While you may not have had to deal with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act ("FCPA") at your firm, now that you are in-house counsel, complying with the FCPA can be your day-today reality.
While the prohibitions of the FCPA regarding payment/gifts to foreign government officials, or government owned/funded entity, as well as the accounting and reporting provisions, may seem clear -- one thing does not -- how the FCPA applies in real life, daily transactions. That's where you -- oh great corporate counsel -- come in.
Here is a three-pronged approach to preparing for, and dealing with FCPA bribery compliance.
1. Have a Plan
As an attorney dealing with compliance issues precaution is the word of the day. The last thing you want to do is have a reactionary stance and just run around putting out fires all the time. If you have a plan in place for training employees to act within the bounds of the law, as well as a procedure in place for dealing with issues as they arise, there is less room for surprise -- and error.
2. Bridge the Gap
There is often a disconnect between the lawyers who understand the law, and the people actually engaging in the day-to-day business. To be truly effective, the employees on the ground need to know what to look for. What may be bribery to us, may be "doing business" in another country. Employees must be trained to be sensitive to red flags (i.e., "my cousin is a purchasing agent"), and attorneys must do their due diligence. You must also coordinate with the finance department to make sure all transactions are recorded properly.
3. Act Promptly & Independently
As soon as the legal department is alerted to possible violation of the FCPA, you should call outside counsel. To avoid any sense of impropriety, an independent investigation and audit by a third party is preferred to keeping things internal. And, if violations are found, it may be worthwhile to self-report. While you may receive short term pushback in the media and in the markets, it will be far worse for your company to have a scandal hit the news years later.
We recently learned about a handy,new book called "Anti-Bribery Leadership: Practical FCPA and U.K Bribery Act Compliance Concepts for the Corporate Board Member, C-Suite Executive and General Counsel" tailored to business executives that need a crash course in compliance.
A quick-read, the 60-page book is written in easy-to-understand language, and gives you the tools to understand how the FCPA applies to your company's business, according to Compliance Week. It may be all you need to kick-start a review of your company's FCPA compliance procedures.How do you prepare for FCPA compliance? Tweet us @FindLawLP.
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- FindLaw's Corporate Counsel Center (FindLaw)