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
Risk assessments are part of the discipline of risk management, where enhanced frameworks and techniques have emerged. Risk management comprises the identification, assessment, and prioritization of risks followed by the coordinated and efficient use of resources to monitor, minimize, and otherwise control the organization’s risks.
Risks arise in many forms and range from uncertainty in financial markets, operational failures, natural disasters, and pandemics to legal liabilities and reputational harms.
On January 12, 2021, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California announced the first civil settlement with a borrower for allegedly committing fraud in obtaining a Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) loan, in violation of the False Claims Act (“FCA”) and the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act (“FIRREA”).
The FCA allows the government to recover damages and penalties for presenting false claims for payment to the United States. FIRREA allows the government to impose civil penalties for violations of enumerated federal criminal statutes, including those that affect federally-insured financial» 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
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.
Money laundering issues have haunted many over the years. To promote greater transparency, the U.S. Senate has approved legislation requiring companies in the U.S. to register their true owners. This change would help combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism.» 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
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.» 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
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
As a crisis unfolds, like Coronavirus, and markets decline globally, fraudsters will be adapting and new risks will emerge and some risks will increase.
Remember, white collar criminals adapt by profiling us, so they can exploit our weaknesses. That being said, companies need to develop a strategy that enables the deployment of appropriate tactics to manage these new or increasing risks.
This writing explores some fraud, compliance, and integrity risks and is intended to provoke discussion.» Read More
On March 12, 2020, the Securities & Exchange Commission adopted a controversial rule that exempts more categories of public companies from auditor attestation of management’s internal control over financial reporting required by Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, despite strong opposition by investor protection advocates.
The rules are intended to benefit low revenue companies even if the funds raised in the public stock markets are not small, according to, Release No. 34-88365, Amendments to the Accelerated and Large Accelerated Filer Definitions. The amendments become effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, which normally occurs a few weeks after a rule is posted on the SEC’s website.» Read More
This one-day fraud symposium, sponsored by Baker Tilly’s Global Forensic, Compliance and Integrity Services, and Solutions Practice Group and hosted by the Institute of Internal Auditors, Philadelphia Chapter, will include topics such as:
•Current trends in white-collar crime
•Tone is the middle
•Case study on a local fraud
Discover who will be speaking and register for the event!» 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
On November 5th, the Department of Justice announced the formation of the new Procurement Collusion Strike Force (PCSF) “focusing on deterring, detecting, investigating and prosecuting antitrust crimes, such as bid-rigging conspiracies and related fraudulent schemes, which undermine competition in government procurement, grant and program funding”.
The Strike Force is an inter-agency partnership comprised of prosecutors from the Antitrust Division, and prosecutors from thirteen (13) U.S. Attorneys’ Offices. Aiding in the prosecutors’ efforts are investigation partners such as the Offices of Inspector Generals from the Department of Justice, Department of Defense, U.S. Postal Service, and General Services Administration Office. The Department of Justice’s announcement proclaimed that investigating and prosecuting those who “cheat, collude and seek to undermine the integrity of government procurement” will have more to concern themselves with when executing their crimes. Prosecutors and investigators alike expressed enthusiasm to be working as a part of this new team.» Read More
How can we protect our brand? What are we doing to protect our brand? Questions all board members should be constantly asking. Reputational risks can damage the most well-crafted business strategies and is a growing challenge that companies around the world are still learning how to manage.
By definition, reputational risk refers to the potential for negative publicity, public perception, or uncontrollable events to adversely impact a company’s reputation, thereby affecting its revenue.
Board directors covet their company’s reputation because it’s their most valuable asset. A study by Deloitte and Forbes affirmed this conviction, but should not surprise anyone. Senior-level executives also agreed that their company’s reputation presented the greatest risk to the company’s ability to achieve business strategies.» Read More
Background The Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) announced that Westport Fuels Systems, Inc. (Westport”), a Canadian clean fuel technology company headquartered in Vancouver, Canada, and its former chief executive officer,
“Trust but verify” could be a downright dangerous approach when applied to audit procedures in particular. A much better slogan for fraud deterrence would be, “Trust is a professional hazard.”
The implication is that because financial management plays a leading role in detecting financial fraud, it is incumbent on executives – not just auditors – to exercise appropriate levels of professional skepticism. Board members and particularly audit committee members also must take care to exercise a skeptical approach to financial reports and supporting information.» Read More