In a global world, where countries are increasingly integrated through trade, financial flows and technological advances, it is necessary that we not only focus on the local reality and look at what is happening outside our borders, because Without knowing it, certain actions or laws that are dictated in a certain place, can influence us, or give us the guidelines to follow if necessary. And the recent announcement by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding compliance is a good example, to which we must pay attention.

In September, the DOJ released immediate steps to address corporate crime. Although these apply to that country, they should also be considered by the rest of the world, given the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), which can condemn people and companies regardless of where they are located.

The measures focus on strengthening compliance programs to discourage misconduct, apply incentive systems to avoid bad practices, and give credits to those who voluntarily report irregularities and cooperate with investigations. For this, the company must demonstrate that it is doing everything possible to prevent corruption and/or remedy the bad practices committed. Therefore, you must have robust and real compliance programs.

In this way, for the DOJ the focus will be on pursuing individual responsibility, that is, on those who commit business crimes and benefit from them, regardless of their position, position or seniority. This precisely points to compliance programs being put into practice, and not remaining on paper, just to comply with the law. If we go to a specific example in Chile, Corpesca would not have been convicted as a legal entity if it had demonstrated the effectiveness of its compliance program, and we would only have seen those directly responsible for the crimes being convicted.

In order to have a truly implemented compliance program, first, it must be understood that all departments of the company must contribute to it, because the risks are not in the area of ​​compliance, but in those dealing with customers, suppliers, officials public or handle finances. For this reason, it is essential that it be detected immediately if a policy or procedure has ceased to be complied with, either because it became obsolete, the person in charge of the process changed, or circumstances changed.

A good example was given by the pandemic, which came to break paradigms and dislodge what was established, making us overcome various difficulties, even to this day. In this period, there has been no company that has not changed or that has not had to adapt and, it is in this context, where continuous supervision becomes more relevant.

Thus, in 2020, as soon as teleworking and virtuality began, many companies quickly accommodated themselves to continue operating, ceasing to comply with pre-established processes that were face-to-face, such as petty cash authorizations, but that it was necessary to do given the complexity of the moment.

It is not bad to change, the important thing is to define the new process immediately, so that gaps are not generated that could affect the company in the future, and that they become known years later. In that case, we are not going to have a way to explain that it was because of the pandemic or because the process had just changed.

For this reason, given the possibility of skipping controls, whether due to emergencies or exceptions, it is essential to have visibility of HOW the processes are being carried out, and if we realize that we are no longer complying with them -because they no longer conform to the new reality – then it must be changed and made clear. Failure to comply with a process does not mean that a crime is being committed.

We must be aware that temptations are the order of the day, and that in a moment of crisis it is easier to fall into them, causing the barriers of what is permitted to be lowered, processes to be disordered and policies and controls to be overlooked.

A well-implemented compliance will not only be insurance for the company in the event of a crime, but will also support it in the event of an emergency or an abnormal situation. So, if there is no order, if the exception becomes the rule, if there is no compliance program that monitors the practices that are carried out, that ensures that the established controls are respected or that they are skipped for any reason and for a certain time, you can fall into crimes.

That is why the announcement of the DOJ in the strengthening of compliance is an opportunity for companies around the world that have the true purpose of preventing crimes and demonstrating that this commitment is real and not a mere procedure to be fulfilled, because paper lasts a long time. , but reality always prevails. And let’s not forget that in a global world, sanctions are also global.

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J. A. Allen

Author, blogger, freelance writer. Hater of spiders. Drinker of wine. Mother of hellions.

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