Tag: Risk

Risk management, controls

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. 

The Next Level of Investigations

Many investigations are currently being performed remotely, in concert with the general counsel, the chief compliance officer, the chief audit executive, and depending on the how the allegation was triaged, with outside counsel, a forensic accounting firm, and the board.  Even government prosecutors are interviewing witnesses remotely.

The primary goal of the interview is to elicit information in a non-coercive manner. My personal preference is always to conduct interviews face to face because I can control the subject and the environment, and evaluate the nonverbal behavior of the interviewee.  But, if performing a face-to-face interview is not possible, I suggest using video over the telephone.

This writing provides some suggestions for techniques to consider when conducting internal investigations remotely.

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COSO Releases Thought Leadership on Risk Appetite

Organizations encounter risk every day as they pursue their objectives. In conducting appropriate oversight, management and the board must deal with a fundamental question: How much risk is acceptable in pursuing these objectives? Added to this, regulators and other oversight bodies are calling for better descriptions of organizations’ risk management processes, including oversight by the board.

COSO has released a thought leadership piece to help understand and communicate risk appetite, an amorphous concept to many.

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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.

Tone from the top: Leadership’s challenge during a crisis

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.

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Whistleblowers: Tipsters not trusting the system? Here’s how to win them back

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.

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Whistleblowers: A Fraud Triage System

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.

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The Use of Red Flags to Detect Misconduct or Fraud

A Red Flag is an unusual circumstance or a pattern of anomalies that should alert a reasonable person of possible misconduct. In each such instance, further inquiry and due diligence might be necessary to determine if the anomalies are explainable or require an investigation.

Below are some Red Flags to consider.

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Fraud, Compliance & Integrity Risk During a Crisis and a Downturn

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.

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Five Men Indicated for Worldwide Cryptocurrency Fraud Scheme

On December 10, 2019, three men were arrested in connection with an alleged $722 million cryptocurrency mining fraud scheme.  An additional defendant was arrested following the Department of Justice’s press release, and another remains at large.

From April 2014 through December 2019, Defendants solicited investments in its BitClub Network, a purported bitcoin mining pool that was operated by Defendants.  They are charged with exploiting unsophisticated investors with “false promises of large returns for investing in the mining of Bitcoin.”  The “complex world of cryptocurrency” allowed Defendants to take advantage of investors, which Defendant Matthew Brent Goettsche referred to as “dumb” investors, “sheep,” and “morons.”  Defendants manipulated the daily mining earnings amounts reported to investors in order to attract new investors and to encourage reinvestment of earnings, amassing at least $722 million in ill-gotten gains.

Read more to better understand how others exploit this perplexing concept, what the SEC has to say about the matter, and what the consequences are.

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Bribery Schemes and Their Compliance Responses

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.

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DOJ Updates FCPA Corporate Enforcement Policy

On November 20th, 2019, The Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced updates to its Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) Corporate Enforcement Policy. While the changes were relatively minor, the modifications underscored important principles surrounding the FCPA Corporate Enforcement Policy.  

This latest update follows extensive revisions made in March of this year and the announcement that the FCPA Policy will apply as non-binding guidance for all criminal cases; all reflect DOJ’s continued efforts to promote self-disclosures and provide clarity on DOJ’s approach for companies deciding whether to self-disclose. There is little doubt the DOJ has landed on a Corporate Enforcement Policy that took years to develop. The FCPA Corporate Enforcement Policy now applies to all corporate criminal prosecutions except Antirust Division criminal prosecutions that are guided by the Leniency Program. The DOJ is consistently applying the principles and appears to be very comfortable with the results.

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Speaking and Training on Fraud, Compliance, Ethics, and 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.

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Fraud: Department of Justice (DOJ) Announces Procurement Collusion Strike Force

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.

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Compliance Thought Leaders You Should Be Following by Matt Kelly

Compiling a list of thought leaders in ethics and compliance is fun, but so challenging. There are simply too many thoughtful people in this field — which is itself enormous and wide-ranging — to call out everyone worth following. So below is a small slice of the thinkers in corporate ethics and compliance that I try to follow.
How should we define a thought leader, exactly? I define it literally. First, someone who thinks about corporate compliance issues, and puts those thoughts into words. Some bloggers and tweeters, for example, do a superb job passing along what happened, but not why or how it happened. 

Second, thought leaders lead. They raise questions about what should or could happen in ethics and compliance, even if practical obstacles today make achieving those goals difficult right now. Thought leaders provide context around the events of today to suggest what might be possible tomorrow.

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Skepticism – A Key Tool in the Fight Against Fraud

“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.

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