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
In 2020, the DOJ and SEC brought FCPA enforcement actions against 12 companies and imposed financial penalties totaling a record $6.4 billion. For a comparison, in 2019, 14 companies paid a (then) record $2.9 billion to resolve FCPA cases.
Are you exposed?» Read More
In summary, The Amendments double the SEC’s statute of limitations for disgorgement to 10 years in intentional fraud cases, grant the SEC 10 years to seek equitable relief in all cases, codify the SEC’s ability to obtain disgorgement in federal court proceedings, and make other changes that expand the SEC’s enforcement authority.» 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
The Securities and Exchange Commission (”SEC”) announced an award of more than $300,000 to a whistleblower whose high-quality information and continuing assistance significantly contributed to a successful enforcement
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
The Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) entered an “Order” on September 23, 2020, against JonesTrading Institutional Services LLC (“firm”), a broker-dealer located in California, for failing to retain text messages relating to the firm’s business. The SEC fined JonesTrading $100,000. Read more!» 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.”» 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 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.» Read More
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.» Read More
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.» Read More
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.» Read More
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.» Read More
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.» Read More
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
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
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
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.» 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.
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.» 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
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.» Read More