Lexology Pro Compliance takes a look at some of the most informative articles published on Lexology this fortnight for compliance teams to stay up-to-date, including key guidance from regulators around the world and practical tips to help businesses adapt to a new normal.

The COVID-19 pandemic is not showing signs of easing, with Hong Kong, Israel and South Korea experiencing second outbreaks and infections yet to peak elsewhere. As parts of the world emerge from lockdowns, while others return to them, businesses face the dual challenge of adapting to the current realities and planning for long term survival.  Here are some of the key updates for compliance teams around the world, along with some checklists, guides and practical tips on how to manage them.

Anti-corruption

Opportunistic criminals have used the pandemic to increase their efforts to defraud companies. In the US alone, COVID-19 scams have cost over US$59.27 million since the beginning of the year, according to the Federal Trade Commission, which identifies imposter scams as one of the most common attacks. This article explores the key scams financial institutions should guard against, in light of guidance from the US Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.

Now that the pandemic is in an advanced stage, trends are beginning to form in anti-corruption enforcement, which compliance leaders will find informative for future planning. The key anti-corruption trends, regulatory guidance and prosecutions in the US are summarised in this overview of significant events in the first half of 2020. Similarly, this FCPA-specific round-up warns companies that the current dearth of FCPA enforcement activity could lead to a build-up of prepared indictments and charges later in 2020, so business should prepare themselves for potential future investigation.

COVID-19 has dramatically impacted the financial circumstances of many companies, so prospective buyers are very concerned with gaining a clear picture of the financial conduct of the business they are seeking to acquire or merge with. Conducting effective due diligence is crucial to managing compliance and anti-corruption risk before finalising a merger or acquisition. Companies should check for material breach of contracts and health and safety policies in due diligence of potential targets.

Data protection

Samantha Gilbert, senior legal compliance writer for Lexology PRO Compliance, interviewed Google’s director of international legal privacy, William Malcolm, who worked on the development of Google and Apple’s contact-tracing application programming interface (API). He shared some key data privacy lessons around contract tracing.

As companies begin the process of returning to the workplace in the UK, questions have arisen over how to lawfully monitor employees’ health without facing data protection concerns. There are a series of data privacy considerations for employers when conducting a range of COVID-19 health tests, such as temperature, antigen and antibody tests. This article outlines how employers around the world can process personal data to monitor the health of employees and ensure they are compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and other laws. UK companies will find this article helpful on complying with data protection while following government advice to keep records to help with NHS Test and Trace. Companies should follow these steps to ensure best practice when storing and processing data in the workforce to tackle COVID-19 and when monitoring worker performance.

COVID-19's widespread disruption has propelled companies to embrace digital technology and automation such as the “internet of things”, but there are key legal issues to consider when embarking on such a project.  Another article outlines important elements of cybersecurity strategies when implementing cloud services and APIs.

There is also new advice for EU companies on how to align existing data protection practices with the GDPR, and, for US entities, on how to bring operations into compliance with the California Consumer Privacy Act to avoid stiff penalties now that the enforcement deadline has passed.

Compliance management

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues are returning to the minds of compliance leaders, now that business are adapting to the new “normal.” This article explains how strong ESG performance demonstrates “holistic strength” to investors and can lead to cost-efficiency when budgets are tight. Businesses seeking to team up with, or support, a charity, should consider how to structure the relationship and promote their support without attracting regulator scrutiny.

Throughout the pandemic, compliance leaders have faced a myriad of unprecedented and unpredictable risks. This article offers ways to anticipate and address future workplace issues, from audits to second waves of COVID-19, which could arise as employees return to the workplace.

Enforcement agencies are starting to scrutinise how well companies are managing the return to the workplace, so compliance professionals should keep abreast of enforcement trends and investigations. US employers’ risk exposure to state and federal investigations and enforcement actions related to COVID-19 workplace health and safety concerns are explored here, along with advice on monitoring the changing regulatory landscape. Follow these key steps in responding to a COVID-19-driven Occupational Safety and Health Administration complaint, to reduce a company’s liability for a resulting infection or, at worst, fatality.

Competition and antitrust

Regulators are paying close attention to price gouging, with enforcement actions and investigations on the rise across the US into companies suspected of illegally profiting from the rise in demand of products like sanitiser and masks. As there is no comprehensive federal legislation on price gouging in the US, the majority of price gouging enforcement has occurred at the state level.

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