With anti-corruption enforcement intensifying around the world, companies (particularly those operating in regions where corrupt practices are widespread) are implementing and reviewing anti-corruption programs to ensure compliance with various anti-corruption laws (for example the FCPA (US), CFPOA (Canada) and the UK Bribery Act 2010 (UK)). Whether large or small, public or private, every company can benefit from implementing an anti-corruption compliance program. This is particularly true for companies that operate internationally or engage third parties to act as agents or representatives in foreign jurisdictions. While no anti-corruption program will guarantee compliance by every employee, agent or representative, a compliance program can be a critical tool for exposing corrupt practices and protecting your company and/or its directors from criminal and civil liability.
Beyond the altruistic reasons for eliminating corrupt practices and the fundamental expectation of compliance with the law, there are direct and practical benefits to implementing an anti-corruption program. For example, as more investors and companies realize the importance of compliance and anti-corruption programs, compliance issues or the lack of a compliance program can greatly impact a company’s value and attractiveness to potential partners or purchasers. In addition, corrupt practices waste company resources and increasingly investors are seeking civil recourse against the company and the company’s board. Criminal prosecutions can also have a devastating impact on the reputations of the company and its directors and officers, and can impact the ability of the company and/or individual to conduct business at home and abroad.
An anti-corruption compliance program may be complex or straightforward depending on a company’s circumstances and the level of risk that a company deems necessary or acceptable. Global anti-corruption enforcement will continue to intensify and companies that do not have a current anti-corruption program should take the steps necessary to implement one.