Contending with Cultures of Corruption

Just one look at the Corruption Perceptions Index map and you can see that we operate in a world fraught with abuse of power, backroom dealings, kickbacks, and bribery—all of which can put your international organization at risk.
The popular index evaluates 177 countries, rating them on a scale of 0 (highly corrupt, depicted by the red shades) to 100 (very clean, shown in the yellow shades), resulting in quite a compelling data visualization. It is especially disconcerting that two-thirds of countries scored below 50, meaning that corruption is indeed a very serious issue. You can also divide the map into two basic groups: 1) the Western cultures, and 2) the rest of the world. And if you do business in the rest of the world, you’ve got your FCPA work cut out for you.
All this becomes particularly relevant when you consider the strong correlation between growth markets and the geographic distribution of corruption. The two do tend to be aligned! Granted, it may be difficult to do business in some parts of the world without engaging in the “norms of the culture,” but with the sharpening teeth of the FCPA, the “When in Rome” ethic no longer flies. The fact is the FCPA is now woven into the very fabric of international business: compliance is simply not optional. Moreover, the DOJ and SEC have only stepped up their efforts to investigate and prosecute FCPA violations—and they especially enjoy doing that in a very high profile way at both the enterprise and individual levels.
So where does one begin? Besides being heads-up about the very real corruption risks posed by particular countries, a plan will be in order. And the foundation of that plan is the education of your people working in such locations. But because of the cultural peculiarities of each country, a generic compliance training program will not do. To be effective, the training must be tailored specifically to address each region, country, industry, and type of employee. Relevance is paramount if learners are to engage with and ultimately internalize the training content. Additionally, the training should address the particular classes of corruption prevalent in a given geography. In China, for example, that means addressing the flavors of corruption that come with state-owned entities.
Beyond your employees, though, are the third parties with whom you deal (agents, distributors, etc.), who also need to be trained. The fact is third parties represent your greatest FCPA behavioral risk. What’s more, you can’t hide behind these third-party intermediaries; they simply will not shield you from liability. Rather, they create liability. In fact, many analysts have reported that 90% of FCPA cases involve corrupt conduct by third parties.
It turns out that the DOJ applies the FCPA’s third‑party payment provisions rather liberally, to include those cases where a company or individual employee has knowledge of the prohibited conduct (even though it might be considered standard practice in , or is “willfully blind” to such behaviors and practices). Consequently, the DOJ may well hold a company or an individual employee responsible for the corrupt actions of its third‑party representatives—and especially when it, he, or she fails to take meaningful action.
FCPA compliance training, then, is essential in transmuting an appreciation of the legal requirements into the behavioral habits that will minimize the likelihood that prohibited conduct will occur. And should the tell-tale signs of corruption raise their ugly heads, your people will know exactly what action they ought to take—and take it—keeping the organization, and themselves, safe and secure.
Ready to start? Let us show you how easy and effective world-class FCPA compliance training can be.

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