hospitals and first responders use to allocate limited resources during emergencies, or a crisis situation.
Here are some useful guidelines for designing and implementing a fraud triage system.» Read More
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.» Read More
The risk of fraud is a serious concern for all types of enterprises, but fraud can be particularly damaging to a nonprofit or not-for-profit organization, for which a damaged reputation can have devastating consequences.» Read More
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.” In addition, in criminal actions against a business organization, including the FCPA, the DOJ’s Justice Manual instructs prosecutors to ask and answer several questions, including: 1) Do the Directors exercise independent review of the company’s compliance program? and 2) Are Directors provided timely and accurate information sufficient to enable the exercise of independent judgment?» Read More
Where is compliance headed in the 2020’s? Certainly, technological solutions will be a big part of the future of compliance programs and controls. Compliance is rapidly emerging and being viewed as a critical business process. Moving away from the days in which it was driven by legalese and where lawyers are responsible for crafting compliance policies and procedures. These advances provide opportunity for innovation, and enable compliance to recede from being viewed as a cost center led by the “head of business denial”, to being viewed as value added function to the business. Simply put, a more effective compliance program contributes to more efficient business processes, which leads to greater profitability.» Read More
Crisis Management: Some of the biggest mistakes made when handling a crisis are not dealing with the problem head-on, thoughtless or insincere comments, lack of communication with stakeholders, unprepared spokespeople, getting defensive after receiving backlash, or, sitting back and letting the problem grow. Domino’s, Sony, Samsung, BP, United Airlines, Equifax, KFC, are all good examples of companies who stumbled with crisis management. Companies should study these crises and learn from the mistakes!
In addition, fraud, compliance, and integrity risks may change. A crisis situation can and often does increase the pressure on senior management and of course salespeople to meet their sales targets! Deviant behavior is easily justified.» Read More
This writing will highlight some of the more unusual bribery schemes described in 2019 Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) enforcement actions and also consider their impact on compliance programs, what they mean for the compliance professional and how the government could potentially use these cases to require more effective compliance programs going forward.
Fraudsters are always looking for loopholes and weak spots to exploit. The same is true for those engaged in bribery and corruption. The role of every compliance professional is to prevent, detect and remediate. By following some of the approaches I have outlined, you can move towards more robust detection.
The United States government’s fiscal year ended on September 30, 2019. Just as in the business world, where many companies try and clear out any unexecuted deals or open contracts, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) cleared out three outstanding Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) enforcement actions. The three enforcement actions involved Quad/Graphics Inc., a Wisconsin-based digital and print marketing provider, and its Peruvian subsidiary, Quad/Graphics Peru S.A.; Barclays PLC; and a Canadian clean fuel company Westport Fuels Systems, Inc. and its former Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Nancy Gougarty of Leesville, South Carolina. The terms of each settlement agreement provide a different lesson for compliance practitioners.» Read More
Welcome to my site. I have spoken and been the keynote speaker for many conferences, including the ABA, ACC, ACFE, IIA, and IMA to name a few. I have designed customized training for the board, senior leadership, legal, compliance, internal audit, and others for some of the world’s largest organizations.» Read More