Lunch With The FCPA Compliance & Ethics Blog – Phil Wedemeyer And The Audit Perspective In Compliance

by Thomas Fox
Contact

One of my weekend reading pleasures is the Saturday section in the Financial Times (FT) entitled “Lunch with the FT”. Each week, this column highlights a weekly interview with leading cultural and business figures. In addition to an excellent interview with fascinating people, the column discusses the food served and lists the prices of all items purchased. The column is so smartly done that even the Men In Blazers talk about it in their weekly podcasts on all things soccer.

Since imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, today I will inaugurate a “Lunch with FCPA Compliance and Ethics Blog” series of posts. While it will not be a weekly feature, nor will I detail the costs for lunch, I will commit to you the cost will be in line with that of a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) or UK Bribery Act compliance program business entertainment lunch. My inaugural guest is Phil Wedemeyer, who is a retired former partner of a Big Five accounting firm (when there was a Big 5); the former Director of the Office of Research and Analysis at the Public Company Oversight Accounting Board and currently sits on the Board of Directors of two corporations; one public, where Phil is the Chairman of the Audit Committee, and one private. As you might guess from someone with such a professional background, Phil tends to view things through the prism of an audit perspective.

This week Phil and I sat down for a couple of Houston’s finest cheeseburgers to catch up. Phil asked me what might be happening on the FCPA front and I told him that I thought the news about the National Security Agency (NSA) information collection programs was going to make the job of the compliance practitioner more difficult. Many of America’s allies are up in arms over not only the collection of information but the revelation that such collection of information can be used in monitoring FCPA compliance across the globe. I think this will mean that companies will face greater data privacy laws and have more difficulty not only getting information out of foreign countries and into the US for evaluation but even in collecting types of data and information.

Great Board Oversight Required?

Phil had another take on it, which I found equally interesting. He questioned whether this information about the US government could put an additional burden on not only the compliance practitioner but on a board of directors? When I asked him what he meant by this, he questioned if a company had reliable information that the US government was employing oversight techniques to search for evidence of bribery and corruption (or non-compliance with other laws or regulations) beyond more traditional law enforcement techniques (e.g., whistleblowers, self-disclosure and competitor reporting); should this cause that company to increase its oversight of compliance with the FCPA? In particular, more comprehensive government monitoring activity could increase the chances of discovery of the types of illegal activities at lower levels of the company that is one of the primary objectives of whistleblower procedures and that may not always be known to upper level management. Further, if so, would this change in risk put a director on notice that they need to perform additional oversight of the compliance function?

Transaction Analysis

Phil also inquired about any trends that I might have seen over the past six to 12 months on FCPA enforcement. I told him that one of the things I have seen is the introduction of transaction monitoring, beginning with the Morgan Stanley declination. I then discussed the Eli Lilly enforcement action and particularly the bribery scheme used in Poland where charitable contributions were made to a charity run by the head of a provincial health service. This led to sales spiking in that province rather dramatically. These cases, and some others, have led me to advocate that companies engage in transaction monitoring from the compliance perspective to identify any anomalies.

Phil’s observation here was once again based on his auditing background. He said that, in considering variations in operating results as a director, he asks two questions of management: What happened and how do you know? In answering these questions, it is clearly important that management understands the business cause of significant sales increases and that there could be other issues involved in the situation that may require consideration by the compliance practitioner. Phil thought analysis of variations needs to occur at the level at which the sales increase was material. As an example, he conjectured that, in the Lilly scenario, such a sales spike would likely not be material to the company’s consolidated financial statements or, for that matter, to the European business unit. However, such a sales increase would most probably be material for the country of Poland and certainly for the province in which the sales increase occurred.

Once the material level is determined, direct questions should be asked and answered at that level. Explanations of a sales increase as being the result of the appointment of a new head of business development or a more aggressive sales manager should not simply be taken at face value. Questions such as what techniques were used; what was the marketing spend; how much was spent on business entertainment or other specific categories; were charitable donations made to any non-core business charities and other questions might help to get at the true underlying reason for a sales spike. Further, a company should review its findings in subsequent periods for confirmation. So, for example, if a sales increase legitimately appears to be due to the efforts of a new person in the territory or region, is that same increase sustained in later periods. The answer to such a question might identify red flags indicating the need for further review.

One of the key things that I learned from my lunch is the need for the compliance practitioner to talk to other non-compliance professionals to get their perspectives on how they view issues. So, just as I had lunch with Phil Wedemeyer, you could take out the head of your internal audit group for a lunch and chat; or HR; or IT. The list of possibilities is lengthy. I hope that you have enjoyed my inaugural, Lunch with the FCPA Compliance and Ethics Blog as much as I have bringing it to you.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Thomas Fox, Compliance Evangelist | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Thomas Fox
Contact
more
less

Compliance Evangelist on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):
hide

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.

Security

JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.
Feedback? Tell us what you think of the new jdsupra.com!