[author: Jeffrey R. Brown]
Each day, more enterprises expand into the international market. A combination of new opportunities from emerging economies as well as re-established economies is too hard to ignore. However, these exciting opportunities need to be tempered by a sound understanding of domestic law, foreign law, and international law. Enterprises desiring to expand internationally must determine who (or what) they can trust to abide by sound corporate practices, especially in light of the worldwide economic crisis from which we are slowly recovering. Luckily there is an international body that is dedicated to helping countries, enterprises, and consumers become familiar with international corporate compliance standards and resolve these questions of trust.
Since 1961, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (“OECD”) has been leading the attack against rampant corruption and bribery in the international arena. The OECD has passed many Acts to help governments and enterprises strengthen their laws against corruption in international business, as well as identify and eliminate recurring instances of bribery and corruption. Such Acts include the OECD’s Anti-Bribery Convention, Principles of Corporate Governance, and Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. On March 3, 2011, the OECD launched the CleanGovBiz initiative. CleanGovBiz provides a central location where governments, enterprises, and individuals can find the OECD resources they need to successfully fight corruption and restore trust in governments that was lost due to the worldwide economic crisis.
CleanGovBiz divides the work of the OECD into four main sections: healthy systems, effective prevention, sharp detection, and robust prosecution and recovery. Not all sections will apply equally to governments and enterprises, but both should have a full understanding of the OECD guidelines and of the recommendations provided in each section. By having a full understanding, enterprises can be confident that their internal compliance programs satisfy the strictest of international standards, and governments can adequately detect and prosecute corruption, thereby restoring the public’s trust. The following guidelines are particularly applicable to enterprises seeking to expand internationally:
Clear Policies Prohibiting Foreign Bribery. Enterprises that are getting ready to expand internationally need to make sure that their policies prohibiting foreign bribery are clear, concise, and communicated to every employee of the enterprise. Oftentimes, it is the act of a low-level manager or employee that will cause the entire enterprise to run afoul of a government’s anti-bribery laws.
Whistleblower Protection. Enterprises need to provide anonymity and job protection to employees who report violations or attempted violations of an enterprise’s foreign bribery policies. Employees should not feel pressured to hide their knowledge of policy violations. In order to restore trust and keep a business thriving, the enterprise’s leadership should understand that a short-term loss of business due to enforcement of foreign bribery policies can, and often does, result in long-term gain and prosperity for the enterprise.
Constant Monitoring and Review. All enterprises should establish independent monitoring bodies designed to implement, review, and enforce their foreign bribery prevention policies. Senior management and directors need to fully support the work of these independent bodies in a way that is clearly visible to all employees. The independent monitoring bodies should focus their attention not only on reported violations of an enterprise’s policies, but also on attempted violations. By doing so, the bodies will be able to remedy a policy’s weaknesses before a violation has even occurred, thus saving the enterprise’s valuable money and time.
If multinational enterprises (as well as those getting ready to expand internationally) use the Acts and guidelines provided by the OECD to shape their foreign bribery prevention policies, significant progress would be made in finally stemming the rise of corrupt practices worldwide. A thorough understanding of the OECD’s Acts and other publications will have a positive effect on both the longevity of a multinational enterprise and that enterprise’s impact in the international marketplace.
The attorneys of Diaz, Reus & Targ, LLP have an in-depth knowledge of sound business practices and compliance programs that meet the standards set by the international business community through the OECD and other institutions. We can help you create, review, and otherwise enforce these guidelines in your enterprise. Diaz, Reus & Targ, LLP is a lean and agile Miami-based law firm with an on-the-ground presence in many Latin American countries, as well as in Dubai, Shanghai, Frankfurt and elsewhere around the world. No matter what your compliance needs are or where you want to expand, Diaz, Reus & Targ, LLP is ready to personally help you and your enterprise achieve success as you expand globally.